Even After Atheists Stop a Formal Prayer, This Kentucky High School’s Graduation Ceremony Still Honors Jesus

On Friday night, Lincoln County High School held its graduation. If the school’s name rings a bell, it’s because the administration had traditionally allowed (the obviously-mostly-Christian) students to vote on whether or not they wanted to say a prayer at the event, and — can you believe it?! — they always voted yes!

But this year, that changed when a group of atheist students spoke with the principal:

Bradley Chester, a graduating senior, is an atheist and one of the students who approached [Principal Tim] Godbey about not having prayer at graduation.

“I feel like you shouldn’t force your religion upon anybody,” Chester said in an interview with WKYT in Lexington. “And a lot of people are saying if there are prayers at graduation, you don’t have to participate, you can sit there and not listen, close your ears. Well, one, it’s my graduation. I shouldn’t have to close my ears.

“This is a place for school, not a church. I feel like I’m graduating from Lincoln County High, not Lincoln County Church.”

The administration and school board, knowing they would lose a lawsuit if they continued their old ways, half-heartedly canceled the invocation, but made it very clear that they would not screen students’ speeches beforehand… so if, say, the class president wanted to pray during his speech, they wouldn’t stop him…

Initially, I thought that the Senior Class President, Jonathan Hardwick, would do the right thing. He didn’t seem to understand a thing about church/state separation, but at least he could empathize with people who were forced to listen to a prayer to a God they didn’t believe in:

Senior class President Jonathan Hardwick, a Christian, said he hasn’t decided yet whether he will pray during his speech to classmates. He said he listened to the six students who don’t want prayer and can empathize with their situation.

“I talked to them and most of them said they just didn’t feel like they should listen to a prayer at their graduation to a god they don’t believe in,” he said. “I can understand their viewpoint because if I was in their shoes, I wouldn’t want to listen to a prayer to a god I didn’t believe in. If a Muslim was saying a prayer to their god, I wouldn’t want to sit there and listen to that, so I understand their viewpoint.”

So what happened Friday night?

Hardwick and the majority of people in the audience gave a metaphorical middle finger to everyone who wasn’t a Christian. He said a prayer — to Jesus Christ, in case there was any doubt that Christians are in the majority in this community — and they gave him a long standing ovation:

To be clear, Hardwick didn’t do anything illegal, but that doesn’t mean he did the right thing. The fact that the response was so over-the-top — as if Hardwick did something brave and noble — is just a sign that the community doesn’t give a damn about the laws. They want everything to be about Jesus, and they’re not letting the Constitution or non-Christian students get in their way.

Ricky Smith, a local atheist who has had some success of his own at getting God out of politics, attended the graduation at the request of some of the non-Christian parents and students. He said (via email) that the prayer wasn’t the only example of Christians sticking it to everybody else:

As I was pulling into the school parking lot, there was some church people at the entrance of the school and across the street from the school holding up “Jesus Saves” signs, [every one] of them yelling and screaming. As I drove into the parking lot I noticed a lot of Kentucky State police officers waking around and in the school… After the prayer, the people got up and gave a standing ovation… This sickened me to my stomach that I couldn’t stay and watch anymore of the ceremony… Afterward, I couldn’t help [but] think of how crude and rude that was to the people who were non-Christians students and friends and family members. Only people that got respected at this graduation were the Christians.

Public school graduations are supposed to honor all the students, celebrate what they have accomplished, and wish them well as they move on to the next phase of their lives. But the people at Lincoln County High School and the surrounding community decided long ago that their ceremonies shouldn’t focus on any of that. Instead, they should make non-Christians feel uncomfortable, unwanted, and unappreciated.

Sure, they could have prayed at home before attending the ceremony, but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted a public display of faith — and at the first attempt to keep the ceremony neutral, they reacted as if they were the ones being oppressed and marginalized. Even the class president, knowing how the non-Christian students would feel, decided to kick them while they were down. Instead of standing up for the voiceless minority — which a good leader would do — he took the easy path of telling the majority he agreed with them. A better president, even if he were Christian, would have chosen a different path.

Normally standing ovations are reserved for people who do something extraordinary. In this case, the audience gave Hardwick one, not because he did that, but more as a rebuke to those students who challenged the notion that a graduation ceremony shouldn’t be like a church service.

What a disappointing showcase for the school — to have a graduation ceremony be all about Jesus instead of all those students who worked so hard to get to this point.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    This is Kentucky, a backwater, third world state. Of course the community doesn’t give a damn. Given a choice, they’d opt for a theocracy.

    Perhaps atheist students need to fight back more aggressively. In their speeches, they could thank Zeus, or Allah, or the FSM. Is that hypocritical? Maybe, in a sense. But it also serves to deliver a message that can perhaps not be delivered in any other way. They could say “I’m thankful that despite being educated by deluded adults who believe in magic beings, I’ve grown up, learned something, and can now go out into the real world, leaving my snaggle-toothed hillbilly schoolmates and teachers to fester in their primitive superstition”.

    While I believe that all graduation speeches should be vetted, if they’re not, atheists should be as free to take advantage of that as religionists.

    • glenn dork

      This is Kentucky, a backwater, third world state.

      Gosh! You make it sound like that’s the only part of the states where people’s brains have been melted by religion…

      Remember: only 40% of the US population accepts evolution.
      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/08/060810-evolution.html

      • C Peterson

        Yes, much of the U.S. citizenry consists of deluded idiots.

        Nevertheless, Kentucky is consistently in the worst 10 states in so many areas: crime, divorce, teen pregnancy, poverty, life expectancy, health. It, and the states around it, are a big part of the social problems in the U.S., and recognizing that it has a third world status within the U.S. is the first step in figuring out how to fix it.

        • Rev. Achron Timeless

          Living in KY, I can confirm this. That 40% is national, not per state. You’re going to have a LOT more people who think creation fairy tales are actual science here than you would in say WA.

          • Miss_Beara

            I really don’t know how you or anyone else can stand living in a state like Kentucky. I think about how it might be, but I know I am underestimating my wonderments. The stories I read from southern atheists here and elsewhere leave me speechless.

            • Rev. Achron Timeless

              Oh, that’s easy: I can’t stand it at all. Unfortunately, the combination of limited income and concerns about the poor health of my parents keeps me chained to the state. Even if I could afford to move, I’d probably be back in a couple years to care for them.

              Somehow I think that’d be worse. Getting to live in an area free from this nonsense, only having to come back to it.

            • Matt

              I agree with Achron here. I am currently living in Tennessee due to circumstances beyond my control. I think daily of ways that I can find a way to move to Washington, but I have yet to be able to find a valid way to do so. It will happen one day, probably when my daughter turns 18 and we can get away from the clutches of her asshole, fundamentalist father.

        • glenn dork

          hahahah so consistency is not always a good thing…

        • Sue Blue

          That’s why the Australian con man Ken Ham built his Moron Magnet “Creation Museum” in Kentucky…and was going to build a so-called “Noah’s Ark Park” there too. Last I heard he was attempting to squeeze Kentucky taxpayers to foot the bill for his latest religious travesty.

          • allein

            I forwarded my friend the recent post about the Creation Museum visit and now she really wants to take a road trip (purely for the lulz). She also wants to go to Big Bone Lick State Park, so I suppose that redeems her.

