The UGAtheists at the University of Georgia in Athens is still trying to stop sectarian prayers from being recited during graduation. The prayer makes several references to “God” but not “Jesus”… so says the university by way of justification. So that makes it ok, right?
Stephen Joiner, the public relations chair for UGAtheists, is leading a group of about 30 students, many of them members of UGAtheists, in the fight to remove the prayer said during graduation.
The group has suggested replacing the prayer, which is led by an invited religious figure, with a separate and optional ceremony.
“I like to say I’m kind of acting on behalf of the student body,” Joiner said. “I feel like it’s important to stand up for people who either don’t know their rights are being infringed or are afraid to stand up for their rights.”
Amazingly, Stephen Shewmaker, the executive director for legal affairs at the school, responded with this:
“There have been no Supreme Court of the United States cases interpreting this issue,” Shewmaker wrote. “There have been some cases involving prayer at elementary and high school graduations or high school football games. These cases are distinguishable in that college age students are less impressionable and attendance at elementary and high school is mandatory.”
In other words, “We know this isn’t right, but you’re old enough to understand that, so shut up and stop making us look bad.”
In fact, there are plenty of court cases supporting the removal of sectarian prayers, and Joiner sent them to Shewmaker… who has yet to respond.
For the time being, Joiner maintains a “Stop Prayer at UGA Graduation” Facebook page.
“I would like if this were never a problem again for a UGA student,” he said. “Graduation is about everyone. It’s not about one particular religion.”
It’s not about religion, either. You could recite all the same platitudes without bringing God into it. These graduates worked hard for their degrees. They should be rewarded for it with a commencement that doesn’t give any credit to a non-existent deity for work the students did.