Valedictorian’s Benediction Gets Way Out Of Hand

Stick with this video to its bizarre ending.  I oppose benedictions and forced group prayer in public institutions because of the offensive presumption to speak on behalf of a mixed group in the case of group prayer and the arrogant presumption that the audience accepts the authority of the giver of the benediction to invoke a divine blessing on anyone else in the case of a benediction.  Of course, I don’t mind at my own school since it’s a private institution and clearly religiously affiliated.  I knew what I signed up for and accept it.  And I also don’t mind if valedictorians, public officials, and other publicly designated speakers include among their remarks a mention of what they pray for.  So, rather than a valedictorian praying on behalf or praying for me, she may report during her speech that she prays for certain things related to me.  That’s fine with me, just don’t presume to lead me in prayer or try to invoke blessings or curses upon me in an event sponsored by a public institution.     That’s how I try to thread the needle of public freedom to express private beliefs in a way that does not violate the separation of religious practices and institutions from public ones.  In this wild video, this valedictorian does not even attempt to thread any such needles but rather works herself up into a creepy breakdown:

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via Proud Atheists (who also offer more wild videos worth watching for those who like watching train wrecks of the religious variety.)

For what I consider to be a far more admirable benediction, check this out.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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