    • JET

      The difference is that more intelligent, secular, open-minded students realize that their very important, rite of passage high school graduation is not the correct place to be a jerk. There’s something to be said for taking the high road and letting the actual jerks point out their own jerkiness.

      • C Peterson

        Sometimes, however, being a jerk is the only way to get a point across… especially when you’re trying to make that point to jerks! It’s why FFRF, for instance, has to put up “jerky” solstice signs around the country every year, something they’d rather not do.

      • Ross Gibson

        This is the perfect place to be a jerk, This is one of the last points in their lives that they can stand up for what they believe is right, and actually get something done. From here on out, it gets harder, and harder. So for those high school students I say, Go on, be assholes, get that separation of church and state, even if it is just for that half hour.

  • Travis Myers

    Jesus would be so proud of them:

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

    • Hat Stealer

      I’ve said it before, but these are the people who think that Jesus told them to love guns. What the Bible actually says has very little to do with it.

      • Lee Miller

        Most of them have no clue what the Bible actually says. They’re mindless followers of religious manipulators. Ask any of them to take a closed-book test and write down all ten of the 10 Commandments. They’ll all fail.

        • Ann Onymous

          And, of course, few have ever read the whole Bible straight through, so they don’t know how much their all-loving god loves, among other things, slavey, misogyny, and murder.

    • Rwlawoffice

      I love it when an atheist (don’t know if you are one so it may not apply to you) quotes this verse when they are arguing that Christians should be quiet. The verse does not mean, nor does the Bible teach that all prayer should be quiet. The verse along with those that surround it teach that we are to be sincere in all we do for the Lord. Whether it is to give money, do good deeds or pray, we are to do it from the heart for the glory of God and not for the glory of man. The Bible teaches us as well that we are to pray in groups and worship god together and at all times and in all places.

      • C Peterson

        No, the verse says that ostentatious prayer is bad. And make no mistake, the sort of prayer that we see at these events is ostentatious. It is insincere. It has nothing to do with thanking any gods, and everything to do with wearing your religion on your sleeve. It is inappropriate, by civil standards, and by Christian standards.

        • Gus Snarp

          This, and a bit more. This prayer was all about politics, about sticking it to the atheists and people of other faiths. It was using Jesus and prayer as props in a demonstration. I would think that would be offensive to any true believer and is clearly antithetical to the supposed teachings of Jesus.

      • busterggi

        “The verse does not mean, nor does the Bible teach that all prayer should be quiet. ”
        Of course not, that’s only what it says but you just reinterpret it to your convenience. Maybe it also says black is white if correctly interpreted.

        • Andrew

          You say these things because you think it’s a religion. You think we reinterpret and move around meanings for our benefit, but there is a basis for all of it.

          It’s called understanding.

      • parisky

        …this verse is exactly the case in this event. The people were praying expressly “to be seen of men” — which is why a silent prayer or church service afterward wouldn’t suffice. You are correct that jesus didn’t condemn praying aloud among christians, but this was supposed to be a secular event.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Regardless of the real intent of Mathew 6:5, do you think this particular set of Christian display of faith, including the yelling and the signs and the extended standing ovation, qualifies as “standing on the street corners”?

        • Rwlawoffice

          I don’t know the heart of the speaker who gave the prayer. If he was sincerely giving thanks then all the shouting and standing ovations would not change that.

          • C Peterson

            Compare prayer in a church- a solemn and for some intense emotional experience, with reports of what happens at these school events, with vocal and obnoxious shouting and ovations. If you believe the speech was anything other than a political statement, and that the response was anything other than an insult towards those who respect the Constitution, then I’ve got some ocean front property in Kansas that might interest you.

          • Malby

            And neither would the law of the land, apparently. Wonder where he’s going to college? ‘Cause I foresee some problems unless he majors in animal husbandry.

          • Andy Anderson

            He’s not talking about that individual, he’s talking about the others who were yelling and holding signs and standing up making sure they’re not the first to stop applauding.

            Yet you ignore this and pretend he’s talking about the student body president’s actions.

            You’re being dishonest here – why should we take you seriously? Further, why should I believe you’re on the side of the supposed source of all morality when you behave thus?

      • sheng

        Funny, your own reinterpretation of the verse is exactly why the christians at this school was so disrespectful to all the other nonchristians.

      • Charles Honeycutt

        The first half of the quoted passage can be taken as metaphor. The second half CANNOT. I’m going to remind you once again that your reading comprehension is miserable and you are a documented liar on this blog.

        • Rwlawoffice

          You are mistaken. Show me where I have lied and I will respond.

          • Baby_Raptor

            Every time you lie, you get called on it. And most of the time, you either start whining about “hating Atheists” or you just ignore it.

            You rarely actually address it.

            There’s a reason you have a reputation around here as a lying piece of shit. And it’s not going to mystically go away simply because you pretend to be ignorant of your own actions so as to make yourself look better.

            • rwlawoffice

              Didn’t think you had an example. But if you can think of one I will respond to it.

        • Miss_Beara

          Don’t you know that the passage from Matthew is one of many that Christians don’t like to take literally or twist it around to suit their own needs? When it says “go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” somehow means “go out of your room and pray everywhere, even when unconstitutional!”

      • http://benny-cemoli.myopenid.com/ Benny Cemoli

        And thank you for using the oldest trick in the Christian playbook when you want to explain away the embarrassing passages contained in your holy book. Especially the ones that some Christians violate on an almost daily basis. Just claim they don’t really mean what a plain reading says they mean while trying to attribute a different meaning altogether on the passages in question.

        Benny

        • Rwlawoffice

          It is a correct interpretation. The fact that you don’t think it fits with the atheist attempt to silence Christians doesn’t change that.

          • Willy Occam

            *sigh*….

          • TCC

            There’s a great example of a lie. Would you like to respond to it now?

            • rwlawoffice

              Do you even know the definition of a lie? But I will respond to you and Benny. There is a correct way to interpret the Bible. It is to use hermeneutic techniques. This way you conduct an exegesis of the passage, which is to draw out its meaning instead of putting in the meaning that you want. SO it is not just my interpretation, it is the correct one.

              If you don’t believe me, see the attached link:

              http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?b=40&c=6&com=mhc

              • C Peterson

                Anybody who believes there is any one “correct” meaning to any passage in the Bible is deeply deluded.

              • Darrell Ross

                Why would you trust current interpretations of verses in the bible? Why not trust interpretations from 100 years ago? How about 1000 years ago?

                Have you not watched theologians defend slavery? Defend abortion before (pre 1980s) before using the bible to attack abortion (post 1980s)? Defend their anti-gay bigotry?

                It’s all complete and utter nonsense. The bible is a smoke-screen which the bulk of the sheep take hook, line, and sinker.

                I find the quote in question entertaining but there are more that are far harder for you to squirm out of with your silly rose-covered-glasses:

                – Rape victims must marry their rapists.
                – Parents can sell their children into slavery.
                – Women are not supposed to teach the bible.

                Please finish reinterpreting these for us and then we’ll continue with thousands more.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I trust interpretations using the proper hermeneutics. The age of that interpretation is irrelevant. Most of the time you see interpretations that are trying to keep up with the culture such as those that try to justify same sex marriage, hermeneutics is ignored and the interpretations are simply wrong. And believe it or not there are correct and wrong interpretations.

