Public school cancels graduation rather than remove a Christian prayer. (Email address included)

What is up with schools in Arkansas not getting separation of church and state lately?  The Riverside School district has had a prayer at their 6th grade graduation as a matter of tradition.  This year one of the atheists spoke up about how it made them uncomfortable and how it was against the law.  The ACLU sent the school a letter confirming this.

But rather than remove the illegal part of the graduation, the school canceled the whole graduation, which has the town furious with the atheist student…but not the school district that was breaking the law.  This is the tactic of the fundamentalist, which we saw on full display in Rhode Island: intimidation.  Not because they are right or good, but because they intimidate.

And you can imagine the kind of quotes coming from the townsfolk:

“As Christians and a mainly Christian town I think, there were a lot of people hurt that our rights were taken away,” Adams said.

“My daughter graduated last year from 6th grade and my son is graduating this year from 6th grade, and we had a pastor open our ceremony and my daughter actually closed the ceremony in prayer,” she said.  The school district decided to cancel the graduation ceremony after one parent came out and protested the prayer.

“A lot of people were upset, a lot of the moms were really upset and I was very upset,” Adams said.

“We just went to take a stand for God because we felt like out rights were taken away.”

So much fail in so few sentences.

How were your rights taken away?  You don’t have the right to have a government institution proselytize to a captive audience.  It turns out that’s illegal, so it doesn’t even approach being your right.

And if you’re upset about graduation being canceled, blame the school.  They didn’t have to do that.  The school only had to remove the prayer, but decided to pitch a fit at being told they can’t break the law instead.

“I realize they have rights too but you can’t take rights away from one group and give it to another,” she said.

First, you didn’t have any rights taken away.  Second, no special rights were afforded to the atheist student.  If the school brought me in to speak at the graduation and I said “Congrats to these students, whose hard work in the absence of any assistance from deities, since none exist to assist them, has really paid off”, then the school would be breaking the law by having me speak.  The actual right at play here is the right of every citizen to have a government that does not encourage or prohibit any particular religion.  Neutrality from a public school is your children’s right, and thanks to the ACLU and the brave atheist student that right remains preserved.

Adams said she believes the school district made the best decision they could at the time so the parents decided to take action.   “A lot of the parents, the Christian parents decided to get together and do it at the church,” she said. Adams said some of the parents are meeting Thursday to discuss which church will host the ceremony and to re-plan graduation.

The balls on this woman…

Really?  The school district made the best decision available?  If there can’t be a school-endorsed Christian prayer, then they might as well not even have a graduation?  That tells me you think the prayer is the important thing, and that the graduation means little more than its role for getting all the kids together to hear that prayer.  If you think the best decision was not having the graduation without the prayer, then you can’t say that you think the graduation itself is important.

Unless, of course, you’re an oblivious hypocrite.

“We are including everyone, everyone is invited, we want everyone to come and be a part of it,” she said.  Adams said it’s important to have a ceremony to recognize students for their achievements.

“We’re not trying to be pushy or ugly to anybody, we just want them to know there is a God who loves them,” she said.

I’m glad irony isn’t toxic or we’d all be dead after that bit.  The reason public institutions must remain religion-neutral (no Christian prayers, and no telling people god doesn’t exist) is for a large part to make sure that everybody is included and can be a part of it.  I’m sure Mrs. Adams means it when she says everybody is welcome in her church.  What if the graduation were to be held at Skepticon, and they said all the Christians were welcome?  Hey, we’re not being pushy, we just want them to know their successes are their own, since god didn’t help.

Listen lady, if you’re not trying to be pushy, you’re doing a shitty job of it.  Here’s a thought: you can have a graduation, which includes everyone, where there’s a ceremony to recognize the students for their achievements…but without breaking the law.  If all that other stuff is what’s important, then your behavior makes absolutely zero sense.  Of course, it’s not important to you.  What’s important is making sure they hear about Jesus, which is exactly what it means to be pushy.  So either you’re an idiot or a liar.

The article says that superintendent Tommy Knight was “advised not to comment at this time.”  Well, Tommy Knight, at tommy.knight@riverside.k12.ar.us, I’m sure as hell going to comment.

Mr. Knight,

I read the article about your reaction to the ACLU’s letter about the graduation prayer.  Surely you realize that a sectarian prayer to a captive audience at a public school is flagrantly illegal (if you don’t, it may be time to find another job).  Upon being called on it, rather than apologizing and simply not breaking the law any more, you decided to nix the entire graduation – as if the graduation ceremony and recognizing the accomplishments of the Riverside students is an empty enterprise if those students are not made to hear a Christian prayer.  You seem to have totally missed the point of a graduation, which is pretty damning since you are the superintendent of the school district.

What the situation looks like to myself and to the eyes of the rest of the nation outside your little town in Arkansas is that you have done this to sic the believers of your small town on the student who asked you to not break the law.  It looks like you are attempting to punish the student who merely insisted that all students at your school be represented equally.

Maybe you disagree, and you think that canceling the entire graduation instead of removing the one illegal part of it was the best way to convey your pride at what your students have done.  If so, then you have nothing to worry about.  But this story is starting to get eyes on it across the entire country.  Your decision will not be one made in secret.  Time to decide how you want yourself and your school district to look when they are judged by the rest of the nation.

JT

Asshole.

I wonder if by tomorrow morning his inbox will be full of similar letters.  Perhaps you all could help him out with that.

  • Glodson

    And this is directly in the playbook. Blame the atheist for calling out us breaking the law, and then bully them into submission all the while crying about persecution.

    Fuck. Another letter which will be hard for me to write as I feel the unapologetic observation of reality would not further my cause. In that calling this person a privileged idiot with his head up his ass and the understanding of a sociopath wouldn’t help.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.nebo Mark Nebo

    Emailed him. Thanks JT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mlmccurley78 Melissa McCurley

    Ugh

    ‘If I cannot break the law & shove my beliefs down everyone’s throats, all the while excluding everyone who is different than me, I’m taking my ball & going home. Wahhhh!’

    Assholes.

  • http://twitter.com/TechnoSpice Lucinda Poe

    Dear Mr. Knight,

    I
    recently had my attention drawn to a news article that featured a story
    where you cancelled a 6th grade graduation because someone pointed out
    that the prayer was explicitly against the law. I have to say, I haven’t
    seen a measure of such bad class and public manipulation in some time.

    Really? You really thought it was the best decision to cancel
    the graduation than simply leave out the prayer? The fact that that was
    your logical conclusion about what was best shows that either your logic
    capabilities are completely borked, or that you are flat out lying
    about your priorities surrounding graduation. Let me explain how, just
    in case you really don’t see it.

    If graduation is about acknowledging the accomplishments of the students;
    then a prayer is unnecessary because it is not required to acknowledge the accomplishment and development of students.

    If the graduation has no merit if the prayer is not performed;

    then the graduation is not about acknowledging the accomplishments
    of students. Logically, the conclusion to this statement is, “it is
    about the captive audience to the prayer”. It’s not about kids
    graduating. It’s about indoctrinating them to Jesus.

    The fact that you publicized that graduation was cancelled due
    to an parental complaint is pretty obviously an attempt to redirect
    blame on the student of the family in question. For shame, for a grown
    person to do something this low. Whatever you are learning from the
    Bible, it clearly lacks something in the love for your fellow man
    department. You are a terrible representative to your faith to those who
    already have grave doubts about its worth. You are your own worst
    enemy.

    These kids already have church to learn in and have prayers. They do not need it at school, too. Make school a place where everyone
    is welcome and made to feel comfortable. That means not catering to a
    specific race, religion, or gender. Education belongs to everyone. If
    you feel uncomfortable with that, you should resign, because you are in
    the wrong line of work.

