How Did Greenwood High School’s Graduation Go?

Greenwood High School in Indiana is the place where school officials wanted to inject prayer into the graduation, let students vote on the matter (as if breaking the law is something you can vote on), were told by a judge that was illegal, and finally decided to simply “not screen” the graduation speeches.

Last night was the graduation.

How did it go?

Eric Workman, the valedictorian, showed exactly why he’s at the top of his class:

… Workman, who hadn’t spoken previously about his opposition to student-led prayer, told the audience he was taking a stand for the U.S. Constitution.

“No entity of government can endorse or promote religion or religious doctrine,” he said in a calm, professorial tone. “That includes school-sponsored prayer.”

Workman said he viewed the vote as a decision on whether “the Constitution should be violated,” and that the rights of the minority against prayer should be protected.

“My individual freedoms were subjugated,” the self-described scientist said in his speech.

After his speech, people clapped and cheered, though not as loudly as for other speakers. About two dozen gave him a standing ovation.

Workman told reporters that he would file the lawsuit again in a heartbeat — even though he is a Christian.

And the class president, Courtenay Elizabeth Cox, showed how she could easily win a popularity contest in that backwards community.

“I would like to give thanks to God,” she said, as the audience and graduates broke into cheers and applause. “None of us would even be alive, and I personally wouldn’t be standing here, without him.

“The staff here and my family helped me through a lot of hardships, but I would not have overcome any of those without my faith.”

Cox also read a verse from the Bible, adding, “Remember, people come and go, but God is always there for you… I believe he deserves to be thanked for that.”

She pandered to the crowd to get applause and mindlessly assumed that everyone in the audience would not be alive without her Christian god. In other words, screw you, anyone who isn’t Christian.

To be fair, what she said was legal.

In the end, Workman came out the victor:

Superintendent David Edds said the school will not hold student votes on the issue or try to hold graduation prayers in future years.

(Edits have been made to this piece since it was originally posted.)

  • http://laughinginpurgatory.blogspot.com/ Andrew Hall

    Winning is good, even when you have to listen to that Christian drivel.

  • Bruce

    Is there a copy of his speech? I would very much like to read what the brave young man had to say.

  • Sheila Lawrence

    I was there, my daughter graduated with them last night. Workman is a sociopath and I just felt lucky that he didn’t blow the place up with all of us in it.
    You left out some very important parts- such as the fact that as soon as Workman walked up to speak about 3/4 of the student body removed their caps and bowed their heads. Or the fact that as he droned on and on about how the school wasted money fighting him and blah blah blah…that the student body AND the audience all began coughing and clearing their throats so as not to have to listen to his BS.
    The cheers after he was finished were because he was DONE, lol NOT for his speech. His only friends, maybe 5 or 6 of them stood up.
    There was no need for him to mention the court case at all during his speech. No on else did. It was simply for attention, which is all he ever wanted in the first place.
    Also- he is NOT a Christian. He told the news media that, but anyone that knows him knows that’s not true. He is an atheist, which is fine. My trouble with the whole thing was that he told the court it was ‘injurious’ to him to have to listen to a prayer. Really? It’s injurious to me to have to share this world with him, maybe I’ll take him to court.
    The separation of church and state was meant to keep the government out of the churches. NOT to say that kids can’t have a prayer at their graduation.
    I’m sorry you, nor anyone else around the country…personally knows this student. If you did, I know you would feel differently about what he did. He doesn’t care about the constitution, or even the prayer. It was a final act of revenge against a student body that he loathed. He got his limelight and that’s ALL he wanted.

  • http://sixblindmenuniverse.blogspot.com/ vininger (Erin)

    I would love to contact him and commend him on having the guts to do what he did. Eighteen years ago, I found myself in a similar position (though there was no vote…it was simply standard to have a church service, or baccalaureate, as part of the graduation ceremony in my small-town public school). I took issue with it back then, but I bit my tongue and gave a nice, polite Valedictory speech (that had to be read and approved by the principal before I was allowed to give it).