                • allein

                  How does one decide what is “proper hermeneutics”?
                  .
                  Why can’t an omnicient, omnipotent god just say what he means, or send us an update, rather than require imperfect people to “interpret” a book that consists of copies of copies of translations of translations, which was cobbled together from documents written in ancient languges that no one speaks anymore?

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Proper hermeneutics are tools. Like interpreting statutes for example. God did say what he meant. That is what is written. These tools make sure we don’t change that. The times we get it wrong us our imperfections, not His.

                • Andy Anderson

                  If you write a book to convey a specific message and after a couple thousand years of reading it few people can agree on what the message is, you’re a crappy author.

                  Writing such a book is not consistent with an all-knowing deity, but it’s perfectly consistent with human behavior.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  If you’re inspiring a book, but can’t get the people making manual copies to be accurate, but can get the committee that merges all the disparate copies back into something to be correct, then you’re a crappy inspirer.

                • Andrew

                  He does ‘send us updates’. It’s called the Holy Spirit. We have something called ‘discernment’.

                • allein

                  Are you trying to prove Christianity by resurrecting dead threads?
                  .
                  So this all powerful god’s way of “updating” us is an invisible “spirit.” That’s helpful.

                • Andrew

                  You’ve never felt the Holy Spirit before though. So invisible doesn’t imply uselessness – it’s not physical.

                  And if I hadn’t met God I’d be having fun chasing ass and playing video games, not talking to you guys about some stupid and useless ‘religion’. But it’s not a religion. And he’s changed me,so here I am, defending Him.

                • allein

                  Well when God sees fit to introduce himself, maybe I’ll change my mind.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I’ll admit I’ve never felt the Holy Spirit. But I know plenty of atheists who have. In fact, Dan Barker claims to be able to pull up the feeling at will.

                  But here I am, an atheist, not chasing ass and only playing video games in moderation with my son.

                  I’m happy that for whatever reason you’re living a life you find more fulfilling than your previous one. But your arguments in defense of Him are hardly convincing.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Although-

                  When I was a practicing pagan I did once channel Mars. You know, because I’m a double-Aries in ‘western’ astrology and a Yang-fire-horse in Chinese.

                  It was awesome. I know you can’t understand it, but I did.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  ‘discernment’? Like, “I know the truth based on how it makes me feel, and how it makes me feel overrides how it makes you feel”?

                • Andrew

                  Discernment isn’t a feeling. I know you can’t understand it, but the only way to see through God’s eyes is to accept Him. It’s not so much about the Bible or church or people who tell you about it – it’s a relationship that opens your eyes.
                  This stuff is real, guys.
                  Trust me, I’ve been a skeptic all my life, but I’ve also never been a quitter. I figured that if I might go to hell if I don’t know this God, then He would reveal Himself to me.
                  So I asked for what He wanted show me, and I tested His existence again and again. Once you ask for a relationship from the bottom of your heart, He’ll never fully leave you alone. It was like something kept poking me from a distance to get my attention. You don’t notice it until you accept His truth over your own.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I know you can’t understand it, but the only way to see through God’s eyes is to accept Him.

                  Same difference. Forget about me. Other religious people describe the same thing you do, but about a different God. And they, like you, just know it’s real. But they also know you just can’t understand.

                  Let me know when y’all work out which god is real.

                • Andrew

                  I would laugh if this wasn’t truly sad.

                • baal

                  The problem with hermeneutics is that you can’t use them to count to three.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                I think you don’t want the bible to support slavery so you bend yourself into knots to justify what the bible does say on the subject of indentured labor, inheriting people as property, etc.

                You think I want the bible to support slavery so you think I read what I want into it rather than use the ‘correct’ way.

                FWIW, I didn’t first read the bible with an agenda. That was the days before the Internet was readily available, and well before the web. And I was shocked to see animal sacrifice actually listed as something people should do at some time in our past.

                And I’m not the only atheist in that boat. There are a number of atheists who started as devout believers, even clergy, and only left their faith with great pain. Any of them would have loved to stay where they were, defending the bible as you do.

                Some simple evidence (although not proof) that you’re not reading the bible correctly is: is there ANY part of it that doesn’t have the meaning YOU, rwlawoffice, want? If not, then I’d be highly skeptical that you’re doing exactly what you claim we’re doing.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I am in seminary and have been taught the principles of correct Biblical interpretation. The correct way to interpret passages is to conduct exegesis. That is to pull out of the passage what is there, not to include or put in what you want it to say. There are passages in the bible that I wish said something different than they do, but I have to take them as they mean. For example, some of the Old Testament passages that refer to judgments that God places on certain individuals or nations are harsh. i would like to water those down, but they are what they are. In the context i understand them and can accept them but they are harsh.

                • baal

                  Genocide is not merely harsh. Taking young girls as spoils of war is not merely harsh.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I can’t recall that we actually disagree over specific meanings. It seems to me it more comes down to my conclusion that the Biblical Deity is often a petty inconsistent malevolent bully. I’m not sure if your response is more along the lines of “no He’s not” or “ya, but that’s ok because He’s God”.

                  Neither response does much to convince me that even if He existed, I should cower before Him. Better to wait until He’s drunk, and leave home forever.

              • TCC

                I actually meant that you were lying about atheists bringing up that verse to silence Christians. Also, you’re wrong on the “correct way to interpret the Bible” part as well.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Of course that is the reason. It is the atheist attempting to use the Christians faith to tell himif he was following Jesus he would keep his prayers to himself and thus quiet orbit I public. Thus,silenced in the public sphere.

                • Alden Smith

                  I agree with you i have always find it funny that atheists are trying to tell us how we should follow God and his son and especially when try to tell us what are believes are compatible with

                • TCC

                  I see assertions but not much evidence. Why am I not surprised? (That’s a rhetorical question, of course.)

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              The problem is, he actually believes what he says.

          • http://benny-cemoli.myopenid.com/ Benny Cemoli

            No, it’s your interpretation of those passages and nothing more.

            And thanks for not understanding a single word that I wrote in my previous comment.

            Benny

          • Malby

            Who is trying to silence you? If you want prayer to your god in your school, go start one. Leave my tax dollars out of it.

            • allein

              He thinks criticism = silencing.

              • Andrew

                That’s exactly what was happening, allein. They were going to silence Christian prayer in the school. Or did you not see that?

          • baal

            Care to give us your view on how the Christians in the OP were be decent honest christians or if they were closer to the bully / we are the show / love us or get out message that we atheists see in the OP?

      • Baby_Raptor

        The bible doesn’t say what it plainly says because that would go against your personal opinions….But of course it’s easy to read and literal.

        How convenient.

      • Aster Nova

        This was spiteful. So does it support your definition of what the bible says?

      • Darrell Ross

        The bible teaches nothing by itself. If you were to read it without a guide who interpreted it for you, it would teach you about rape, genocide, and barbarism. It would teach each person a different message… oh wait… it does teach each person a different message.

        BTW – you are regurgitating thoroughly debunked sentiment.

        You have a special connection to a god and yours is right because you believe some 2000 year old book says so but doesn’t exactly say so – it says it only sort of so that only those who interpret it correctly get the message. What a dumb god! Seriously – what a terrible communicator. No wonder he needs worshiped.

