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Student sues over prayer at graduation with help from Wis. group

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – An Irmo High School graduate has sued to stop prayers at future graduation ceremonies.

Eighteen-year-old Matthew Nielson sued to block prayer, saying the invocation offered at his ceremony amounted to an endorsement of religion. Nielson, who brought the lawsuit with help from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Wisconsin, said he had suggested a moment of silence for people to reflect or pray privately.

According to his lawsuit, school-sponsored voting that authorized a student to deliver an invocation violated the separation of church and state. Lexington-Richland 5 school officials say 61 percent of the seniors voted in favor of the prayer.

Superintendent Stephen Hefner said the prayer at graduation was initiated by students and offered by a student so there was no violation.

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