    Our community is global these days. The internet has done away with
    the days where you could do things and only the locals hear about it. Be
    aware that you will be judged, and there are a lot more people like me
    who require very little effort to deduct how poorly handled this
    situation was, and what your true aim appears to be in the situation. If
    you are as humble as the Bible teaches you to be, you’ll reflect, admit
    to your failings, and try to be a better person from it. Not an easy thing
    to do, but nothing worth doing has ever been easy. I wish you good
    luck.

    Sincerely,
    Lucinda Poe

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=844664379 Peggy Norman

    What specious arguments! 1). What part of illegal don’t you understand? 2) if you are trying to punish the student who insisted you obey the law, were you trying to shame him? To have someone with your position and responsibility shame a child, in public yet, is shameful, immature and irresponsible.. 3) By canceling the prom, you opened this situation up to the school and the community in a way that could further shame this boy and subject him to the anger of the community and students, and likely the bullying of some students toward him. The issue should be about the school, under your “leadership”, has broken the law and you are too cowardly to admit your poor judgment. So you are trying to cover that fact by redirect the issue to the boy who had the audacity to call you and the school out for your wrongdoing. What a wonderful lesson to teach those kids: it is alright to break the law if you don’t agree with it, and if you make a stand you will be shamed and ostracized. Is this how you teach civics in your school? 4). As to the mother who apparently has her priorities skewed by putting the celebration of the achievements of the students second to letting them know that God loves them: if your children don’t know that God loves them by 6th grade, then you and your church have done a poor job in educating them.

  • http://twitter.com/IvyShoots Ivy Shoots

    My parents were poor but they sent me to parochial school because they wanted me to have a religious education in keeping with their beliefs. These parents need to stop expecting public school to cater to their personal choices; if they feel a need to mix religion into school functions, they must either home-school or find a religious school that shares their “values” — and PAY for it like my parents did, decades ago.

  • Rae

    Seems like this is as good of a place to ask as any: if you know that a school repeatedly holds a prayer during their high school graduation ceremony, but your only connection to that school is through your recent-alumni siblings, how would you go about reporting the school? Try to find someone with a current connection to the school? (Pretty impossible for me, but if there’re any readers here from Camdenton, MO, be my guest—it definitely happened in 2010 and 2012, and seemed pretty long-standing… why so many of their students matriculate to MSU befuddles me if they are so christian.)

    • Glodson

      I am not exactly sure, but I do believe that the plaintiff has to be either a student or the parent of a student. If that wasn’t the case, then groups like the ACLU could just file suit without naming a student, or family of a student.

      It comes down to having been affected by the display. Someone not party to the display cannot directly file suit. As far as I know. If that were the case, it would be easy for a group like the ACLU to file the suit as the plaintiff, without involving the non-theistic student or family. A tactic in these cases is to reveal the names of the plaintiffs to the community, which can pressure them into dropping the case.

      This does happen often in that the defense gets their names released to see pressure mount in the hopes that the case gets dropped.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

        The ACLU couldn’t file a lawsuit, but they can always write a letter.

        • islandbrewer

          Actually, anyone can write a letter, Rae. The SSA, you, JT, a bunch of irritated moms, to the principal, school board, local paper. This is the appropriate first step before the lawsuit.

          Oh, and things that publicize the issue beyond that one little community might even be more effective.

      • Rae

        That makes sense. Considering my dad said “take that, ACLU!” after participating, well, it sure won’t be my family taking part. Maybe other students will get fed up and take action. I will have to live with the knowledge that I’m in a way less religious area by choice and they’ll have to make their own.

      • Kodie

        I don’t understand how this type of law is different from another kind of law. If the law is broken, if any other law is broken, it is not contingent on a personal grievance. If a cop sees a driver run a red light with nobody hurt or even inconvenienced, they would still issue a ticket. The driver will not likely get away with the excuse that no one was in the intersection anyway. Waiting for someone to be personally aggravated is how these instances get by so long. It takes a strong set to oppose the majority to get things straightened out, and few people go ahead and make their lives miserable on purpose. It would be better if the law here looked after itself and cleared up its own breaches. Does that make too much sense?

        • Glodson

          As far as I know, the court still only recognizes a compliant effected by the issue. But since we are filing suit against a state agency itself, the state has not vested interest in bringing suit.

          But I’m not sure on the details. This is just my reading of it, and I’m no expert on filings by any means.

        • islandbrewer

          Hi Kodie! I’ve been meaning to reply to this, because it really is an excellent question, but my alloted comment time has been used up responding to trolls and idiots, lately.

          The ability to appear in court can either be conferred by a legislative body, or by being a party having standing (“locus standi”), meaning that they are subject to a direct adverse effect or harm in the case.

          Laws are typically prosecuted by a lawmaking body that enacts the law, or an agency that’s appointed by that body.

          For example, the traffic law against running a red light is usually a state law. The state also empowers a district attorney’s office to prosecute the red-light runner (although it’s typically just a fine). The agency (eg. District Attorneys) that prosecute the laws, also has to pick and choose (based on resources) which ones they’ll enforce, and which ones they won’t (not fair, just a reality).

          Federal statutes (laws and regulation drafted by congress) are usually enforced by US attorneys (say, federal racketeering laws) or a special agency charged with enforcing specific laws, such as the EPA enforcing environmental laws.

          Specific parts of the US Constitution have been refined into statutes that are enforced by specific agencies. There are exceptions to the First Amendment (like defamation, which is a tort, and commercial speech, which might be enforced by the FDA (for drug claims) or the FCC (for broadcast violations).

          The Establishment Clause doesn’t really have an agency assigned to it, so plaintiffs in Establishment Clause cases are typically a party who are directly affected by, say, a school prayer. And while different government agencies can have lawsuits against each other, they don’t like to do so (ie, the Federal government doesn’t like suing a local Board of Education), unless it’s a really horribly gross violation.

          This whole thing makes the recent SCOTUS cases on Prop. 8 and DOMA so interesting, legally. These are laws (state and fed, respectively) that normally should be defended by the State of CA and the DoJ. They aren’t. The prop. 8 case is being defended by a coalition of anti-SSM folks, and the DOMA is being defended by a group of congressional Republicans (with token Democrat for “bipartisanism”!) who don’t like teh ghey. Standing makes those case really kind of unpredictable.

          Hope that helps a bit.

          • Kodie

            Thanks for the reply, islandbrewer. I started to ask a lot more questions, but, like a lot of times, it became unwieldy. I have kind of over-estimated the amount of time I have to follow threads lately. I chose a traffic ticket since, unless an accident was caused, no humans were harmed, and I know if someone gets pulled over, if they’re not smart enough to play stupid and grovel-y, would appeal to the officer that nobody was in the intersection. Since there was no harm done to a person, why is this even a crime? Such reasoning trains people toward harming others by assuming the right of way whenever they want it and calculate that the other guy has time to brake. Why should I have to brake when my light is green and they are not allowed to turn on red? I live in Boston, so traffic violations seem to be something I have to depend on and predict. If a cop is watching and pulls the other guy over, I don’t also have to pull over so he can ask if I want to press charges for undue wear on my brakes. If no cop is standing, there is no recourse for me. I just have to live with chaos and rudeness. I like where I live, but nobody is kidding you about the legendary Masshole.