      • Malby

        NOT “at all times” and “in all places.” Not in a tax-supported high school, for example.

        Wish these folk could quote the Constitution as well as they can the Bible.

      • Mellow

        There is a difference between a sincere prayer to God brought on by circumstance and a bottled or canned one that is used to incite others for political gain. I call B.S.

    • Andrew

      Matthew 18:19-20

      19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

      You don’t know anything you think you know.

      Because you don’t understand it.

      And this country was founded on the principles of fact. Freedom is a fact, not a feeling. If you want a country based on feeling, go enjoy the last remnants of ‘fair’ socialism in China.

  • Willy Occam

    Yet another case of Good Christians showing their true colors.

    • Barry Z.

      right, by not showing respect to any other groups.

  • Baby_Raptor

    In a way, they’re really doing the country a favour when they pull stunts like this.

    Every single time the Christers make asses of themselves, yeah. Their egos are stroked, and their privilege is encouraged. But to the decent residents of the country, it’s just one more reminder that the church is, for the most part, not filled with good or kind people. It’s just one more nail in the coffin. Every time they’re asshats, they drive another money depositor away.

    And that, more than anything, is going to be their downfall.

    • JET

      Absolutely agree. The more they publicly show themselves to be dicks, the more people will realize they are being dicks. We need do nothing more than point out and give publicity to their absurdities.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      These acts may also solidify the feelings that young Atheists are having about coming out of the closet. I have also read that this type of asshattery is what motivates people to Identify themselves as Non-Religious or None.

  • A3Kr0n

    Jonathan Hardwick will make a *good* politician someday because acceptance and popularity is obviously more important to him that truth, and what it correct.

  • DougI

    Fundies have no decency or any respect for secular law. I wonder how they manage to live in society without being able to develop a rational sense of morality.

  • Wazzy

    Next time – bring on a lawsuit . . .

  • ortcutt

    Jesus saves, but Crosby scores on the rebound.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I thought it was Espisito. But I guess I also heard Gretzky. I wonder if it was ever Maurice Richard..

      • Matt

        Who wins in a hockey match between Gretzky and jesus?

        Gretzky by…

        a million.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      Jesus saves at Walmart

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

      Jesus saves and takes half damage.

      • Spazticus

        Jesus saves, and makes incremental backups.

        • ortcutt

          Jesus saves hundreds of dollars by switching to Geico.

  • Lee Miller

    And yet some people still say religion is not a bad thing . . .

  • Rwlawoffice

    So to the atheist community the only way for a student to be inclusive in the speeches they give is to not express their faith? In order that the atheist will not be offended you would limit the free speech of the Christian student who feels that on this momentous day in his life he wants to give thanks to God? ? Why is it that way? Why can’t the atheist be tolerant of the free speech rights of the Christian student? Why does the tolerance only go one way?

    As you say, the student has the legal and constitutional right to mention Jesus in his speech and even pray. The school cannot legally stop him, so you would want to stop him by saying that it just isn’t nice.

    • Space Cadet

      I had to close this thread because it froze up. Before I did that, I was spending a few minutes going through the posts by C Peterson. I was confused by the posts that seemed contradictory, a couple of which seemed to be firmly on the pro-prayer side of things. I was thoroughly confused, to say the least.

      Upon opening the thread again, those pro-prayer posts that were originally by C Peterson are now by Rwlawoffice. This was one of them.

      So, is this shenanigans by Rwlawoffice, or did Disquss stroke out for a few minutes?s

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Disqus bug. When it refreshes comments while you have the page open, it often mis-attributes comments.

        • Space Cadet

          Thanks. I had a feeling that was the case, it was just…odd.

          • allein

            I usually notice this is happening when I realize someone appears to be to talking to themselves from both sides of the fence. Especially annoying in really long threads, which tend to make my browser cranky, so when I have to reload the page I have a hard time finding where I left off (especially when I have to click “show more comments” multiple times. I really wish Disqus had a “show all comments” option so they would all load at once.

    • busterggi

      You’re correct, Christians have the right to be insensitive, smug, self-righteous dicks and they usually are.

      Congrats.

    • JET

      He states that his conscience and intellect told him that it would be wrong to be exclusionary, but his religious morality told him that it would be better to be a righteous, exclusionary prick. And you think he made the right choice?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      So to the atheist community the only way for a student to be inclusive in the speeches they give is to not express their faith?

      No.

      We’re expressing the opinion that while being legal, you’re being dicks about it. When AA or FFRF pushes for something to be done legally, they usually get a lot of hate mail over it.

      You have the right to be a dick. And we have the right to point out that in our opinion, you’re being a dick.

      Not unlike we have the right to point out an unconstitutional entanglement of church and state. And you have the right to send nasty letters saying you think we’re being dicks about it.

      • Rwlawoffice

        So a Christian saying a prayer at a graduation ceremony is a dick because an atheist doesn’t want to hear it? There is the atheist tolerance for you.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          No Ron. That’s not what I’m saying. Saying a prayer and/or thanking Jesus is not being a dick. At. All.

          I can’t speak for everyone else, but I ‘hear’ Christianity all the time and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

          Here’s a hypothetical. Government meeting is started with Christian prayer. One individual complains, lawyers are consulted, and the prayer is stopped. When the pledge is recited everyone in the room makes an effort to say “Under God” as loudly as they can while giving the one individual dirty looks.

          I don’t know about the student in this case. I haven’t even watched the video here yet. But is sounds like there was a lot of dirty looks going around. It seems to me that Jesus wouldn’t be very fond of giving people dirty looks, but you’ve disagreed with my biblical reading before, so IDK.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Having finally watched the video, the prayer wasn’t bad. I’d prefer to have people just thank their deity and not go into a full prayer about it, but meh, ok.

            I liked that he invited others to join him, but didn’t push it. I didn’t like that he seemed to be telling all men to take off their hats and everyone to bow their heads. I think the rules about hats are silly in general. Unless my hat is blocking your view, then what business of yours if I wear a hat or not. And obviously expecting me to bow my head while you pray is silly.

            The crowd reaction was the temper tantrum part. I hope if atheists ever did that kind of “Ha!, In your FACE!” move, I’d call them on it too.

            I’m pretty sure if the class president has been a Muslim, and had offered a prayer to Allah, we would not have been able to hear it over the audience screaming.

            The problem isn’t Christianity. The problem is being spoiled and having it their way for so long that they assume that not having it completely their way is some kind of an attack, and they throw a fit. Grow up already.

        • Baby_Raptor

          You’re kidding, right? Gay people cannot get married because some Christians find it icky. Abortion “needs to” be banned because some Christians think life starts at ejaculation. Sex education is non-existent because the Christers think sex before marriage is wrong. The list goes on…And somehow this is all “the right thing to do.”

          But an Atheist not wanting to hear a prayer is a dick move?

          You have to be breaking your brain with all this hypocrisy.

          • rwlawoffice

            No. Reading comprehension would help. The comment was that a Christian saying a prayer after an atheist said he didn’t want to hear it was called a dick. So the position of the atheist is, do what I want or you are a dick. That is the atheist version of tolerance for you.

            • TCC

              So if an atheist got up to speak at a graduation and said, “Fuck your evil, baby-killing god,” you’d refrain from criticizing that student, right?

