Despite their best efforts, the university went ahead and made god a part of the graduation.
Stephen Joiner, the public relations chair for UGAtheists, has the video and a rough transcript:
“This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Lord God almighty what a joy to witness the celebration of this
gathering of women, men [???] pursue a degree from the University of Georgia. You have combined families, friends, and resources to make today a reality. It is just like 1785 when You called Abraham Baldwin to leave the comfort and security of Yale Divinity School to come here and be an educational pioneer and begin UGA out of nothing.
And so you continue to bring people here from around the United States and over 112 nations in this world. Thank you for the privilege and honor of being at UGA; this is a place that you love and support. [???] You know every person in this room; you know the struggles, the joys, the setbacks, and the friendships made. You yourself know what it is like to sacrifice and suffer for the joy of accomplishing that which seems impossible. Lord, as women and men lead this sacred life, would you enable them to walk into a life of service, for this is a great time to roll back ignorance, decay, and suffering and you are providing them worldwide opportunities to change lives, to bring beauty, and to comfort those with no hope.Grant, oh God, as one man said, that these graduates be able to do all the good they can by all the means they can in all the ways they can in all the places they can at all the times they can to all the people they can, as long as ever they can. I commit this time of recognition and celebration to you. Please bless all. Amen. ” –December 16th, 2011
Courts have generally ruled that non-denominational prayers are acceptable at public graduations, but the initial reference to Psalm 118:24 and a “suffering” god indicate this is specifically a Christian prayer.
At what point does it go from being a generic prayer to being a Christian prayer? When does it cross the line? Is there a case to be made for this prayer going too far?
Even if nothing comes of it, the UGAtheists did the right thing by bringing this to our attention and we need to keep supporting groups who try to keep god out of public graduations.