A federal district court in Wisconsin has ruled that a school district did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by holding high school graduation ceremonies at a local church. The court was not persuaded that “obligatory participation in a secular graduation ceremony, albeit in a church,” was “sufficiently similar to obligatory participation, even through silence, in religious prayer.” The court found that there was no religious exercise in the case, and that the practice of holding ceremonies at the church did not have the primary effect of endorsing religion. For the full opinion, click here.

Compare this decision with the recent Connecticut case where the District of Connecticut issued a preliminary injunction barring a local district from holding its high school graduation ceremonies at a local church under similar facts.  Click here for a description of that case.