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Harrison Hopkins
South Carolina Secularist
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Harrison Hopkins has never been particularly religious. In his junior year at Laurens District 55 High in Laurens, SC, a public school, he learned that the graduating class was required to vote at an annual senior class meeting on whether a prayer should be read at graduation. After doing some research, he contacted the South Carolina ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation to inform them about the vote and the history of prayer at graduation. Laurens High responded, after receiving a letter from FFRF, stating that the prayer would not take place.

Once the prayer issue hit the local news, attention grew. He was told that Jesus loved him by some and that he would be jumped by others. On graduation night, the student body president, one of the speakers at the ceremony, stated that the controversy had strengthened his faith. He decided to read a prayer, which was greeted with a round of applause. Harrison isn’t particularly surprised that his desire to remove the school prayer has been treated with such hostility, as he understands that many within his South Carolina community have never had their religious faith challenged. He says he wants basic fairness and for religious people to understand that their religion is one of many, that no religion deserves special privilege within a public school or a public government.