            • allein

              The Christian saying a prayer (and asking the audience to join in) after acknowledging that he understands why non-Christians wouldn’t want to hear Christian prayers during a supposed-to-be-secular school ceremony is what makes him a dick.

            • baal

              You still seem to not be able to tell the difference between grandstanding and humility.

    • Charles Honeycutt

      Does Jesus love that you lie about issues, Robert?

      • Rwlawoffice

        Tell me where I have lied and I will respond.

        • Glasofruix

          everyfuckingwhere

          • Rwlawoffice

            Didn’t think you had an example but if you do I will respond.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      So rwlawoffice, from this and other comments, are you saying that you believe that Jesus spoke to the hearts of the christian audience and told them to stand up and cheer after that student gave his speech? I honestly doubt Jesus would have done that, I think he would have fought for fairness and equality and stood behind the minority opinion. I don’t think he would have gone out a rallied the masses to mock a minority group of people in his name.

      • Rwlawoffice

        Why do you assume that the student praying was mocking the atheists? Jesus was not about fairness or equality the way you couch it. He was about love and grace and giving glory to God. I don’t think he would care that an atheist had his feeling hurt because someone was giving thanks to God as long as it was done sincerely

        • Ricky_Drywaal

          You’re forgetting the other part about treating others as you would like to be treated. So did this student. Did you even read the part about what he said prior to his speech?

          • TCC

            ^This. If the student had decided independently of any dispute that he wanted to pray, then that wouldn’t be as bad. The fact is that Hardwick knew he was figuratively giving all of his non-believing classmates the finger by doing the prayer, and apparently, the praise of the Christians there was enough incentive to do it. That should bother you (rwlawoffice, that is), although I fear it won’t.

            • rwlawoffice

              You are assuming a fact that you don’t have- that Hardwick wasn’t going to pray before the atheists raised their complaint.

              • allein

                Actually, I assumed he was. After the atheist students brought the issue to the school’s attention, he claimed to understand and empathise, and I would hope that would indicate a willingness to change his speech to be more appropriate to the occasion and inclusive of the whole class. (Clearly, I was wrong.)

              • TCC

                That’s actually quite false. I’m going off of his statement that explicitly considers how other people might feel about it…at which point he disregards it and goes on with the prayer. If he were just entirely oblivious, then he would be misguided at worst, but not a dick.

        • baal

          “giving thanks to God as long as it was done sincerely”
          No. Sincerity is not enough. You also have to look at the consequences of your actions. This is my #1 complaint about you christian types. You cannot know right from wrong by looking in the heart of the doer.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Yes, yes. We know. The poor, persecuted Christian majority.

      First off, nobody is stopping the student from thanking god. Nobody is telling them that they cannot pray in their head, at home, at church, or anywhere else about their belief that god should get credit for their having graduated. Why does he need to pray in the middle of the ceremony? Because it isn’t about thanking god, it’s about a show of force for Christianity.

      Further, nobody is stopping the kid from saying something akin to “God gave me the strength to get through this and he deserves all the credit,” IE talking about how thankful he is in a few sentenced without praying. That way, he could still make his showy statement about god, but there wouldn’t be anything forced or uncomfortable for everyone else. Because, again, graduation ceremonies are not the only place a person can pray. He can make his grandstanding statement and then go somewhere with a bunch of other people who all believe as he does and actually want to pray and talk to god until he gets hoarse.

      The tolerance doesn’t just only go one way. It *never* goes both ways. Every time this comes up, the people in charge and the people supporting them like you always piss and moan that you have “rights,” and that we aren’t respecting those “rights.” If you want respect, you have to give it. You are not automatically afforded respect simply because you exist or simply because you have a set of beliefs.

      And, no. In some cases, the school cannot legally stop him. That’s where his sense of decency should step in and say “Hey. This is an ass thing to do. You have a million other ways you can thank god for this; pass on this one opportunity so as to be respectful of everyone else.” But that can’t happen, because Christianity is nothing if it cannot force everyone else to acknowledge it.

      • Rwlawoffice

        You don’t get to dictate the content if his speech nor can you judge his heart. The point I made was that if this was an atheist standing up there and said so etching you agreed with you would be praising him. The fact that it was a prayer, the guy is called a dick just because some atheists complained and he didn’t abide by their wishes not to pray. It is once again the one sided tolerance that is called for here.

        • TCC

          We most certainly can judge his actions based on his past statements and the context of the situation. You’re trying to make atheists look intolerant by disingenuously removing this prayer from the larger context.

          • rwlawoffice

            No, I am contending that the atheists are intolerant when they assume that he needed to agree with them and when he didn’t he is called a dick. That is the larger context. Hemant was okay with him as long as he agreed but when he didn’t he is called names. So I made my point- tolerance to the atheist community is to agree with them and nothing less.

            • TCC

              You keep knocking down that strawman, but it’s simply not the whole story. Hardwick is quoted above as saying:

              “I talked to them and most of them said they just didn’t feel like they should listen to a prayer at their graduation to a god they don’t believe in,” he said. “I can understand their viewpoint because if I was in their shoes, I wouldn’t want to listen to a prayer to a god I didn’t believe in. If a Muslim was saying a prayer to their god, I wouldn’t want to sit there and listen to that, so I understand their viewpoint.”

              This statement shows empathy and consideration, and it would be reasonable to assume that this line of reasoning would cause him not to go through with the prayer. When he does, it is fair to say that he has ignored his initial compassionate consideration, at which point he can rightly be called a dick. This is not a matter of “Agree with us or you’re a dick” as you incessantly claim.

    • No More Mythology

      They have a gazillion times a day to “express their faith”, including those obscene, inexplicably tax-exempt buildings called churches. USE THEM, NOT PUBLIC SPACE. Atheists pay for the school space, too, and these bigoted “christians” don’t want to respect that it is a SHARED space. You don’t see atheists going into your churches to spread the word that your ignorant, bronze-aged mythology is bullshit, so please keep your idiot mythology out of the public spaces we ALL must share.

      And yes, I called your religion “idiot mythology”. Don’t like it? Tough shit, this is a public forum, not your non-tax-paying church.

      • rwlawoffice

        Call my faith whatever you want. It simply proves my point. As for a prayer by a student at his graduation, that is called free speech. Its a constitutional right. You may not like it but an atheist would have just as much right to say the opposite during his speech in his graduation. Unlike you, I would not ask him not to or call him a name if he did.

        • No More Mythology

          “Free speech” has limitations, just like all rights have limitations. In this case, the limitation is the marginalization of the disagreeing minority and the foisting of utter nonsense upon people who, if not a captive audience, would not be participants. Ergo, your point is NOT proven and no, I didn’t call you a name; I labeled your religion for what it is. That’s not calling you anything, it is calling your religion something. There is a world of difference.

          • rwlawoffice

            I didn’t say you called me a name. I said the student has been called names. There is no limitation on free speech do to the paranoid thought that a prayer marginalizes those that aren’t believers. Frankly, if a Hindu student or a Muslim student prayed to his God in his speech I would support him for it. I would not feel marginalized or offended that I had to hear his expression of his faith.

