Just days away from walking across the stage and finishing high school, senior Gabriel Broadway gets a text message that surprised her. "I got a forward about not being able to pray. I'd like my future to be blessed." said Broadway.
Gabriel and 200 other students from Bastrop High School will not have prayer at their Friday graduation ceremony.
Why? An atheist student who says his constitutional rights will be violated at the commencement ceremony. Stacey Pullen, principal at Bastrop High says it all started with an email she received on Tuesday. The email sent by the atheist student said prayer at the ceremony would be a direct violation to his constitutional rights.
Pullen says with the advice of school Attorney Steve Katz, the prayer has been removed. "We did make the decision to take our prayer off our program. We'll observe a moment of silence in place of prayer at our graduation." said Pullen. So where does that leave students like Gabriel and those who believe in prayer? "I'm a Christian, I don't think its right that we shouldn't pray for our seniors" said Broadway. "He's one student out of over 200 plus. I don't think it should deprive the rest of the student body from prayer." said Dakota Hawkins, another senior from Bastrop High School.
Concerned parents say, prayer is not forced on anyone. "If he's an atheist let him believe what he wants to believe, but he doesn't have to participate. He doesn't have to bow his head. It's his choice." said Ross Carter, whose daughter is graduating on Friday.
One thing is for sure; parents, students and members of the community filled the steps of 1st Baptist Church not because they're angry but because they believe in one thing: Their faith in God. And on Friday, regardless of what happens, on this afternoon; they prayed.