    HUGE kudos to him for finding the strength and courage to do what I did not!!

  • tues82

    @Shelia Lawrence

    Shelia, your comment is truly…..religious of you. You call the young man a sociopath and that you were happy he didn’t blow the whole place up? I am very curiuos to know what personal information you have on the young man that privileges you to this background information on him. What does it matter to you what his religion is? Many kids across this country pretend to practice a religion they have no faith in because it’s whats expected and it will keep them from being ridiculed by their peers. You say he only has 5 or 6 friends that stood up. Are you mocking him? Maybe he’s not as popular as your daughter. You know what they say, the more populare the student…the better the liar they are. Good luck with your outlook on life lady.

  • Deiloh

    So how many kids did god kill before their graduation?… I know in the year that I graduated we had two drunk driving deaths. God is such a bastard.

  • Terry

    @ Sheila Lawrence: from your statements it is quite clear you are not a Christian and your statement that having to share the world with Mr. Workman is ‘injurious’ to you clearly shows that you, not he, is the sociopath in the group. Here’s hoping you don’t plan to fly a plane into a building full of atheists because they don’t believe in your mythology.

  • Nakor

    The separation of church and state was meant to keep the government out of the churches. NOT to say that kids can’t have a prayer at their graduation.

    Ignoring for the moment the remainder of your comments about someone I do not know, I think you’ve made a couple of mistakes here.

    First, separation of church and state was to keep the churches out of government, not just the opposite; government may not act in a fashion to support religion or impose it on others. It cannot govern religious thought, but can govern action where that action falls into the category of other non-discriminatory laws. It forces the government to be wholly secular, and is the reason churches lose tax-exempt status if they involve themselves in government.

    Second, your claim that people were stopping kids from praying. Nobody was. They cannot, however, be led in prayer, which is different. Students are more than welcome to pray individually or even get a group of kids of similar religion and pray, but they cannot impose that on the ceremony itself. When students are prevented from prayers to themselves, then you will have a complaint; but nobody here wants that to begin with.

    And frankly, someone who makes the baseless accusation that the guy might blow up a building isn’t likely to win me over to their viewpoint. It sounds like you’re pretty biased to me, and I’m inclined to think twice before trusting anything you say thanks to that.

  • Richard Wade

    Sheila Lawrence,
    All your “arguments” against Workman are ad hominem, trying to invalidate his position by referring to things you claim are objectionable about him personally.

    But none of that makes any difference. His position is about defending the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, the document that is responsible for YOU being able to worship the way YOU wish. He’s a man whom you dislike for petty reasons, but he’s trying to protect your liberty.

    You, like so many others at that school, blithely content in the illusory safety of your majority opinion, are a spoiled brat who wants all the protection of the Constitution but are not willing to take any of the responsibility. To enjoy your freedom, you must make certain that you do not exercise that freedom in a way that impinges upon the freedom of anyone else.

    If you are not willing to stand up and defend the rights of those who disagree with you, then you don’t deserve to have your rights.

    You said,

    The separation of church and state was meant to keep the government out of the churches.

    But you, like so many other naive people, leave out the other half, which is to keep churches out of the government. The founding fathers remembered vividly the horrors of the church-run states of Europe, and they wanted to make certain that it never happened in their new democracy. Some were theists, some were not, but they all knew that religion and government corrupt each other.

    You, as a Christian should be the MOST eager to protect this TWO-WAY separation of church and state, and you should oppose any crossing of that line in the smallest incident. You will be among the first to be disappointed and shocked if religion and government continue to blend. It will be your freedom to worship as you see fit that will be lost. You will have to worship as the government dictates to you. You are a complete sucker if you childishly assume that the government will prescribe worship exactly as your conscience wishes.

    Grow up and stand with us as we try to protect ALL our freedoms, not just those with whom you happen to agree.

