It was the best kept secret in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Just moments before the graduation ceremony at East Liverpool High School on Sunday, the senior class gathered in a nearby auditorium. Together, they decided to do something that would make national headlines.
The week before students learned they would no longer be allowed to perform “The Lord’s Prayer” – a graduation tradition dating back some 70 years.
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East Liverpool High School graduate Bobby Hill with his grandmother Barbara Hill, father Robert and brother Jonathan.
(Courtesy Robert Hill)
The school district banned the song after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained that “The Lord’s Prayer” violated the U.S. Constitution and promoted religion.”
Fearing a possible lawsuit, the district dropped the tradition – which seemed to appease the group of perpetually-offended atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers from Wisconsin. You can read more about these loathsome bullies in my best-selling book “God Less America.”
The school district’s decision devastated the entire community — especially students in the high school’s esteemed music program.
“It breaks my heart,” choir director Lisa Ensinger told me. “Our students are really sad.”
It appeared a cherished tradition would be eradicated to satisfy the bloodlust of a bunch of out-of-town bullies.
And that brings me back to the senior class – gathered in that room last Sunday. They were lining up to march when some of them began talking about that long time tradition – now outlawed.
“Pretty much everyone was in agreement,” senior Bobby Hill told me.
The graduating class had decided to defy the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
“The class thought it was wrong that we were being forced to remove it,” Bobby said.
Bobby’s father was sitting in the bleachers inside the gymnasium when he received a text message from his son.
“He told me when and how they were going to do it,” Mr. Hill told me. “I was thrilled to find out.”
Just after the valedictorian welcomed the crowd, the seniors stood to their feet and began committing an act of disobedience.
“Our Father which art in Heaven…”
“I was very proud to see the youth, our future leaders, decide to stand up for what they believed in,” Mr. Hill said. “I can’t lie—I teared up.”
It was an emotional moment – a poignant example of Americans standing up for what they know to be true – for what they know to be right.
“I’ve always taught my two boys to stand up for what you believe is right,” Mr. Hill said. “The same lesson my parents taught me. It doesn’t matter if it’s over religion or something else – take a stand.”
Technically, the graduation class did not break any rules. They were ordered not to sing “The Lord’s Prayer.” The school district did not say anything about reciting “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Meanwhile, back in Wisconsin those meddling menaces from the Freedom From Religion Foundation are muttering under the breath, “Curses, foiled again.”
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.” Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.