            • No More Mythology

              You miss the issue: the school is a STATE institution, and therefore subject to the separation of church and state, which Thomas Jefferson explained repeatedly and at great lengths yet religious people insist upon ignoring. School is not the place to pray for all to hear; church is.

        • TCC

          Unlike you, I would not ask him not to or call him a name if he did.

          Contrary to your sanctimonious tone, this doesn’t make you a better person for it. People are entitled to criticize things they don’t like; that’s also free speech.

        • baal

          No, as an attorney you know that religion is handled under the establishment clause (and related law) and not under free speech.

        • Matt

          My god this is such a lie. If this were a muslim who asked any to join in while he prayed to Allah, or an atheist who said “we all got here as a result of our hard work, and not because of some make-believe man in the sky who doesn’t exist,” you would be chomping at the bit to string him up.

        • No More Mythology

          No, it doesn’t prove your point. And while free speech is a constitutional right, it has limits, including the separation of church and state that NO ONE seems to respect anymore. Thomas Jefferson was adamant about this “wall of separation between church and state” and wrote frequently about it. The SCHOOL is a PUBLIC space, and thus this wall of separation applied. What part of that do you not understand?

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      The boy scouts of america is letting gay scouts in. You lose.

    • TCC

      It is possible to express one’s faith without excluding individuals. The salutatorian at the high school I teach at explicitly thanked God in her graduation speech, and that is both legal and generally unobjectionable. If she had said, “I think believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is the only way to live a truly fulfilled life,” that would likely be a sincerely held belief but also an insulting statement to make on a day which belongs to other people, too.

      Frankly, I don’t think you understand this whole free speech thing. Hardwick of course had (and has) the constitutional right to say what he said, but that doesn’t make him immune from criticism. You want to shut up other people who don’t approve of what he did. That makes you the free speech villain here, not us.

      • rwlaweoffice

        I am not shutting up anyone. It was the atheist students who attempted that prior to the graduation. I am just pointing out the intolerance of the atheists who understand what the student did was legal, but because he did not agree to their demands he is called names. As my first point mentioned, the only way for a Christian to be inclusive in the eyes of atheists is to be quiet.

        • TCC

          You’re saying, “Agree with me or be called intolerant.” How is that substantively different than what you’re accusing us of?

          Edit: And that’s to say nothing of the incredibly misleading way you described this situation.

        • baal

          ” As my first point mentioned, the only way for a Christian to be inclusive in the eyes of atheists is to be quiet.”
          No. The way to be inclusive is to be inclusive. The way to get atheists to not complain is to 1) not break the law 2) not be assholes to all the non-Christians. You deny that the speaker was a dick and are ignoring (over and over) the sheer social terror of standing in the face of that christian horde (consequence of the prayer).

        • Matt

          Hey look, you want people to point out where you have lied. Here’s one. Read your post again. it is full of lies about the situation. Congrats!

    • baal

      Compare a one line, “And I thank God, my church and Jesus for helping to guide me to where I am today and onward to the future.” vs the speech above. You can tell the difference between the two right?

  • FBG

    Not much to here. A small minority tries to tell everyone else how to run their show, and they are told to stick it. Action –> Reaction. The stronger the action, the stronger the reaction will be.

    • Carmelita Spats

      For fuck’s sake…If it is a PUBLIC school it is NOT “their” show. If they want “their show”, they can have it at “THEIR TAX EXEMPT INSTITUTIONS”… Why is it that Christoholics have such difficulty in understanding private vs public entities or even Jeebus’ words about GREED, taking MORE than what belongs to you, or the warnings against hypocrisy and PRAYING in public? Don’t they have a prayer closet where they can stuff their paunchy hypocrisy? http://biblehub.com/matthew/6-6.htm

      • FBG

        The majority of people want the graduation to be run one way, a tiny minority want another way. Who’s going to win? Who’s paying most of the tax bill here? Minorities don’t get to run the show; they never have and they never will. If they try to bring outsiders in to change things, the majority will simply regroup, find that loophole, and express their majority culture. This is not really a Christian phenomenon; it’s a human one – humans everywhere resent it when outsiders tell them what to do. They did not break the law.

        • allein

          The atheists that go to the school are not “outsiders.” They are members of the community just like every other kid at that school. When the school promotes prayer, it is unconstitutional, whether the majority wants it or not.
          .
          And no one is saying the student broke the law in his speech; he’s just a hypocrite based on his earlier statement about understanding why non-Christians wouldn’t want to have to hear prayers to someone else’s god, then making a point of making the whole audience sit through a prayer to his god.

          • FBG

            The outsiders are the FFRF, the courts, the threat of legal trouble if they don’t do things a certain way.

            • allein

              None of whom would be involved if members of the community hadn’t seen that violations were happening and called them for help.
              .
              FFRF has members all over the country. They aren’t just some “Wisconsin group” (as the news people like to say) inserting themselves into things for the hell of it.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Like the NRA or Liberty Institute?

          • Brian Westley

            FBG just wants them to be outsiders.

        • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

          Minorities don’t get to run the show; they never have and they never will.
          Majority: British Empire + Royalists + East Indian Trading Co.
          Minority: Representatives of the Thirteen Colonies
          Winners: Colonies FTW!
          other notable minorities that have/had significant political and economic power
          American Jews
          Irish and Italians 19th century New York
          Serbs
          Alawite Muslims in Syria
          Normans (of england)
          South African Apartheid (Afrikaners)

        • baal

          FBG, you really do not want the biggest tax bill setting the rules. please google “Cuyahoga river fire” or “love canal” or “utah”.

    • roz77

      Majority rule doesn’t dictate what is constitutional and what is not.

      • FBG

        What they did was not unconstitutional. They followed the law, they just didn’t do in the way the atheists would have preferred..

        • roz77

          Sigh…I realize what the student did was not unconstitutional. You said that a minority was trying to tell everyone how to run the show. This was the case when the atheists told the school that the school can’t be involved in a prayer. The small minority was right. A majority isn’t allowed to violate the constitution just because they are a majority.

          No atheists at this high school tried to say that the individual student speaker wasn’t allowed to say a prayer during his speech. This entire blog post was about how the minority told the majority how to “run the show” (if you really want to call it that) when the minority was allowed to do that, and didn’t try to dictate what they weren’t legally allowed to dictate.

          “they just didn’t do in the way the atheists would have preferred..”

          So? Saying that what the Christians did in that town was smug and self-serving is hardly telling them how to run the show.

          • FBG

            I don’t think it was smug; smug implies you have full control over the situation. These people obviously feel pretty defensive. This is why I think Christians should abandon the public schools in toto. Like the Boy Scouts recent recent decision, it’s really lose-lose, even though it seems like one side loses more. Lots of people, even Christians, would have preferred to sit through a quick and simple prayer to sitting through this display. Honestly, I would have felt uncomfortable at this ungracious response.

            • roz77

              “Lots of people, even Christians, would have preferred to sit through a quick and simple prayer to sitting through this display.”

              I agree with you on that point. I think the real unfortunate thing in this situation is not that the class president decided to say a prayer, it’s the audience’s over the top ovation that they gave him.

            • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

              Re: “These people obviously feel pretty defensive.”

              Why should they? I ask this in all seriousness. Why should any Christian in the US feel “defensive”? What rational reason have they to think they’re about to be destroyed for being Christians?