            If there is an unsafe intersection, I may be able to appeal to a board or committee to add signage or put in a traffic light at an intersection that is problematic, but I probably won’t. Often enough, as the saying goes, someone has to (or, how many have to) die before they put up new signs or lights. I think that is more like how these federal laws apply. It’s not just that someone is damaged, they have to invent ways to call it damage. It’s not enough to apply the law and say “these expressions exclude us and are illegal” – someone has to fake an ulcer and miss a lot of school to prove a case, and they have to be proximal to the offense, be personally violated, or else it doesn’t count. That is a lot like saying religious people can do whatever they want, however long they’ve been doing it, and unless they are causing people physical trauma, it’s okey-dokey. Cases like the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust,” – have you read how that arrived on our money at the treasury website itself? Short story, a fanatic wrote a panicky letter and the Secretary of Treasury appeased the notion. It didn’t take a petition of a thousand signatures or a court case to deliberate on whether that was necessary to be put on money, but it’s hella* fucked up how difficult it is to get it stricken. I don’t see why the Secretary of Treasury, by fiat, could add that phrase to our money, but can’t remove it from the next press, like the keep making other changes to our currency to make it zippy, modern, more hoardable, or harder to counterfeit.

            That’s a bit longer than I wanted to go, but hey.

            *Nobody says that anymore, do they? I am behind the times.

  • Regina Carol Moore

    “Neutrality from a public school is your children’s right”

    That sums up everything!

  • Loqi

    Well shit. I wish they would’ve told my high school football team to cancel all their games, since they didn’t open with a prayer and thus weren’t worth having.

    • Loqi

      Actually, my workday didn’t start with a prayer either, so I think I’ll head home and not come back. Someone is going to have a really awkward conversation with a lot of upset patients about this. Perhaps that person can suggest they try prayer instead.

  • BobaFuct

    This sounds like the type of guilt trip my mom would use…”oh, you don’t like Pirates of the Caribbean? Fine, we’ll just cancel our entire Disneyworld vacation then! You obviously hate me!!!!”

    • islandbrewer

      “You don’t have to actually like Pirates of the Caribbean, no one is forcing you to. Just don’t say anything about it and pretend that you do! And nod approvingly when I talk about it!”

    • Artor

      I’m sorry your mom is so obnoxious. I hope you don’t have to live with her anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Liz-Oshell-Shaw/1252733599 Liz Oshell-Shaw

    Complete garbage and I did not know you could still hold a public school graduation at a church?

    • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

      You can’t. But the parents can hold an unofficial, informal celebration of graduation anywhere they wish. That’s the “clever” workaround.

    • Baby_Raptor

      My graduation back in 04 (Texas) was held in a church.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.warnock.7 Dave Warnock

    emailed him…what a jerk!

  • Lurker111

    Just a side issue here: When did completing 6th grade merit a graduation ceremony? Have I not been paying attention these last few decades? Does anyone have any history on this?

    • islandbrewer

      Dude. My son’s preschool is having a graduation ceremony for the pre-K class. I don’t know when it happened, but modern education has become saturated with celebrations of accomplishment, no matter how mundane. I have no good insight on it, either.

      • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.kohler.338 Andrew Kohler

        As always, George Carlin had insight into that which stymies the rest of us:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6wOt2iXdc4

        (I especially like his comment on kindergarten entrance exams–FSM help us all.)

      • Kodie

        When I was a kid, nobody went to nursery school. I mean, few did, it was not considered essential, especially when nobody’s mom worked outside the home, back in the day, not now when it’s seen more as a choice to. Nursery school was a luxury for some, and not needed to prepare for kindergarten. But the 1ST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! was a huge deal. The same kind of huge deal they are not making in pre-K: since they’ve already technically been to school, how are you going to make their 1st day of school a big deal? You have to invent a graduation. It’s not mundane to me. It’s not coddling them any more than you go watch them dance shitty in their recital, and all the other kids because it’s rude to leave, or any more than going out for ice cream after a Little League game, win or lose.

    • neatospiderplant

      I assume their elementary school goes to 6th grade and then the students move on to middle school.

    • invivoMark

      It’s probably for graduating from elementary school to junior high. I had one for 5th grade – it was a dull affair, entirely worthless, but parents (particularly the stay-at-home moms, as it was a very Mormon neighborhood) loved it and so it became a tradition. The school liked it because it didn’t cost them a thing and it made parents feel “involved”.

      [Alternative, snarky response: It's because in Arkansas, passing 6th grade is an extraordinary accomplishment!]

    • Kodie

      I didn’t have a 6th grade graduation and I don’t know when it started, but I’m not really against it. I was sent home on the last day, unceremoniously with sealed report card in hand. We did have a “Field Day” picnic and games a couple weeks prior to the end of term, but I like graduations. I think sometimes we underestimate how awful and pointless school can seem to kids if they don’t have anything but a report card in hand. This is their job, their grind in life so far. Honor that with a day, what’s wrong with that?

      Passages of time are marked with events, and morale means a lot when you’re an adult, and I think we look back on ourselves as kids, thinking everything was so easy and they should suck it up and be encouraged by the mere fact of a number or letter grade on the form. I don’t think graduation panders to their fragile egos – it recognizes them ceremoniously that they have done well and merit recognition for their promotion to junior high. Besides which, junior high is scary from that perspective. You have a locker combination, 8 different teachers and 8 different classrooms, and you have to change for gym class.

      How about the fact that they might be separated from their good friends who go next year to a different school? Going through the example of treating school and what they do there as an important value, and giving them a chance to see some of their friends for possibly the last time? Respecting their achievement and not taking for granted what they’ve personally put into growing their knowledge for the past 7 years? And all I hear is “these soft kids these days,” kids are putting in a lot of work and they don’t see yet what they’re getting out of it. I think most adults would hate to work for 60% of their life at basically the same job with no formal recognition. And a lot of adults do do that, and because they don’t complain, a child has to live with that standard? We can’t encourage people because that makes the game too heartening to them, and they’ll never learn that life really sucks a lot and nobody gives a shit how hard you work? And the faster anyone learns that these little morale-boosters aren’t cash, the better life will be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Basil-Keilani/664591046 Basil Keilani

    Folks like that who want to shove the Bible down people’s throats or the Koran or whatever don’t respect the constitution. Church is for the Bible and worshiping, not public schools.

  • DesertSun59

    It’s never about the kids. It’s always about the delusion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bfletcher1 Brian Fletcher

    In my opinion prayer is about as important as a sixth grade graduation. Not really that important. just sayin…..

    • Glodson

      The graduation ceremony isn’t important in and of itself. It is the fact that rather than acknowledging the non-theistic and non-Christian students by respecting their rights and not having the prayer that they cancel the entire ceremony.

      That’s what angers me. This “if you don’t let me break the law and have special treatment, I’ll just take my ball and go home” line of thinking. And then to have the nerve to claim that it is the Christians being persecuted makes it worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=778240690 Steve Dustcircle

    Tommy Knight, Superintendent. 601 Catfish Drive Lake City, AR 72437. Ph: (870)-237-4329. Fax: (870)-237-4867

    • baal

      Unless that’s his work address, I suggest not posting information like this. It’s a subtle threat of violence or implication to do vandalism and that’s not a good thing. The email JT put above is official for school stuff and public feedback counts. It’s also remote from the person of the principal.

    • David Simon

      Dude, absolutely not cool.

  • Gehennah

    To take part from the Jessica Alquist (I can’t spell her last name to save my life, I apologize).

    How would they have felt if it were a Budhist or Islamic prayer instead of a Christian one that they had to all stand there and hear, and be promoted by the school district.

  • atheisticallyyours

    Hate mail sent! From my own “atheisticallyyours” gmail account no less! Complete with blaspheming profanity also! ;)

    • Susan Murray

      really, about as childish as his decision!

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.conolley John Conolley

    Figuring he’s not going to read it anyway, I kept it short.

    Mr.
    Knight,

    You’ve managed to make Arkansas look bad again. Picking up your marbles and refusing to play if you’re not permitted to break the law isn’t the action of a responsible administrator. It’s the behavior of a child. And considering you seem to have done it to get the Christian citizens mad at the atheists who asked you to stop breaking the law, I’d have to say it’s the action of a vindictive child. Shame on
    you.

