This graduation season, public school officials across the country found themselves in a Catch-22: threatened with lawsuits if they allowed prayer at high-school graduations and threatened with lawsuits if they did not. “There’s been quite a lot of controversy, and maybe even more than controversy, confusion,” admits Ivan Gluckman, general counsel for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. His Washington-area association was flooded with phone calls from school officials asking for help.

At issue is last year’s Supreme Court decision in Lee v. Weisman—and two radically different views on how to interpret it. On one side are the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other church/state separationists who believe the high court clearly struck down all prayers at graduation ceremonies. On the other side are Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and other religious groups that believe the Court left the door open for student-initiated prayers. Caught in the middle are school districts, trying to accommodate local desires, while at the same time staying out of court. It has not been easy:

• At Blue Ridge High School in Farmer City, Illinois, 65 of 66 seniors voted to have graduation prayer, but the principal said no. Class treasurer Chad Vance and other students contacted the ACLJ for help. “I feel if we don’t stand up for our rights, our rights will be eaten away,” Vance says. At the May 23 ceremony, class president Sheldon Bane quoted the Bible, but did not pray.

• Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.) says he was “uninvited” to be the commencement speaker at Kankakee Valley High School’s graduation. He refused to provide a written guarantee that he would not pray.

• In Loudoun County, Virginia, Superintendent ...

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