The Germantown School District is under fire after it ordered a local church to remove an opening prayer at its middle school graduation ceremony.
The controversy started after Houston Middle School announced Harvest Church would host its graduation ceremony with an opening invocation.The venue was reportedly chosen due to its capacity to hold a large audience, a source familiar with Harvest told KWAM.
A teacher immediately pushed back, according to multiple sources. A few parents piled on and threatened to sue the school district, citing the prayer violated the separation of church and state.
The school district asked Harvest Church to swap out a prayer with a moment of silence.
The church declined.Ultimately, the district caved to backlash, moving the ceremony to a smaller venue.
Nationally syndicated radio host Todd Starnes praised church officials for not backing down.
“I’m proud of Harvest Church for standing their ground. Never in a million years would I have imagined school officials in Germantown telling a church congregation not to pray in their own sanctuary. I doubt the godless leftists who run New York City schools would be that brazen,” Starnes said.The school district told KWAM the following statement:
Germantown Municipal School District regularly hosts events at local churches. Examples include Houston High School Graduation at Bellevue Baptist Church, Dogwood Fifth Grade Promotion at Hope Church Memphis, and Riverdale’s 8th Grade Promotion at Grace Evangelical Church. Houston Middle School has historically hosted their promotion ceremonies at local churches. School districts can use church venues for events.However, school districts, by federal law, cannot have a corporate prayer as a part of a ceremony. Your report is partially inaccurate, in that no staffer has expressed concerns over a church venue to our administration.It is true that a parent reached out with concerns over a corporate prayer at the event, not the venue itself. The administration reached out to the venue and asked if they would consider replacing the corporate prayer with either a moment of silence, a welcome message, or what other venues typically provide for these types of events. The venue declined.