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However, FFRF claims the pastor is encouraging students to break the law. “He is inciting people to violate the law,” Seidel said. He said the pastor, in his reward video, “misconstrued the facts.”

Klingenschmitt said the group’s letter states it annually gives thousands of dollars to students who “stand up for atheism” and also stated it would “incentivize a free thought message and discourage prayers.”

Seidel said his letter to the school board indicated his group would “publicize our awards if the school district adopted the policy. … [But] we would never suggest a student, atheist or otherwise, get up and break a law or get up to the microphone and give a message when it is illegal.”

“If the atheists are offering monetary rewards to students not to pray, it’s only fair Christians can offer monetary rewards, too,” Klingenschmitt said. He called the atheist group “hypocritical.”

The reward is good for the next four years, said the chaplain. He explained that of the six high schools in St. John’s County, “I expect in the next four years we will have one student stand up to pray.”

Frank Upchurch III, the attorney for the school district, said the DOE’s guidance on school prayer is clear and also relates to graduation. “That’s the policy we follow,” he said.

That guidance states that students at graduation retain “primary control over the content of their expression” and as long as that expression is not attributable to the school, it therefore “may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.”

Upchurch said previous graduation addresses have been “celebratory and uplifting, and no one was censoring students’ addresses to purge any references to faith.”

Klingenschmkitt told the Washington Free Beacon he has already raised $835 of the $1,000 needed for the reward.