  • @Sheila

    I bet god is an atheist too

  • beckster

    @sheila – Sounds like Mr. Workman is the most mature student of the student body if the others behaved how you say they did during his graduation speech. I am happy for him that he no longer has to put up with the childish antics of his classmates and their parents.

  • JulietEcho

    I was going to respond to Sheila, but Nakor and Richard already covered my main points.

    If Sheila’s description of the event is correct, the audience was extremely rude. Students who earn the honor to speak at graduations (usually by working for extremely high grades throughout their educations) are given that moment for whatever they want to say. Sometimes schools screen speeches to make sure they’re appropriate, but this school chose to forgo that process this year in order to make sure an unconstitutional event could take place without their approval being on paper. It was cowardly and stupid, and if they had screened speeches, perhaps they would have stopped Eric from mentioning the court case.

    No matter how boring, droning, or disagreeable you found his speech, you were obliged to sit through it politely, and any members of the audience who made noise or heckled him were behaving childishly and horribly. If I was in charge of such a solemn, memorable occasion for students, I would ask such audience members to leave immediately.

    Did anyone boo or make disruptive noise while Courtenay shared about God or read the Bible verse? Did Eric?

  • SpencerDub

    Did anyone boo or make disruptive noise while Courtenay shared about God or read the Bible verse? Did Eric?

    Well, of course not. That’s what made Eric wrong.

    </sarcasm>

  • http://alliedatheistalliance.blogspot.com/ advertisinglies

    Thank you, Sheila Lawrence, for making sure we all remember that the Constitution evidently doesn’t count in certain instances. And by certain instances, I mean whenever religious people want to do something that’s against the Constitution. Your argument from authority (you KNOWS him!!!!) is almost as compelling as your respect for the law of this land.

    Shine on, you crazy diamond.

  • dizzymama

    Small towns are a hard place for intelligent people to grow up.

  • http://www.christianfighterpilot.com/blog JD

    And the class president, Courtenay Elizabeth Cox, showed how she knows nothing about the law…

    Later followed by

    To be fair, what she said was legal…

    “Friendly” atheist?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @JD — You’re right; that is a contradiction on my part. I’ve updated the piece to clear that up. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • http://sixblindmenuniverse.blogspot.com/ vininger (Erin)

    Wow…Sheila made her comment while I was posting mine, so I missed it. The finer points have already been addressed so well by Richard and others, but I wanted to add a personal note.

    I’m sure that if I had bucked the system the way he did, I’d have had similar comments made about me. That I was a sociopath and was just looking for attention. This was back before Columbine, et al. so they probably wouldn’t have worried about me blowing up the school. It was already well-known that I was “weird.” And in a small town run by social cliques, parents were involved in almost as much gossip-mongering as were their teenagers. Ninety-nine percent of what people in my hometown “knew” about me was completely false (and my town was much smaller than Greenwood).

    The truth of the matter is that none of those people really knew me, and I doubt that Sheila really knows Workman. I’m not denying she knows WHO he is and that he is a classmate of her daughter’s…but that doesn’t mean she really knows him or understands exactly what personally motivates him.

    I don’t know the young man…but I do personally know what it’s like to grow up in a small town and be ostracized for not going along with the status quo. And the maturity level of Sheila’s comments give me the impression that THAT is precisely what’s coming into play here.

  • Bob

    @Sheila Lawrence:

    Despite your claims of this young man being a sociopath and unliked except for 5 or 6 friends, the fact remains that his is the class valedictorian – a student chosen by the faculty as being a leader in academic achievement.

    What he spoke out in favor of is true freedom of religion – freedom from the tyranny of a simple majority. Freedom from a government-mandated style and manner of worship.

    And where does this anger, this outrage, this disgust come from? Surely, it is not from observing the teachings of Christ Jesus nor following His footsteps. Where in the Bible did Christ teach that you should be petty and unforgiving?

    No, He taught that the way to the kingdom of heaven is both through Him, and that we must be as children – open, innocent, accepting – and not judgmental, wrathful, angry.

    Try it some time.