    John Conolley
    Florida

  • Kodie

    First of all, Tommy? Not Thomas? Secondly, it is the school’s fault for having no option but to cancel graduation. I don’t understand the response from the Christian parent(s). I just don’t understand it. I just wrote a rant at Seidensticker’s Cross Examined about how unAmerican Christians can be. They love to wave the flag like it’s theirs, but when it comes down to it, they hate freedom. What they want is not freedom, it’s not liberty. If a public school child has no choice but to endure their religious “freedom” then that’s not freedom. Neither is it democracy. I don’t care how many of them there are compared to how many others there are. You can’t force belief, and you’re not allowed to try. “We just want them to know god is real and loves them,” but why is that essential to graduating from school? Have a party in your backyard and invite the class over to voluntarily be in your company, where you may tell them anything you like to tell them and they can leave your own yard if they don’t like what they hear. If all the other kids already learned that god is real and loves them, who needs to actually hear this at their graduation?

    I think the school should be counter-sued for depriving the children of a graduation ceremony and punishing them unduly for reasons of shallow petulance. When I see how Christian parents cast blame on the child or the child’s parent who brought the claim for canceling an albeit inessential ritual and not the school district, I don’t know what’s in that kind of mind, really. A normal response would not be to cancel the graduation, and a normal response to canceling graduation would be to petition the school to stop being over-reacting knee-jerking fuckwads to their children. Why is it so hard to explain the 1st amendment to people who just shit on what it means and how it applies to them? They don’t need the government to tell them what to believe in order to keep believing it – they need the government to endorse their beliefs in order to keep oppressing minorities.

    The problem they have with atheists is that atheists are the ones who frequently bring these suits to their attention, and because they don’t have developed critical thinking skills, believe that a minority of atheists is going to leverage proselytization of atheism. They have such a fear of stupid crap like Stalin and Mao, and they understand the small end of the wedge because that’s their strategy. They don’t like it when they believe the school is going to de-program their kids and teach them another religion. They understand from how they themselves operate that something has to go in the “god” slot, and they are going to fight like good soldiers against another religion prevailing in the school. They just don’t comprehend nothing. Nothing needs to be talked about in that subject. Nothing is relevant about your religion or someone else’s religion to kids of other religions or no religion. A relationship between you and your kids and your god is not bound into every aspect of life. They can go 6 hours without hearing about Jesus, and nobody is going to introduce them to the occult (I mean atheism) because history, English, math, gym, recess, science, and art take up that time.

  • Stev84

    Prayer denies any accomplishment on the students’ part and gives all the credit to god

    • Susan Murray

      I believe it was just a tradition with the school

  • Alan Westfall

    “What an immature and vindictive action to take. I feel sorry for the students for whom you are supposed to be a role model. You’ve shown yourself to be a reactionary with no respect for the Establishment Clause. For what? If you want to get paid to promote religion, become a pastor. Or the superintendent of a Christian school.

    If any harm comes to this student, it will be on your head.”

    Mine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jbourget32 Jeremy Bourget

    Her comments about wanting to share her god with everyone proves that this event had a deliberate sectarian purpose to evangelize. Most people in this situation have the sense to pretend it has nothing to do with a specific brand of Christianity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yodadamanadamwan Adam Ryan Miller

    “‘Congrats to these students, whose hard work in the absence of any assistance from deities, since none exist to assist them, has really paid off’, then the school would be breaking the law by having me speak.”

    Atheism isn’t a religion so that would in no way be breaking the law. It may be in poor taste in a primarily Christian community but it’s not illegal.

    • Nate Frein

      Yes and no. It’s still the same problem with an xtian doing it. You’re basically using a mic handed to you by the school to say “my beliefs (or lack thereof) are the right ones”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenniferpatricia Jennifer P Brown

    I am a practicing Catholic. I believe in the Christian God.

    And am pissed to high hell at this school. What the hell is wrong with people?

    Spot on. “The reason public institutions must remain religion-neutral (no Christian prayers, and no telling people god doesn’t exist) is for a large part to make sure that everybody is included and can be a part of it.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20703981 David DeMedicis

    “We reached out to superintendent Tommy Knight with Riverside School and said he was advised not to comment at this time.”

    What a copout.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

    Is it not tragic when a christian thinks we should convert another
    culture, forcing them to stop their worship? I’m honestly upset that all
    of you don’t see how tragic this is, that for one student, an entire
    community is being forced to change a valued tradition of no harm. It’s
    not a matter of hating people, or sacrificing goats or babies; it’s a
    bunch of folks thanking the god they believe in, celebrating a special
    occasion in the way they want to celebrate. For one atheist student, who
    just as a christian child is being raised the way their parents are
    teaching them, an entire community is being forced to remove a thanks to
    the god they choose to believe in. I, as one who invests himself in
    science over faith, still finds this appalling that you all don’t see what’s actually happening here. You believe some base cultist indoctrination, when what I see here are a people being told they cannot worship and their free speech
    silenced because of some believed secular protection. These people are
    not making laws, they are celebrating a 6th grade graduation guys. They
    aren’t telling these children here to persecute LGBT people or
    particular ethnic groups, they aren’t wearing clan hoods and screaming
    “watch out kids, obuma gunna take your rights away”, and they aren’t
    shooting guns into the air in a school auditorium yelling yippy-kai-yey.
    It’s a student graduation. While I more then once have found myself
    rolling my eyes when God is mentioned in these situations, I would still
    die to protect that person’s ability to believe it if they wish, so
    long as they do not use it to assault, persecute, or otherwise be used
    as justification to unjustly treat another. Tell your child “hey not all
    folks are going to believe the same as you, and just as they cannot
    force you to believe the way they do, neither should you persecute their
    faith.” We are all humans, and unless we celebrate our passions and
    unique lifestyles, I believe we risk losing that very human part of us.

    • Glodson

      Establishment Clause. The community can do this, their government cannot.

      This is a clear-cut case. They had the option of doing so without the prayer. Not everyone in that school is religious. Or even of the same religion.

      Their Free Speech is not being taken away. This is a government function, through the school. They have no right to pray as that excludes people who aren’t of that religion.

      It’s a student graduation. While I more then once have found myself
      rolling my eyes when God is mentioned in these situations, I would still
      die to protect that person’s ability to believe it if they wish, so
      long as they do not use it to assault, persecute, or otherwise be used
      as justification to unjustly treat another.

      THEY STILL HAVE THAT RIGHT, THEY JUST CANNOT HAVE A PRAYER BEING APART OF THE GRADUATION CEREMONY.

      What of the rights of the non-religious and the non-Christian students? What of the rights of the Christians who don’t believe in public expressions of prayer?

      We are all humans, and unless we celebrate our passions and unique lifestyles, I believe we risk losing that very human part of us.

      No one is taking away their ability to believe whatever myths they wish to believe in. We are just saying that they don’t have the right to enforce their rituals onto others in the process of a government function. Instead of following the law, the Establishment Clause, they elected to scrap the entire ceremony.

      Tell your child “hey not all folks are going to believe the same as you, and just as they cannot force you to believe the way they do, neither should you persecute their faith.”

      Expecting a public school to be religiously neutral is not persecution.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

        There are such things as silly laws, or laws that make sense but can also harm. In this case, what is a prayer hurting? Tell me, how is a prayer at a graduation hurting anyone? Honestly explain this to me, I am open for any debate. Forcing the atheist or non christian, non public prayer child to pray however, is not something that can be forced, so let’s not pretend that is what is being prevented here by removing the prayer.

        • Glodson

          Hurt has nothing to do with it.

          The is a Separation of Church and State issue. Why should anyone who doesn’t pray be forced to sit through the prayer? Why should we have this ritual forced onto children?
          This is a public event, this is an event run by the government. It is clear cut, they don’t have the right to pray. There’s a reason we don’t want religious ceremony tied into the state. And a school function is just that.

