Outspoken evangelist preacher Franklin Graham says he's worried Christians are being sued into silence — blasting a $7,500 fine against a Mississippi school district that opened an optional student assembly with a prayer.
"Suing is a tactic being used to intimidate Christians and to trample on our religious freedoms — it's an epidemic," Graham writes on his Facebook page.
Graham, president of the foundation named after his famed father, Billy Graham, and leader of the global charity Samaritan's Purse, linked to a Fox News report
of the fine on the Rankin, Miss. school district for defying a previous federal court order barring prayers at school events.
Fox News reported District Judge Carlton Reeves said the most recent violation was in defiance of a 2013 court settlement ordering the district to stop "proselytizing Christianity."
"The district's breach did not take very long and it occurred in a very bold way," Reeves wrote in his judgment, Fox News reports. "Its conduct displays that the district did not make any effort to adhere to the agreed judgment."
The district lawyers had argued the prayer didn't violate the 2013 orders or the First Amendment rights of the student who brought the legal action, because attendance at the assembly was strictly optional.
Rankin County Superintendent Lynn Weathersby said despite the court's ruling, students and teachers will continue to pray. However, district staff will have to adjust in order to comply with the ruling, the Christian Post reports
"As long as there is testing in schools, we believe that teachers, principals and students will continue to pray," he said. "That being said, the school district will certainly abide by the order of any court to the best of its ability and will take whatever action necessary to make sure that all principals and teachers are updated on the current status of the law and that order."
"God bless them!" Graham writes on Facebook. "As Christians we've got to take a stand for our religious freedoms. It's a new day in America — Christianity is in the direct line of fire. Pray for this superintendent and school system, and for all those coming under attack right here in our own country."
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