  • plutosdad

    All the evangelicals need to stop and think, what if the school decided to hire a Catholic priest to pray, and he prayed to Mary for the official benediction. And during the prayer thanked her and hoped all the others fighting the “one true church” saw the light. Would you like that? OR you feel like your beliefs were being trampled on by a government entity endorsing and supporting and paying someone to say that?

    That is the world you are asking for. The church ran the world in the past, just look at a history of Europe and all the death and destruction caused when churches and government were one (both Protestant and Catholic church leaders had people murdered for disagreeing.). The 1st amendment protects you. But it comes with responsibility.

    Why is it so hard for American Christians to put themselves in the shoes of Catholics or Muslims who have to listen to crap from them all the time? Or they should put themselves in the shoes of Hindus who aren’t even monotheists, or Buddhists for whom a god is not even remotely the same concept. Let’s face it “non denominational” means evangelical christian.

    It’s called empathy. Jesus had a boatload of it.

  • Ash

    Sheila Lawrence;

    It’s injurious to me to have to share this world with him, maybe I’ll take him to court.

    Maybe you should educate yourself as to what is illegal (say, going against the constitution) and what is legal (being fucking rude when someone gives a ‘boring’ speech).

    Workman is a sociopath

    FYI, libel is illegal.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    @ Sheila Lawrence, do you know what a sociopath actually is? I doubt it. It’s a serious disorder, and not one to be thrown around lightly. Here is a link (or google it yourself) to some characteristics of a real sociopath.

    http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

    On the contrary, the student appears to have been a valedictorian, which is slightly different than a sociopath, as many of the other commenters have said.

    And, good for Workman for giving a speech not intended to pander to the religious. And being all legal about it and whatnot.

  • Carol B

    Ah yes, Sheila Lawrence treats us all to another shining example of Christian love and tolerance.

    Don’t they ever get sick of all the hate and venom they spew out???

  • Nick

    Did anyone else besides me read down to the 2nd page of the greenwood newspaper article and find: “You can call her at (cell number).” Wait, why would the paper give out one of the student’s numbers?

  • JulietEcho

    @ Nick:

    I’m guessing that the student specifically asked (or at the very least consented) to having her number shared, possibly because she wants to “let people know that God is with [them] in [their lives],” as she’s quoted in the article.

    I hope people don’t spam her with calls. She’s done nothing wrong, unconstitutional, or intentionally offensive. Perhaps it was foolish to allow her number to be shared so widely though.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @Nick, JulietEcho — I’m pretty sure the number is referring to the reporter, not the student. They just made a mistake not changing the font there.

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  • http://www.willblog4laughs.blogspot.com/ skryvenor

    Just for clarification, Greenwood is repeatedly referred to as a “small town”, as if it is an isolated rural community. It is actually a south side suburb of Indianapolis, which is the 14th largest state in the nation. Although, imo, Indiana, in general, tends to espouse the conservative fundie mentality.

  • anti_supernaturalist

    the voice of Ameristan is not the voice of “God”

    Notice to the fundies of Ameristan:

    • “Even gods rot — can’t you smell the divine putrefaction?” — Nietzsche. FW sec 125.

    “God” is not king; Jesus Christ does not rule. They are dead — along with Ahura Mazda, YHVH, and Allah. Your priests and pastors, rabbis and imams cannot be divine proxies. They are politicos with delusions of theocracy. Who elevated you over us?

    If left to yourselves, the US would immediately become xian Pakistan. If we could keep our federal tax dollars from you, we would. Secede from the Union! Godspeed you on your way. Do you need a theocracy now? Convert to islam. Move to Saudi Arabia where life for 50% of you would be paradise.

    Cynical politicians of the Empire said “Vox populi, vox dei” The Roman Empire, of course, “ the voice of the people is the voice of god” — Give the mob what it wants — and you are Legion, the great ignorati.

    We know you Ameristan. Home to xian Taliban. Home to haters of reason, haters of women, haters of freedom of conscience. Home to disgusting dominionists and wannabe theocrats.