          And there is harm. The harm is in the reminder that Christians can use the government to carry out their rituals. A reminder that a group has a special right. And for that reason, this is a fight worth having.

          This shouldn’t be the cause of atheists. This should be the cause of anyone who believes that a government should be secular and devoid of religious trappings.

          Forcing the atheist or non christian, non public prayer child to pray however, is not something that can be forced, so let’s not pretend that is what is being prevented here by removing the prayer.

          By removing the prayer, we are removing the prayer. That’s the fucking point. They cannot have a prayer being a part of any government function. It is as clear as that. This is the law.

          Why shouldn’t we hold them to the same standard as we would anyone else?

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Why should a religious child forced to sit through a science class? Besides the obvious reasons, there is still likely to be a level of tolerance that must be given by that child. Do you think that having your atheist child sitting through a prayer is more likely going to convert them to believe there’s a sky wizard watching their every move, or do you think it’s more likely they will acquire a tolerance of other people and their ways? If anything, cultural representations at school functions like these I believe can teach something to a student, especially an open minded one. So how is the government sponsoring this? Simply because it’s at a school? Did the government say they had to pray? I understand what your fears are, a religious encroachment upon our laws and practices that in fact does pervade some of our law making processes still today, but how is a prayer at a graduation in a religious community unjust? I could understand if they started reading verse from a particular book, (though maybe they could accommodate all representing faiths there in some situations), but what if they just said “and now we would like to take a moment to allow those of faith to pray. If you choose not to, please respectfully acknowledge that there are those that would like to.” Where is the harm? I understand, I want reason to take precedence over religion as well, but I would rather human beings be allowed to live as they want, barring a faith based justification to harm those who do not believe as they do.

          • Glodson

            Why should a religious child forced to sit through a science class?

            False equivalence. Science is not a religion. Science has nothing to do with religion. I would hold that science rules out the need for a god, but science is how reality works. There’s no Separation of Science and State. That would be a very bad idea as science actual does stuff with reality. It is objective, and not a part of a world-view.

            Besides the obvious reasons, there is still likely to be a level of tolerance that must be given by that child. Do you think that having your atheist child sitting through a prayer is more likely going to convert them to believe there’s a sky wizard watching their every move, or do you think it’s more likely they will acquire a tolerance of other people and their ways?

            Strawman. That’s not what I said. I said the prayer serves as a reminder of Christian privilege. It tells people that who don’t share that religion that they are not part of this. They are on the outside. This is not something the government should be doing to citizens.

            But before I go any further. I want this question answered. This is the only question relevant to this in the end.

            Why should we let any religious group hold itself above the law?

          • islandbrewer

            Should have known Glodson would be quicker on the draw than I.

          • Glodson

            Frankly, you did a better job. That posting annoyed me to no end. I cannot tell if the person is confused on the issue, or deliberately trying to misrepresent the issue.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Strawman and Generalization: When did I say I was arguing for Christian privilege? The argument isn’t about Christian privilege, it’s about weather any religious individual should be allowed to pray. If a Muslim person wants to pray, let them pray. If a Jewish person wants to pray, let them pray. It matters not the religion.

            No religion should hold them self above the law, ever. However, this isn’t an appeal to a religious belief being above law, but to one’s ability to practice their belief, in which this law I personally believe is unjustly affecting in this particular instance.

            “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are
            twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
            -Jefferson

            I would like to continue this debate if you are willing. I however have work in an hour and likely will be unable to respond until tomorrow. Good day and good thought.

          • Glodson

            Sigh. Let’s go through this.

            First, I didn’t say you were arguing for Christian Privilege. This is an example of Christian Privilege. Your argument in that we should be tolerant and let them break the law is an example of how anyone can support a privilege. At no time did I say that was part of your argument, I did say that ignoring the law and holding the prayer anyway is an example of Christian privilege.

            Now, here’s where I’m getting annoyed with you. NO ONE HAS SAID THEY DON’T HAVE A FUCKING RIGHT TO PRAY. It is that they DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO INCLUDE PRAYER IN A GOVERNMENT FUNCTION. This has been spelled out to you, in the OP, by Kodie, and myself. More than once. This makes this statement “If a Muslim person wants to pray, let them pray. If a Jewish person wants to pray, let them pray. It matters not the religion,” grossly dishonest. This is not what we are talking about.

            We are not talking about prayer in and of itself.

            No religion should hold them self above the law, ever.

            Then we’re done here. As the prayer in the ceremony of a public school is illegal, they should not have the prayer.

            However, this isn’t an appeal to a religious belief being above law, but
            to one’s ability to practice their belief, in which this law I
            personally believe is unjustly affecting in this particular instance.

            Did you even read the story?

            The Riverside School district has decided not to have a 6th grade graduation this year after a parent
            protested against prayer during the ceremony.

            First sentence. This isn’t about the individual’s right to Free Exercise. This is an Establishment Clause case. This has been explicitly stated several times in the course of this discussion. This is not an argument over whether or not people have the right to pray. They do. A group of students want to gather for prayer before the ceremony, or after? Can’t stop them. No interest in stopping them. This is their right. However, they cannot lead a prayer during the ceremony. This is the crux of the case, and issue.

            The Jefferson quote is entirely irrelevant here as well.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            I believe there to be nothing wrong with holding an inclusive prayer at something such as an event like
            a graduation. While the legality is not present, I question it. I certainly do not want the government to endorse a religion, but I do not wish to see a represented groups spirituality banned it from a celebration either. As Obama, for example, may invoke the word ‘god’ such as he did at the inaguration, so to should that word be allowed to be invoked in a celebratory event such as a graduation. There are people who can separate thier religion from tier politics, but still i believe they should be allowed to acknowledge the presence of their culture. We as a nation are still making a transition from a religious based to a reason based society. I hope we stay the course, and science wins one day over religion. But this is not something I wish to be forced upon people, and just as many atheists, deists, and agnostics within America have come to our side, the side of reason and science, discover truth and the true beauty of our reality for themselves. I do not wish to push these people aside completely. I enjoy culture, different cultures especially, and wish to see them as happy as anyone else. This is what I want our laws to be based around, all of our happiness, not their religious tenants.

            “Then we’re done here.”

            Perhaps you, but I am not. By my statement, and more importantly the statements of the constitution I declared that no religions laws should be considered over
            the laws of a nation. Prayer should not be forced upon an individual, but should in turn not be banned so that those who wish to pray cannot. Laws should be questioned with the changing times, especially in instances where it’s effects on personal, community, and cultural freedoms are showing signs of uninteded consequence. I wholly believe that our founders did not intend this law to be used in the manner this article presents.

            I never said that the parents of these student were in the right either. Their response has been troubling and immature, and by canceling the ceremony and resuming it within a church is indeed very exclusive. I do not approve, but I can see why they consider this to be their only recourse to hold the ceremony at a church, where they are in fact allowed to pray. Our animal instincts for preservation often take hold in these situations, though many times in ways that are not kind nor just to our fellow man.

            “The Jefferson quote is entirely irrelevant here as well.”

            Please explain. Remember, I argue not the legality of praying at a graduation ceremony, but the harm in being around prayer at a graduation ceremony. While irrelevant to the case of legality, not irrelevant to the case I am trying to make.

          • Glodson

            I believe there to be nothing wrong with holding an inclusive prayer at something such as an event like
            a graduation.

            It. Is. Illegal. You’ve been given a direct example of how this practice is harmful. It is an infringement of the rights of the ones in apart of the religion. This is not a right any government representative has. Period.

            While the legality is not present, I question it. I certainly do not want the government to endorse a religion, but I do not wish to see a represented groups spirituality banned it from a celebration either.

