When contemplating use of a church for graduation, school officials would do well to consider Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's views in Lynch v. Donnelly, a 1984 Supreme Court decision.
The establishment clause of the First Amendment is violated, she argued, when government endorsement of religion "sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community."
If there's any time when students shouldn't be made to feel like outsiders, it would be at their high school graduation.
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Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., 20001. Web: firstamendmentcenter.org . E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org