    • Don’t tread on us, xian oppressors.

    As long as you remain US citizens, you will not dictate what we should think, what we should believe, how we should behave in accordance with laws we give to ourselves under the Constitution. (Law did not originate in a voice from Sinai, or Mecca, or Jerusalem, or Salt Lake City, or worst of all US televangelist media wasteland.)

    We expect your rights to disbelief and freedom from religion under the Constitution to be respected by all in our secular state from which you benefit more than we. And that includes our right to free speech against your pseudo-gods on the air, on the internet, on other media including billboards, bus and subway advertising.

    If you imagine that the anti_supernaturalist enjoys “freedom of conscience” think again. Atheists are the most despised group in Ameristan. Look at the back of any dollar bill — “In God we trust” a cynical imperial slogan supported by our far-right courts— it’s an insult to 16% of the US population and a lighted match at the corner of the US Constitution.

    Even if the morally disgusting, vicious, paternalistic 1-god of the big-3 monster-theisms could be proven to exist, even if old Tom Paine’s white-washed deistic divinity could be established by Reason — we have the sovereign right to reject any claim that it must be acknowledged, accepted, or worshiped.

    We have the right (which even you must acknowledge) of going to your non-existent Hell by our own choice. (How else will I get to talk with Xenophanes, Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, Diogenes Laertius . . . they knew your kind as frauds and liars before your black death impulse even existed.)

    All gods are irrelevant to our freedom of conscience — The de-deification of western culture is our task for the next 100 years.

    the anti_supernaturalist

  • LeAnne

    I agree with dizzymama. Small towns are breeding grounds for stupidity. I’m not saying there’s not exceptions to the rule. It’s just hard to break the cycle of religion in the family if you stick around in that town. I live in Nebraska and there are small towns here that have church services for prom. If that’s not ridiculous (mostly because of what proms entail), I don’t know what is.

  • Tyler McCray

    I attended that graduation, and I was supposed to walk graduation with my peers; I chose not to. A majority of my classmates lack any form of good character, so I opted out of walking, and was the only one who did so. The community, as a whole, is very intolerant, indoctrinated, and biased. The school system is of very low quality. The teachers don’t teach and are extremely biased and unfair. The textbooks are so old we have science books that include chapters pertaining to god.

    Greenwood is a rather inept community, but there are always those people who are able to redeem society; one such being Eric Workman.

    Here is a copy of his speech, if anyone wanted to see it in its entirety:

    Hello, everyone. Tonight is a rather auspicious occasion, marking the closing of one door and the opening of several others. The Greenwood Community High School Class of 2010 has experienced much together—our journey has encompassed seven years, four of which have established a foundation for the rest of our lives. During these four years, some of us have found our niche in English, Foreign Language, Social Studies, Business, Physical Education, The Fine Arts, Mathematics, and/or The Sciences. For me, I found my place in the latter. Science never stops asking “why” until it has uncovered “how” and never stops asking “how” until it has determined “why.” Science uses both logic and reason to assess the world around us—to explain and improve our relative universe. Science is a product manifested from secular humanism; it is devoid of delusion, ideological zealotry, and blind ignorance. Science is, in essence, the purest form of intellect. In addition to finding a passion for science, though, I also learned that taking a stand for principles far surpasses the respect, the acceptance, or the repudiation of anyone.

    Thomas Jefferson once said, “In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” I have never fallen short of President Jefferson’s credo in this respect, as I am sure you are aware. You may not agree with my decision to fight for civil liberties, but I expect you to respectfully listen while I elucidate. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This implies that no entity, agent, or facet (however subsidiary) of the government is to ever endorse, promote, or encourage any form of religion or religious doctrine. This, as you may or may not know, includes school-sponsored prayer.

