Lewis-Clark State College and Idaho State University will stick with formal prayer at their commencement ceremonies this spring, although the American Civil Liberties Union questioned the same practice at the University of Idaho.
The ACLU will not challenge the practice at the other two schools unless complaints are filed about it, said Jack Van Valkenburgh, director of the ACLU's Idaho chapter.Two weeks ago, University of Idaho President Elisabeth Zinser announced the school would replace the formal invocation and benediction with a moment of silence at its graduation ceremony next spring.
In following the recommendation of the school's commencement committee, she said the long-standing practice of prayer was dropped in recognition of the multi-religious and multi-racial makeup of the school.
LCSC President Lee Vickers said Friday Lewiston college has had prayers at its graduation ceremonies for more than 100 years and there is no reason to abandon it.
"We don't believe it is in any way pushing one religion on anyone at graduation," he said.
Vickers noted LCSC's student government selects the clergy for the graduation ceremony and representatives from a wide variety of churches have led the prayers over the years.
"There have been no concerns raised, so we feel there is no reason to modify it," he said.
At Pocatello, Idaho State University will continue with an invocation and benediction at its graduation until a court rules otherwise, said Kent Tingey, ISU university relations director.
"We will have to see what happens in the courts," he said.
At Boise State University, the school's commencement committee this month will consider whether to recommend the school retain its invocation and benediction for graduation, said Larry Burke, BSU university relations chief.
The prayer issue has not been raised before the state Board of Education, which oversees the four-year schools, said Brad Hall, the board's chief legal officer.
Before Zinser announced the school would adopt a moment of silence, the ACLU indicated it might sue the UI to stop the prayer.
Van Valkenburgh said the ACLU has not raised the prayer issue at the other three schools because no complaints have been received.
Van Valkenburg said LCSC cannot hope to represent all spiritual and religious views including Hinduism, agnosticism and atheism by using a wide variety of clergy.
"No graduating student should have to endure a particular viewpoint being promoted at a graduation," he said.
"If you carry this to the extreme, we would get rid of $1 bills because they say, `In God We Trust,' " Vickers said.