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Religious Speech Banned at W. Va. Graduation

09-08-2014

Religiously themed speeches are no longer allowed at Winfield High School's graduation ceremony in West Virginia.

Retired football coach Leon McCoy has given a speech at the school's graduation every year for the past decade, and he usually includes prayer and scripture.

But that tradition was ended after several people complained to the Putnam County School District, saying McCoy's speech's violated the separation of church and state.

Principal Bruce McGrew, also a Christian, said he doesn't agree with the law, but he has to enforce it.

"It was not something that I wanted to do because of my personal belief," McGrew said. "Unfortunately, whether we agree with a law or not, all public schools, including Winfield, are in the position of making decisions that must comply with the law."

Coach McCoy agreed.

"I want to do what is right," he said in a statement. "As Christians, we have been, in the past, able to express our views, but we can't forget about the law."

"If we are breaking the law, we have to make adjustments," he said. "This is not a decision of the board; this is the law. I hope people will take my lead."

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