            Having a Christian prayer, or any prayer, has a part of a ceremony run by a government body is an endorsement. That’s why school prayer is illegal. This is why we don’t have school prayer. The students are free to pray in their free time, but they are not to be led in prayer by school officials, or as an official part of anything.

            If you are in agreement with the banning of school prayer, prayer led in schools by school officials or made a part of the official school day, then in order to support the prayer at a graduation, you have to make a special pleading.

            As Obama, for example, may invoke the word ‘god’ such as he did at the inaguration, so to should that word be allowed to be invoked in a celebratory event such as a graduation.

            False equivalence. Invoking the word god is not the same thing as prayer. But also, just because they are wrong to include the religious aspects in this doesn’t mean it should be included elsewhere. It shouldn’t be a part of it, but we have no recourse in this regards unless one has an actionable claim with which to challenge this.

            There are people who can separate thier religion from tier politics, but still i believe they should be allowed to acknowledge the presence of their culture.

            Not the argument here. Irrelevant. We are talking about a school led prayer. We acknowledge the presence in our culture. We have to as it is ubiquitous. It is saturated. So why must we sit by and let the skirt the law as well?

            We as a nation are still making a transition from a religious based to a reason based society.

            Good. And we can start by not having prayer in school in any form.

            I hope we stay the course, and science wins one day over religion. But this is not something I wish to be forced upon people, and just as many atheists, deists, and agnostics within America have come to our side, the side of reason and science, discover truth and the true beauty of our reality for themselves.

            We. Are. Not. Forcing. This. On. Anyone. The argument here is about not letting them force their religion unto those who don’t want it. It isn’t just atheists that have Christianity forced on them. It isn’t just non-Christians having prayers they don’t believe forced on them.

            I do not wish to push these people aside completely. I enjoy culture, different cultures especially, and wish to see them as happy as anyone else. This is what I want our laws to be based around, all of our happiness, not their religious tenants.

            We are being pushed aside here. We are seeing the ceremony entirely cancelled because they religious majority cannot have their way despite it being illegal. And here you are, arguing that they should be allowed to do this.

            Perhaps you, but I am not. By my statement, and more importantly the statements of the constitution I declared that no religions laws should be considered over the laws of a nation.

            Yea. No kidding. That’s not the Establishment Clause. The Establishment Clause prevents the state from endorsing any religious practice, and it stops the state from making a religion a part of their operations.

            Prayer should not be forced upon an individual, but should in turn not be banned so that those who wish to pray cannot.

            They can fucking pray. They just cannot have a fucking prayer be a part of the ceremony run by the state, in this case the school. No one is taking that right from them. In fact. Prayer is being forced onto those who don’t wish it as a function of this ceremony. Jesus Christ. It is like you buy into the ridiculous notion of Christian Persecution. Telling them that their prayer is illegal is not denying them the right to fucking prayer. They can pray their damn heads off, they just can’t make it part of any ceremony run by a government agency. This is clear cut and spelled out by the law.

            Laws should be questioned with the changing times, especially in instances where it’s effects on personal, community, and cultural freedoms are showing signs of uninteded consequence. I wholly believe that our founders did not intend this law to be used in the manner this article presents.

            I think it is. The Wall of Separation of Church and State. That’s the point. This is a state function, so no church. In your mind, telling the state that they cannot hold a prayer which as it excludes citizens and ignores their right to not be apart of any religion(or just that religion) is not the Separation of Church and State?

            I never said that the parents of these student were in the right either.Their response has been troubling and immature, and by canceling the ceremony and resuming it within a church is indeed very exclusive.

            And yet, you write in support of their position. I don’t care if you support them or not. Really don’t care one bit, not germane to this discussion. Prayer is not a right of the state. Harm is irrelevant. The jurisprudence has been laid out. They are wrong to include the prayer, and their cancelling of the ceremony for being held to the standard of the law is telling of what is important to them.

            I do not approve, but I can see why they consider this to be their only recourse to hold the ceremony at a church, where they are in fact allowed to pray.

            Last time. They can fucking pray, they just cannot make it part of the official ceremony. We cannot stop anyone from praying as long as they are not doing it in the course of functioning as an agent of the state. Once they stop with that part, they have no compulsion to act under religious neutrality. When the ceremony ends, and they want to gather as private citizens, no one can stop them.

            This has been one big rationalization for this absurd appeal to tradition you’ve kicked off.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Because tradition binds communities, and you don’t even have to believe in their god or religion to enjoy yourself. There are good traditions and bad ones. I believe life is monotonous and bland without stories, legends, myths, and the cultures associated with them. It has the power to enrich our arts, our people, and our minds. Sitting through a prayer has rarely bugged me, not to say that I have not seen or heard examples of prayers that were wrong, malicious, or evil. I have gone to churches and even the Mosque in Dearborn, and conversed with Muslims and fundamentalists alike. While many would be considered strange, few times have the people there ever snubbed me or my questions. Not all people are good, but not all people are malicious. I do not feel that the intent of this prayer at this ceremony was meant to be malicious at it’s inception. You may disagree, and you may continue to quote the legality of this situation, but I cannot currently agree that these people intended originally to harm the atheist student or students by having a prayer at a graduation ceremony. I cannot currently agree that denying a celebratory expression of culture in this situation is in the wrong.

          • Nate Frein

            Intent is not fucking magic. A prayer is not germane to a graduation of any sort in a public school. “Tradition” put the prayer banner in Cranston High. “Tradition” cannot be allowed to continue when it continues at the expense of unwilling participants.

            None of us care that you go into the territories of the faith-heads and have a pleasant time. it has nothing to do with this issue. What they do in their churches and mosques and temples is their business. Respecting their traditions in their churches and temples and mosques is absolutely fine…so long as they respect the neutrality of the public square.

            I cannot currently agree that denying a celebratory expression of culture in this situation is in the wrong.

            What does this even mean?

          • Glodson

            I believe life is monotonous and bland without stories, legends, myths, and the cultures associated with them.

            So? So do I. My daughter knows a bit about some legends and myths because I’m teaching her about it. If they could teach the Bible without proselytizing and presenting it in a scholarly manner, this would be good for schools. In Western Literature, it is referenced often. Even more than Classical Myth, which we teach.

            It is in our art. It is in our culture. It doesn’t need be in our government.

            Sitting through a prayer has rarely bugged me, not to say that I have not seen or heard examples of prayers that were wrong, malicious, or evil. I have gone to churches and even the Mosque in Dearborn, and conversed with Muslims and fundamentalists alike.

            It didn’t bother you. It bothers other people. It is their right to not be bothered in this manner by the state. This is entirely selfish. And again, irrelevant. Even if it didn’t bother you, you would still have the right to not sit through a prayer at government function because the government shouldn’t be praying as a part of their function.

            While many would be considered strange, few times have the people there ever snubbed me or my questions. Not all people are good, but not all people are malicious. I do not feel that the intent of this prayer at this ceremony was meant to be malicious at it’s inception.

            Intent is not the point. I don’t care what they intend. They ignored the rights of a person and acted illegally. Both are actionable. The have a captive audience on which to force their religion. This is a problem.

            You may disagree, and you may continue to quote the legality of this situation, but I cannot currently agree that these people intended originally to harm the atheist student or students by having a prayer at a graduation ceremony.

            I quote it because it actually is a part of this discussion. You are supporting the suppression of the rights of a minority group. I want this to be clear. Your intent doesn’t matter. Just as their intent doesn’t matter. It isn’t the intent of the drunk driver to kill in a fatal accident, but the effect is the same. Who cares what their intent is when they are denying the rights of a minority group in their community?

            I cannot currently agree that denying a celebratory expression of culture in this situation is in the wrong.

            The ceremony itself IS the celebratory expression of culture! The prayer is a religious component that is unneeded.