    In September of last year, our remarkably doltish administration called upon us all to vote in deciding whether or not we wanted the Constitution of the United States to be flagrantly violated. Understanding the law and knowing right from wrong, I vehemently opposed such an atrocious act from ever taking place. However, my one voice and the voices of others were shouted-down by most of you. Our rights and the law were disregarded. You see, subjecting government-endorsed prayer to a majority rule is, in and of itself, unconstitutional, let alone the government approbation of said prayer. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having said, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in [most] cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate [them] would be oppression.”

    Individual freedoms were subjugated, the United States Constitution was omitted, and most of you were unfazed. I, however, was fazed—I, however, took action to redress this grievance. On March 11th, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on my behalf to legally halt any and all school-sanctioned prayer at tonight’s commencement ceremony. On April 30th, Federal District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an injunction to do just that. In her ruling, Judge Barker stated that “the degree of school involvement ma[de] it clear that [any graduation] prayer [would] ‘bear the mark of the state,’ and accordingly [transgress] the Constitution.” I solemnly hope that you all do understand that the Greenwood Community School Corporation had its hand in this from the beginning, that the Greenwood Community School Corporation thought (and still likely thinks) it was and is above the law, and that neither the Greenwood Community School Corporation nor any other government entity is above the law. In challenging my lawsuit, the Greenwood Community School Corporation accrued a debt of legal fees and court costs to the ACLU, totaling approximately $18,000. For the School Corporation’s legal representation, you can expect the debt to be exorbitantly greater.

    It is rather unfortunate that Joe Farley and his Milquetoast myrmidons chose to allocate funds to battle, in futility, a precedent that has held firmly in law since its issuance from the United States Supreme Court. These tens of thousands of dollars could have been better used to maintain the teaching positions being cut in the coming academic year due to a lack and administrative mismanagement of funds. Nonetheless, $18,000 will be spent appropriately, helping the ACLU to further its mission to protect and defend freedom.

    Now, before I leave you with your thoughts, I would like to thank and acknowledge those who have, above all, influenced and inspired me for the better. Firstly and foremost, I thank my mother, Kathy, for believing in me and my abilities. Her love, care, and guidance have been immeasurable assets in my journey through life thus far. Secondly, I thank my sister, Tiffany, for being my rock in times of hardship. She will never know how grateful I am to have her in my life. Thirdly, I thank my grandparents, Richard and Betty, for providing me with the love and encouragement that enriches me, my life, and my future. Their hearts have touched mine more than they know. Fourthly, I thank Becky Kehler for shaping me into the scientist I am today—an individual who does not stop asking “why” until he has uncovered “how” and who does not stop asking “how” until he has determined “why.” It was she who gave me both the unparalleled opportunity and vast resources necessary to thrive and prosper as a research scientist in High School. Fifthly and finally, I thank Suzanne Schulz for teaching me to never compromise myself or my principles for anyone or anything. Her candor and unyielding disposition have been hallmarks in shaping me and my outlook on the world.

    Thank you for permitting me the chance to speak with you tonight. It has been a pleasure for me and, hopefully, a teaching moment for you. Before we part, though, I leave you with these words:

    “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double your danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!” – Sir Winston Churchill

    Congratulations, Class of 2010; the best is about to begin!

  • ExIndiana

    Great speech! I was born and raised in Indiana and I am glad to see that someone is standing up to the hypocrisy that is so rampant there. Most non-hoosiers probably are not aware of the fact that the official state license plate reads “in God we trust”. After some protest, an alternative plate was made available but the citizens have to ask for it when they renew their plates. Otherwise, they receive the IGWT plate by default.

  • Bruce George Twain

    I connot converse expertly on philosophy or theology, but it has been fascinating watching Greenwood, in which I was raised, be exposed a little bit on the national scene, and thought readers here might like the perspective of one person who has the intimacy of having grown up there, but the relatively more objective view of someone who’s been gone for decades (but still visits family there from time to time).

    It’s always been a very, very odd place, but what has surprised me, after having been gone 30 years, is how savage a place it has become.

