During the recent graduation ceremony at Montana State University – Northern, a pastor walked on stage and made several references to Jesus Christ.
Elizabeth Griffing, Legal Director at the ACLU of Montana, sent school officials a letter (PDF) explaining what they needed to do:
Makes sense, considering it was obviously illegal.
So what did the (Christian) Alliance Defense Fund do?
They sent school officials a letter essentially saying, “Don’t worry about the ACLU. They’re just making everything up. Go ahead and continue proselytizing.”
This is really what they wrote (PDF). (Really):
For the invocation, he simply explained to the audience what an invocation is, noting that it was his privilege and honor to invite God to be present at this ceremony. Then he blessed the graduates, closing his prayer in Jesus’ name. For the benediction, he simply read Psalm 1, noting that it outlined the Biblical guidelines for success. Then he prayed again for the graduates, asking that they would be blessed, and closed his prayer in Jesus’ name. Never did he discuss a personal relationship with Jesus or reference Christ as a personal Savior. And he never offered a public invitation, urged people to convert to Christianity, discussed or disparaged another faith, or engaged in any of the hallmarks of “proselytizing.”
See? There was no proselytizing! There were only prayers with references to Jesus and readings from the Bible. Why would any student be troubled by that?!
I know the ACLU prefers to settle out of court. But part of me wants to see the ACLU take the school (and ADF) to court and crush them.
Montana State University officials — probably already strapped for cash like other schools in the country — would be wise to publicly apologize and never allow a priest to be part of that ceremony again. If Christians want to pray before graduation, I’m sure there are churches in the area that would gladly host a service for them.
Atheist Craig James asks the obvious questions:
Why, in this day and age, do Christians feel they can use the state or federal government to force their prayers on other people? Is there some reason that their private prayers and their prayers in church are ineffective? Doesn’t God listen during their private prayers? Do they have to pray at the event in order for God to listen? Or is God sort of deaf, and only listens when thousands pray?
(via The Religion Virus)