            “We’re not trying to be pushy or ugly to anybody, we just want them to know there is a God who loves them,” she said.

            From the original story. That’s the problem. This should be a secular event. The inclusion of prayer changes that, and as a government function, that’s just wrong.

            And an appeal to tradition is a poor basis for any argument.

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

            Illegal is illegal. But if you must have an example of harm:

            I grew up in Texas, where most of my classmates were Southern Baptists or other flavors of Christianity. My family’s Jewish, and I was ‘out and proud’ about that. In high school, I considered myself a Jewish agnostic- culturally Jewish, unsure about the existence of God, but quite sure the Christian god wasn’t it. I was consistently proselytized to: in the lunch line, in the hallway, occasionally during class. I lost a few friends. I wasn’t bullied, but I did get a few glares and dirty looks. It certainly wasn’t a lot of harm, and I had some fun while making fun of untenable Christian arguments, but it wasn’t easy dealing with that crap all the time either.

            The prayer (excuse me, “invocation”) at graduation said that the school wasn’t on my side, ever. That the people who told me I was going to Hell, who excluded me, who pitied me, were right. That I wasn’t as important as their myths. That message is toxic, especially for kids from less accepting families or who have been hurt far worse than I.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Your story is tragic, and one that is all too common among students such as yourself in christian strongholds like Texas. I want to make it clear that I know that there are bad people, bad christians in these case, that will use their religion as a basis to harm others emotionally, mentally, and physically. The point I am trying to make here though is that we must be better than this. If we want this to stop, we raise our voices in these situations such as what you went through, not when these people are simply praying at a 6th grade graduation. This creates more of a reason to hate. Were they really targeting
            and singling out an atheist student when they decided to include a prayer during the ceremony, or were they simply praying? I am not trying to be a rabble-rouser, and I understand making these statements on a website such as this, where many of you already hold strong opinions against religion, many due to past unpleasant encounters with it, is going to see quite a bit of backlash. I simply wish to see us live together, and to appriciate each other dispite our cultural differences. If they are hateful, do not feed into it, if you follow science and reason, then you certainly have the mind to do this. Those who wish to hurt you are to blame, do not hate those who share thier religion. Do not roll over and let religion step upon you, but I beg you to not fear it instictively.

            We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
            -Abraham Lincoln

          • Glodson

            Your story is tragic, and one that is all too common among students such as yourself in christian strongholds like Texas. I want to make it clear that I know that there are bad people, bad christians in these case, that will use their religion as a basis to harm others emotionally, mentally, and physically.

            So, why is it different for her but not the student in this story?

            The point I am trying to make here though is that we must be better than this.

            We must be better than holding Christians to the law? We must ignore our rights? We must let them have their way despite them trampling over our rights?

            If we want this to stop, we raise our voices in these situations such as what you went through, not when these people are simply praying at a 6th grade graduation.

            This is how we raise our voices. This is how we act. This is how we remind them that we exist and we have rights too.

            Let’s read M’s post again. She wrote:

            The prayer (excuse me, “invocation”) at graduation said that the school wasn’t on my side, ever.

            This is what these prayers do. It might not be the intent, and it might be part of the intent. Who cares. This is the net effect. This is that these prayers accomplishment. A reminder that the non-Christian is a second class citizen.

            Why is her case different than this one?

            This creates more of a reason to hate. Were they really targeting and singling out an atheist student when they decided to include a prayer during the ceremony, or were they simply praying?

            Irrelevant. Their intent doesn’t matter. This seems to be a tradition. But being a tradition doesn’t make it any less illegal and unethical. It doesn’t make it any less wrong. It doesn’t change the effect the prayer has on the non-Christian student.

            I am not trying to be a rabble-rouser, and I understand making these
            statements on a website such as this, where many of you already hold
            strong opinions against religion, many due to past unpleasant encounters
            with it, is going to see quite a bit of backlash.

            This is a case of Christian Privilege. They likely never even stopped to considered the minority, the non-Christians. And when forced to, they cancelled the ceremony rather than deal with it. We’ve been on both sides of the aisle, many of us. We see the harm the religion does to the believer and the non-believer alike. We do have a dislike of religion.

            And that dislike is still irrelevant. I’ve explained the harm. And now you’ve gotten a direct example of the harm. And even that is not germane. This is about rights. The rights the state lacks, and the rights of the non-Christians being ignored.

            I simply wish to see us live together, and to appriciate each other dispite our cultural differences.

            And part of that is to make others know that we exist and we have rights. Letting ourselves be pushed aside because they’re used to getting their way is no way to proceed.

            Those who wish to hurt you are to blame, do not hate those who share
            thier religion. Do not roll over and let religion step upon you, but I
            beg you to not fear it instictively.

            You know most of us have family that are still religious. And we love them very much. We have friends that are religious. We draw a distinction between religion and the religious. When that family stood up against the prayer, they didn’t do it because they hate Christians, or Christianity. They did it because their rights were being ignored. This isn’t about hating religion. This is about getting them to keep their religion out of government.

            Yes, I hate Christianity. It is a toxic belief that causes real harm. But I happily acknowledge that many Christians I know are good people despite this belief. They do it by largely ignoring the horrors their belief has.

            But I’m still not going to let them have their prayer as a part of any government function.

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

            Oh please, don’t feel sorry for me. It wasn’t tragic. My life thus far been, luckily, free of tragedy, and I don’t want to play up unpleasant incidents into some sort of trauma that, frankly, they weren’t. Unpleasant, sure. A sign of a larger societal problem, definitely. But not tragic. They could have been tragic, if my family was unaccepting or I suffered from depression or many other circumstances. But for me, they weren’t tragic.

            This is how I make a difference. By pointing out the often unwitting harms of religion and religious privilege. By using my personal story to illustrate larger points. By fighting, even a little, for the rights of all (I consider myself feminist first, atheist and environmentalist and socialist and a bunch of other causes second, when it comes to a hierarchy of which causes are most important to me). We are not enemies, but we are not allies, until you come to realize that the rights of all trump the opinions of a privileged majority.

          • islandbrewer

            Why should a religious child
            forced to sit through a science class? Besides the obvious reasons,

            Aren’t the obvious reasons enough? Gah!
            Religion is the subject of both the Establishment Clause and the Free
            Exercise Clause. Science is not religion,
            no matter how many people refuse to “believe” in facts and data.

            there is still likely to be
            a level of tolerance that must be given by that child.

            Tolerance of the requirement that every child
            receive a basic education? And that a
            basic education includes science? Poor
            poor religious child being forced to sit through a class that his parents
            taught him was “lies from the devil”. It’s the religious parents who refuse to
            conform their teaching with reality that’s the real crime, of course. But back to your point, “Rejectors of Science”
            isn’t a constitutionally suspect class.

            Do you think that having
            your atheist child sitting through a prayer is more likely going to convert
            them to believe there’s a sky wizard watching their every move, or do you think
            it’s more likely they will acquire a tolerance of other people and their ways?

            Entirely irrelevant. If the gub’mint is making a child sit through
            a prayer, it’s illegal. “Likelihood of conversion” is not the issue, let’s put
            that in our ever growing pile of strawmen for the wickerman celebration later.
            And here’s a newsflash. If the child is
            growing up in the United States, he or she is already forced to acquire
            tolerance of Christians, because Christianity saturates every fucking corner of
            the US.

            If anything, cultural
            representations at school functions like these I believe can teach something to
            a student, especially an open minded one.

            It doesn’t negate its illegality. And if anyone needed to be taught tolerance,
            do you really think it’s the lone atheist child, or the 98% of the student body
            who is Christian and doesn’t fully appreciate that other points of view exist?

            So how is the government
            sponsoring this? Simply because it’s at a school?

            Bingo!

            Did the government say they
            had to pray?

