An Illinois school district is under fire for prohibiting an eighth grader from delivering a speech at graduation due to its religious content. Instead, Seth Clark, salutatorian at Akin Grade School in southern Illinois, made his remarks in front of several dozen classmates and supporters on a neighbor’s lawn across the street from the school. According to WSIL News 3, the controversy began earlier this month after Clark submitted his speech, which included Bible verses and a prayer, to

administrators for review and was told he could not deliver it as written. In a prepared statement, Akin superintendent and principal Kelly Clark argued that while the religious beliefs of students are respected, they cannot be part of a public school ceremony. “While students are welcome to pray or pursue their faith without disrupting school or infringing upon the rights of others, the United States Constitution prohibits the school district from incorporating such activities as part of school-sponsored events, and when the context causes a captive audience to listen or compels other students to participate,” the principal said.  READ MORE