An American high school has backtracked after it banned a student from quoting a Bible verse at a graduation ceremony.
Genesis Feliciano wanted to quote Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
However, Minnesota Connections Academy had said it “can’t allow” Bible verses to be used in graduation speeches.
After religious liberty organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) got involved, the school relented.
ADF wrote to the high school, saying it believed the school’s actions violated the US constitution.
The group also said that a court decision had previously backed students’ free speech rights at graduation ceremonies.
Following the change of stance, ADF lawyer Jonathan Scruggs, commented: “We commend the school for doing the right thing and giving this student the same opportunity to express herself that other students are being given.”
Senior Legal Counsel for ADF, Jeremy Tedesco, added: “The Constitution simply does not require schools to purge public ceremonies of all things that happen to be religious”.
Tedesco also said: “We hope other high schools will follow the lead of Minnesota Connections Academy, which did the right thing here by choosing to respect the constitutional freedoms of all students.”
In April, ADF said that a schoolboy in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, was banned from giving out Valentine’s Day cards after he included the Bible verse John 3:16.
The boy and his parents prepared cards with the famous Bible verse, but the school’s headteacher claimed the note sought to establish religious “supremacy”.
Matt Sharp, a lawyer for ADF, said at the time: “Public schools ought to encourage, not suppress, the free exchange of ideas, including those communicated through Valentine’s Day cards.”
The Pennsylvania school was allegedly so hostile to religion that the boy was scared to pray at mealtimes, Fox News reported.