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May 25th is when students from Georgia’s Southwest DeKalb High School will have their graduation ceremony. In order to accommodate al the students and their families, the event will take place at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the home of sex-scandal-ed pastor Eddie Long.

16-year-old Nahkoura Mahnassi and her mother want no part of that — it’s bad enough who the pastor is, but they don’t believe the ceremony should be taking place at a church:

Nahkoura Mahnassi (left) and her mother Alisha Brown (via WSB TV)

Nahkoura Mahnassi, 16, and her mother, Alisha Brown, said it’s a poor choice on the schools part because not everyone is a Christian and they feel like the ceremony should be held at the school or at a neutral venue like the Georgia Dome.

Mahnassi said her long story can be summarized down in part because she and her mother don’t have a religious affiliation.

“People don’t all have the same views and that having it at one place where the major views are Christian, it’s completely different for some people,” explained Mahnassi.

Brown said a church should not be used for the ceremony just because it’s a big venue.

“A church is a place you go to worship your God. I’m not a Christian. Church and state should be separated. That’s what I heard so to have it at a church, especially at New Birth is a slap in the face,” Brown said.

Way to fight the good fight! Before you get the idea that Mahnassi wants to get out of the ceremony, realize she’s also an honors student who would likely be getting some special recognition at the event.

It’s always a tricky situation when public schools hold events at church venues. You have to wonder what the church is getting in return — Will the pastor be speaking at the ceremony? Will Christian symbolism/brochures be littered across the place? Will attendees be encouraged to come back on their own? Were any other venues available for the same cost (or lower)?

We don’t have all those answers right now.

One thing you can probably bet good money on? If this was a large mosque, the school wouldn’t have even considered it as a graduation venue.

It’s a brave thing Mahnassi is doing and how wonderful is it to see her mother supporting her decision?! Now, let’s see some other students join her boycott.

(Thanks to June Marie for the link!)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.