ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla.– St. Johns County school board votes don’t usually get national attention. But a vote “no” to allowing an inspirational message or prayers at graduation is.
Former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt hosts a TV show in Colorado called “Pray In Jesus’ Name.” When he heard the St. Johns school board vote, he took to the airwaves.
The first student to say “The Lord’s Prayer” or pray in the name of Jesus at a graduation ceremony in St. Johns County, will walk away with a $1,000 scholarship.
We spoke to Klingenschmitt over the phone about his pledge.
“Our goal is not to create a controversy. Our goal is not to get a message. Our goal is to defend religious freedom and free speech,” he explained.
We also reached out to school district leaders. We got this statement by Board Chairman Tommy Allen:
“We will follow the law as we always have and not violate any student’s constitutional rights or the establishment clause. It would be inappropriate for me to get into hypothetical situations.”
“Society in general has gotten way too politically correct. I think that everybody just needs to relax,” parent John Davis said.
Student Lucy Dean’s mom wanted her to speak on behalf of her classmates.
‘I think it’s cool that he stood up like that and offered the money,” she said.
“Would you feel uncomfortable if your child was at a graduation ceremony and heard a kid pray?” we asked.
“Not at all. One nation under God,” Davis said.
And now, one local School Board vote has the nation’s attention.
Kligenschmitt says he’s taking this thing seriously. He plans on offering the scholarship every year for the next four years.