    It was always very conservative, but that conservatism was tempered by a fairly strong libertarian bent as I remember. Think the politics of the Rockies states, basically. People were not very open to progressive ideas, but even the poorest and least educated seemed to have good manners, basically a lot of “common sense,” and a “live and let live” mentality one wouldn’t expect from a place some people call “a little slice of the OLD deep south which somehow made its way above the Mason-Dixon line.” A lot of that probably had to do with an effective school administration at Greenwood which seemed dedicated to some diversity in the high school staff (two of the best teachers in the school were an avowed atheist and the most openly religious teacher in the school who taught across the hall from eachother). This administration also assembled one of the best public high school arts programs in the country which probably tempered some of the small-minded bigotry that was typical of places just south of Indianapolis at that time.

    Actually it was a very fun place to grow up until about the age of 15.

    Upon returning for visits now, I do notice a couple of striking differences. The politics of the town now are almost completely intertwined with and dominated by two giant megachurches (one of which has muscled out commercial businesses in the town by running their own on church property tax-free. not sure how they get away with this). The other mega-church is run by a man who was quoted in the media as if he was not even aware that something called the Bill of Rights existed (basically in this country majority ALWAYS trumps minority).

    The other thing may seem trivial, but is to me symbolic of the savage, self-righteous and generally dreary take on life this new guard of religious fundamentalists who seem to have taken over the city bring to the table, (and echoed in the post from the graduation attendee above and her Columbine hysteria, of course).

    A big hill in the town lies on a property owned by a grumpy woman who nevertheless generously shared it with the community for sledding on snowy days. It was purchased by a secretive, almost cultish Christian group who immediatedly fenced the huge property so the kids no longer had a place to sled during the winter. In my mind, just very mean behavior. And their followers race their SUVs with “In God We Trust” license plates at high speeds through the neighborhood to get to their “church,” oblivious to the other kids playing in the neighborhood.

    And speaking of those “In God We Trust” license plates ExIndiana mentioned, they are the worst public relations Jesus ever had. On almost every visit to Greenwood I can expect the jerks who cut me off, or ride close behind my bumper, or flash the middle finger to somebody, or who seem oblivious to anybody on the road but themselves, to be sporting one of those plates with the giant bright word GOD lying over the beautiful American flag. And you guessed it, the legislator responsible for pushing those plates through in a very clever but manipulative way was the local State Senator who represents Greenwood.

    I’m left with a few questions. Is this type of thing happening in suburbs across the country?

    Or more likely, as the U.S. population is becoming more diverse, are the very black-and-white thinking, fundamentalist people congregating together in certain place that to them feel like “safe havens?”

    Or is this about something deeper than organized religion, the congreagtion in certain places of people of a certain psychological bent, who have a high need for order and to only be around people who look, act and think like they do, because those “other” people are too scary? If you ever visit Greenwood, you can’t help but be struck by the number of trees that are “topped.” It’s as if there is a city-wide OCD that if a tree has the slightest bit of beautiful assymetry, it must be lopped off immediately to preserve perfect order for the community.

    I can tell you that the disgusting display of hatred from so-called Christian adults – the threats of violence, the hysteria trying to couch him as a Columbine shooter-type – none of this would have happened in my hometown 30 years ago.

  • rachel smith

    I live in greenwood and was a member of the 2010 graduating class. I do not agree or disagree with what happened. I can see both sides of the argument. I am not christian but did vote to have the prayer based on tradition, like many of my classmates. I think Eric was very brave to do what he did. All of the parents and students who acted so rude during his speech really need to learn some manners. My only complaint is that it was really unfair to the rest of the graduating class to have our graduation be turned into such a monster.Everyone completely forgot about the fact that we were celebrating our achievments. That is what our graduation should have been about. Also, I don’t appreciate all the negativity that was brought on about our town. Sure, we have our problems but it is not a horrible place. It is not as small of a town as many make it out to be and we are not all ignorant and small minded. I think we all need to be respectful of eachothers feelings and beliefs.


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