              The fact is, they aren’t. They’re in the majority. They get their way when they want to (as they did in this case). They aren’t being persecuted. No one has padlocked or bulldozed their churches. No one has confiscated their Bibles or crucifixes or whatever. No one has arrested their clergy.

              All that’s happening is, they’re being reminded not to use the state (which includes public schools) to impose their dour religionism on other people. That’s it. They may feel this is a kind of persecution, but that feeling — no matter how strong it may be — doesn’t mean it’s true.

              Remember … as the saying goes, “feelings are real, but they are not facts.” The feeling of being persecuted is NOT evidence of true persecution.

            • baal

              I thank you for recognizing that the response is ungracious and hence my up vote.

        • McAtheist

          Slave owners used to ‘follow the law’, what they did was not unconstitutional, they just didn’t do it the way abolitionists would have preferred.

    • Charles Honeycutt

      It’s very sad that your sense of ethics is so vile and corrupt that you happily support ruining the graduation of high school students for the offense of insisting that YOU be protected by the law.

    • onamission5

      It’s not “their” or “everyone else’s” show. It’s the minority group’s show, too, and they ought to be a welcomed, respected part of it.
      Might doesn’t make right any more than the majority rules. The majority can be ethically wrong quite often and in this case they were.

    • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

      Re: “A small minority tries to tell everyone else how to run their show, and they are told to stick it.”

      Yes, because that “small minority” has this little thing called “the Law of the Land” on its side. In the face of that, the majority should swallow hard, grow up, and suck it up … instead of raging and fuming and carrying on like idiots.

      Being in the majority does not make one right. Mature adults understand this and can accept it, even if they may not like it. Graduations are a time when kids become adults and need to act mature … again, even if they don’t like it.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      The boy scouts of america is letting gay scouts in. You lose.

  • Regina Carol Moore

    “Public school graduations are supposed to honor all the students, celebrate what they have accomplished, and wish them well as they move on to the next phase of their lives.” Why can’t we do this? Even as Americans, we can’t decide to be the front-runners for science or humanity or anything else, because too many of us have our heads up our asses concerning religious rights and non-religious rights. This country makes me weep.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I think I’m going to stick out as the very small minority who thinks letting them yell and scream, legally, is important. And I just wish there was a way to make ‘them’ realize that this isn’t them winning. This is them following the law. Obnoxiously so, but following the law. As much as I disagree with the obnoxious manner in which they are expressing their faith, so long as the school takes no part in it, I support their obnoxious display of faith.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Oh completely agreed. No one is saying that what they did isn’t legal. It’s just a total jerk move.

      In other words, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. They shouldn’t have done this, not because it’s illegal (it’s clearly legal), but because it’s an unethical thing to do. There’s also nothing wrong with Hemant pointing out this legal-but-awful move on the part of people who consistently trumpet their high moral values if asked.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Upon further reflection, my go-to analogy is a small spoiled child who has been told they can’t have the toy they want. So they throw a temper tantrum. I roll my eyes, but know that the best response is to give it as little attention as possible, and instead focus on positive reinforcement.

      Maybe the FFRF should have a press release listing all the times in the last month that Christians, while in their capacity as citizens, not agents of the government, thank Jesus or pray in such a way that doesn’t point fingers at those who don’t want to.

      And maybe include the Christians who support non-Christians when they give a non-Christian invocation or prayer when it’s their turn.

      Like the House Speaker here:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq3ElGdC2fU

      or House Speaker House Speaker Andy Tobin here

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/05/22/in-response-to-rep-juan-mendezs-godless-invocation-in-arizona-his-colleague-delivered-a-second-christian-prayer-today/

  • SorryBadBeat

    Anyone who believe that a man named Jesus was the son of an omnipotent being, of which there is not evidence for, working models, theories, etc…Isn’t using their brain to it’s full potential. Prayer in school is ridiculous. Why were they praying to Jesus and not Thor, Muhammad, Krishna, Zeus, Ra, etc. It’s silly but it’s also scary. I can’t help but think of all the headlines I see about there being plenty of work but the labor pool is under qualified. This something that has been about fifty years in the making. The United States hasn’t been truly secular for about fifty years and it seems like it’s now being run by religious, anti-science-nutters. Sad, America was once an admired country; oh well. I hope everyone likes Chinese food.

    • McAtheist

      Didn’t understand the reference to Chinese food, can you help me?

      • allein

        I believe the implication is that we are falling behind and China is going to take over the world soon enough.

  • Tak

    I would think his parents and church community probably had a lot to do with his speech. I’d like to think someone who made the comments he did beforehand woudn’t be so callous without outside influence.

    • JET

      You’re probably right. And once his dickiness goes viral on the internet, he’ll have no one to blame but those who incited him to dickiness. If he manages to go off to a decent college, his peers will be merciless.

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

    It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless
    minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.
    Samuel Adams

    The minority is sometimes right; the majority always wrong.
    George Bernard Shaw

    Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Every religious group, while perhaps a majority somewhere, is also inevitably
    a minority somewhere else. Thus, religious organizations should and do
    show tolerance toward members of other religious denominations.
    Russell M. Nelson

    The intelligent minority of this world will mark 1 January 2001 as the real beginning of the 21st century and the Third Millennium.
    Arthur C. Clarke

    • Alden Smith

      Rev Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Anna

    Sickening. Sometimes I fear that the South is a lost cause. I don’t think I’d last two minutes in one of those places.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Once more, as is all too common, a graduation ceremony brings out the raging fascist in a lot of Christians. They’re living down to all our expectations of them. The “religion of love” once again shows its true colors.

  • Mellow

    I don’t understand……….why didn’t they allow every faith to pray during their graduation publicly? That would seem to me fair. But every time one of these things come up at a school it’s all about Christianity. So who is really separating church from state? So why don’t other students from other religion’s stand up? Because I am sure they have principles and morals that frown upon making an ass of yourself and bring unwanted negative attention to their beliefs.

    • Spazticus

      They don’t care if the attention is negative, because they’re hypocrites at the least, and in many cases theocrats at worst. As long as it’s their religion being the one in power, of course, they don’t see any issue with imposing their will on the minority.

    • onamission5

      They do it so that they can cry persecution when someone who isn’t a Christian dares complain about Christian bullying. Whatever keeps the spotlight on their persecution complex and off of their behavior or motivations.

  • megan

    im not a christian, im not an atheist. the same way atheists have the right to do what they want, so do christians. if it would have been a muslim class president or what not, and they prayed to their god, would anything have been said? i believe hardwick did what he wanted to do, and everyone should respect that. if you didn’t enjoy the prayer, dont applaud, dont listen. its that simple. theres what? like, six atheists to about 500 students? and just because those six dont want to pray, that means no one else is aloud to their beliefs. it’s bullshit. if you want respect you have to show it. thats how life works.

    • onamission5

      No one is trying to take away their beliefs. Beliefs are a personal and private thing, they cannot be forcibly inflicted nor removed.

      What is being addressed here is whether or not it is ethical for the majority to use a public function at a state institution for a platform by which to impose their religious rites and rituals upon those who do not follow the same religion.

      One last thing, aloud means “out loud.” I think you want the word allowed.

    • http://benny-cemoli.myopenid.com/ Benny Cemoli

      Oh yeah, if a Muslim had said a prayer and thanked Allah on behalf of the graduating class you would be sure something would have been said.

      The Christians in the audience wouldn’t be able to keep their mouths shut about that even if they used super glue. The accusations of persecution would be deafening. (You allowed a Muslim to thank Allah but we weren’t allowed to thank Jesus. Persecution! Persecution I say!!)

      And really, what are the chances that the students at this school would elect a Muslim class president anyway. It’s evident that they don’t fucking care who they insult in the name of Jesus so I would imagine a Muslim student (or Jewish student or Sikh student or Buddhist student or Zoroastrian student or Hindu student or Jain student or Baha’i student) would have very little chance of being elected as class president.

      Benny

    • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

      Megan, even if it had been a ratio of one atheist to one million believers, it would still have been an act of blatant disrespect on the part of the believers.

      And now that it is done, it cannot be undone. The students had an opportunity to do the right thing, and totally blew it.

      Finally, I’m simply appalled that you would even think of suggesting “Don’t applaud, don’t listen.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/lazerhaze Travis Rogers

      I say, keep your ignorant delusions about a magical being to yourself and out of all government sponsored events. Period.

      I personally am an anti-theist (I know.. too obvious) and I don’t think religious belief should be considered a freedom. I think it should be considered a mental illness usually brought about by years of childhood mental and emotional abuse via indoctrination or people have been taken advantage of at a vulnerable time in their lives. They’re fed a bunch lies based on ancient superstition and stolen myths and they’re convinced with emotional blackmail and feeding on their fear of death.

      If you must have something.. have a moment of silence and reflection for those who are willfully deluded (religious) to pray to themselves. And those who are not can reflect to themselves about whatever they like.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      let’s make a hypothetical situation where you are the 11th person in a room of 9 christians and one figure of authority.

      the figure of authority says everyone who is a christian, “raise your hands.”
      9 people raise their hands and the authority figure passes out loaded guns to them.
      the authority figure then says to the christians, “kill the person who didn’t raise her hand, because she threatens our rule.”
      the majority obeys and raises their guns…

      Megan are you going to sit there and let that happen?

      or

      Are you going to protest and argue that you are a worthy person who deserves to live?

    • http://twitter.com/peacesong464 G.

      That’s not how life works. The issue here is not “majority rules”, it’s simple separation of church and state. This was a public school. Not a Christian school and not a Muslim school and not an Atheists only school. Even that’s not the fucking point! It’s school. It’s not church and and it’s not your private home. You are not entitled to invoke prayer in a public place. Simple as that!!

  • New_Atheist

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but according to the Supreme Court, it doesn’t matter if the prayer is student-led. It is still unconstitutional:

    http://archives.cnn.com/2000/LAW/06/19/scotus.schoolprayer.01/

    • allein

      They get around that by not vetting the students’ speeches beforehand. Then they can honestly (perhaps I should put that in quotes?) say they don’t endorse anything they might say in their speeches because they don’t know what they are planning to say, and the prayer is not an official part of the ceremony. Even though in cases like this if they make a point of saying they’re not going to require approval beforehand, they are pretty obviously expecting at least some students to bring some sort of prayer into it. (The difference with the football game example in your link is that the school is providing the students the platform – the loudspeaker – specifically for the purpose of saying a prayer before the game; it’s pretty clear the school endorses what is being broadcast, even if the only people actually speaking are students.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/lazerhaze Travis Rogers

    Traditional christian’s think the 1st amendment is gives them the right to shove their willfully accepted delusion upon us all. These “christians’ at the ceremony are anti-american traitors who purposefully attempt to subjugate everything that they fear is a threat to them. They are the “christian version of the taliban. They are the closest thing America has to homegrown christian fundamentalist terrorists!

  • Aster Nova

    Spiteful prayer and bulling. Sounds like Christians. I do not understand why they could not go to their local church for this show. Oh wait, I do.

  • PlayTOE

    Each year the number of people who are not Christian gets larger.
    At some point the Christians will no longer be a majority.

    • TheG

      They don’t understand that very point: The laws that we are asking to enforced now will be the ones to protect them in 50 years. The walls they tear down today are the ones they will be desperately clawing to maintain, but they don’t care as long as they can win one more soul for Jesus.

  • MARTYMAD001

    I understand that as atheists, we need to take stands of this nature to keep church and state separate. However, this whole thing about being offended when people pray is silly. Who the fuck told you that you have a right not to get offended? Get over it! If atheists get offended about stuff like this, then we look just as childish as the Christians who scream about being persecuted (in the United States?), and Muslims who riot over cartoons. Once again: GET OVER IT.

    • tasteless chap

      I agree that in general we (all cultural subgroups [gay, women, men, blacks, whites, etc.]) need to develop thicker skin when it comes to being “offended” by something someone not in that particular subgroup said.

      I think this is about more than being offended. It is more about fighting the notion that it is OK for Christianity to take the pole position in our culture, everyone be damned! We, as a nation of people and laws, should have out Constitution in that position, not anyone’s particular flavor of dogma.

    • Craig

      > Who the fuck told you that you have a right not to get offended?

      Who the fuck is saying that?

    • sunburned

      >Who the fuck told you that you have a right not to get offended?

      You? Seriously, that is what the “Get Over it” comment amounts to. Guess what? I have a right to be offended, and to say so. Just as others have a right to ignore it.

  • Mike Zysman

    You should make some “Matthew 6:5″ signs for people in the audience to hold up for occasions like this!

    • Matt

      Lol, I would love to see somebody do this and pass it out to everybody entering and tell them to hold it up during the prayer. My guess is a large majority of the christians in the audience would do so since they never actually read or understand their own bibles.

  • Jess

    The high school here is holding “vespers” for graduating seniors Wednesday night. I had to google the word to be sure it was what I thought it was. It isn’t an optional thing. All seniors are required to attend. This is a public school.
    I so need to move.

  • Jacqui

    Typical. Freedom of speech, unless it’s against what a Liberal thinks, then it’s wrong.

  • Gus Snarp

    I like that he says people are free to join him if they wish, as if that’s some kind of statement of how free everyone is and people of other or no faith shouldn’t feel insulted. Then he issues an order (not that he has any power to give orders, other than the fear of not following the crowd) for men to remove their hats and bow their heads. He leaves no room for the choice not to participate on that. Which is part of the problem. Why should a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, or an atheist be compelled by anyone to show respect to a god they don’t believe in, or who is frankly antithetical to their beliefs, in the manner that that god’s follower prescribe? I’d defiantly keep my hat on and stare the speaker right in the eyes, but sadly no one would notice.

    Sadly, for many students there, that kind of defiance might not be a viable option, since they have to live among those people later as well.

    It’s interesting, because I wouldn’t mind a speaker who felt the need to thank god in their speech in a natural way, but I honestly think it’s still illegal for the chosen speaker to use the school’s microphone, auditorium, and lectern in this manner. A blatantly sectarian prayer has still been offered and the audience enjoined to participate by the school’s official speaker. Let the valedictorian say they thank god for their success or say a few words of prayer, but for the speaker to open with a plea for others to join him in prayer to Jesus, and a command to show respect to that prayer? I think there’s still a case that that is unconstitutional.

  • baal

    Onward Christian bullies marching as to war…


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