            It doesn’t have to. Simply forcing a child to sit there and
            listen to the prayer, maybe being noticed for not bowing their heads, perhaps
            opening themselves up to social ostracism, is bad enough, don’t you think?

            I understand what your fears
            are,

            I really think you don’t.

            a religious encroachment
            upon our laws and practices that in fact does pervade some of our law making
            processes still today, but how is a prayer at a graduation in a religious
            community unjust?

            Try inviting an Imam to open the graduation
            ceremony with a prayer that starts “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is
            his prophet” and see how well that goes over … IN ARKANSAS.

            I could understand if they
            started reading verse from a particular book, (though maybe they could
            accommodate all representing faiths there in some situations), but what if they
            just said “and now we would like to take a moment to allow those of faith
            to pray. If you choose not to, please respectfully acknowledge that there are
            those that would like to.”

            A moment of silence has been determined to be
            acceptable, constitutionally. When you
            start making public distinctions between theists and non-theists it presents a
            problem.

            Where is the harm? I
            understand, I want reason to take precedence over religion as well, but I would
            rather human beings be allowed to live as they want, barring a faith based
            justification to harm those who do not believe as they do.

            It’s a reminder that the majority religion
            enjoys a place of undeserved privilege in this country. Those of us who are not members are then, by
            implication, second class citizens.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Science is could be considered a way of belief, being that experiment and evidence can reveal true answers and results. By that I believe that Science DOES in fact deserve to be taught over religion. Science DOES NOT however deserve to be the only reason by which an individual conducts themselves or engages in life, should they choose to do otherwise.

            ‘Tolerance of the requirement that every child receive a basic education?’

            Tolerance to hear another way or belief, belief used lightly in this case as science is grounded in evidence and expirment. Just as one can tolerate that someone
            may like a different style of music, so must one tolerate that others may believe differently then them in affairs such as the existence of an afterlife, a creator, etc etc.

            ‘Entirely irrelevant. If the gub’mint is making a child sit through a prayer, it’s illegal.”

            And so is the ban of gay marriage and smoking weed in most states, and buying alcohol on Sundays in many counties, and giving churches tax exempt status; all quite frankly are silly laws. This law has the power to help people from being discriminated against, which I truly believe was the original intent of the founders. It lately has been used in a deliberate mannner to in turn hurt many communites, simply because thier cultures which are tied into thier religion are being expressed. Not (in this situation at least) to stop discrimination here, not to stop a barbaric practice, but to stop these people from praying to the god they believe in. I argue not for the legality of this situation, but for the peronal freedom for this community to pray at this celebration. There should be a way to go about this that does not deliberately harm anyone and it doesn’t have to involve removing the prayer altogether. If there are those who can figure this out, it would most certainly involveminds aligned
            in reason.

            ‘It doesn’t negate its illegality. And if anyone needed to be taught tolerance, do you really think it’s the lone atheist child, or the 98% of the student body who is Christian and doesn’t fully appreciate that other points of view exist?’

            Overwhelming Generalization, snobbery perhaps, (been a while since I took logic, forgive me if I list the wrong ones). In regards to government sponsorship, it was only a prayer not a class in bible study.

            ‘It doesn’t have to. Simply forcing a child to sit there and listen to the prayer, maybe being noticed for not bowing their heads, perhaps opening themselves up to social ostracism, is bad enough, don’t you think?’

            Appeal to fear. I am not a coward islandbrewer, I do not instinctly think the worst of my fellow man. I need evidence of the individual before assumption of the individual in
            these situations. People are always going to judge others for thier difference, but it’s when they act upon those judgements in harmful ways where the law should protect the victim.

            ‘I really think you don’t.’

            I apologize if I have assumed what your fears are, should that be the case.

            Try inviting an Imam to open the graduation ceremony with a prayer that starts “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet” and see how well that goes over … IN ARKANSAS.

            You and I both know that would go horribly, that’s joke material right there. As for the hatred to Islam, that is something the CHristian who hates it must get over. I also never argued for them to say thier god was the only god and for them to denounce other religions at this graduation. I only argue for thier freedom to pray and celebrate thier culture. Celebrating the better aspects, not
            the hateful ones.

            ‘A moment of silence has been determined to be acceptable, constitutionally. When you start making public distinctions between theists and non-theists it presents a problem.”

            Because we need to learn to appreciate each other, not hate each other. It’s time for this to stop. Not since the 19th century has our country been this divided. Combat
            those who hate, not those who share culture with those who hate. The fact of the matter is we are different. Stop hiding from it and start acknowledging it. Please appreciate your fellow man.

          • islandbrewer

            Science is could be considered a way of belief, being that experiment and evidence can reveal true answers and results. By that I believe that Science DOES in fact deserve to be taught over religion. Science DOES NOT however deserve to be the only reason by which an individual conducts themselves or engages in life, should they choose to do otherwise.

            First, science is not a “way of belief,” it’s a way by which we figure things out about the real world. The facts and phenomena that we learn in science classes isn’t science
            per se, they’re the results of science. No one is suggesting that science be the sole criteria or rationale in
            which one “conducts themselves or engages in life. It is, however, the sole criteria for something to be taught in a science class. I pity the poor religious student who has to “tolerate” science as much as I pity the poor
            student who has to tolerate “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” in English class.

            And so is the ban of gay marriage and smoking weed in most states, and buying alcohol on Sundays in many counties, and giving churches tax exempt status; all quite frankly are silly laws.

            Note how we deal with these silly laws not by ignoring them in the breaking, but by arguing for change to the laws, getting legislators on our side, and changing the tide of public opinion.

            This law has the power to help people from
            being discriminated against, which I truly believe was the original intent of the founders.

            So … Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is NOT so silly, then? Good, we agree on something.

            It lately has been used in a deliberate manner to in turn hurt many communities, simply because their cultures which are tied into thier religion are being expressed. Not (in this situation at least) to stop discrimination here, not to stop a barbaric practice, but to stop these people from praying to the god they believe in.

            As said so many many times in these anectdotal situations, [citation needed].

            I argue not for the legality of this situation, but for the peronal freedom for this community to pray at this celebration.

            So, again, it’s not a silly law, you’re saying, now? Anyone, at anytime during this government sponsored, taxpayer funded celebration can close their eyes and start talking to their imaginary friend(s). No one, not even the government, can stop them. However, the government can’t lead them in prayer, which is what this case is about.

            There should be a way to go about this that
            does not deliberately harm anyone and it doesn’t have to involve removing the prayer altogether. If there are those who can figure this out, it would most certainly involve minds aligned in reason.

            While your phraseology makes me shudder with the implied deepities, if a bunch of student families want to make their impressionable little folks pray at graduation, they can hold a prayer before or after the actual ceremony, or request just a moment of silence (in which they secretly talk their imaginary friends! Sneaky,
            except for the fact that every knows what they’re doing).

            Overwhelming Generalization, snobbery perhaps, (been a while since I took logic, forgive me
            if I list the wrong ones).

            You and I can both dig up legions of examples of atheist kids ridiculed, jeered, ostracized, kicked out of homes, simply for being atheist. Cite one example of a student
            in the US being subjected to the same thing for being Christian.

            In regards to government sponsorship, it was only a prayer not a class in bible study.

            Um, so? That doesn’t magically make it not a government
            sponsored event.

            Appeal to fear. I am not a coward islandbrewer, I do not instinctly think the worst of my fellow man. I need evidence of the individual before assumption of the individual in these situations.

            Remember the legions of examples I talked about? And I was actually paraphrasing the SCOTUS in Engel v. Vitale and Abington Township v. Schemp.
            It’s not so much an appeal to fear as much as an accurate recitation of what happens to kids who are different in schools.

            You and I both know that would go horribly, that’s joke material right there.

            Of course. Badabump, I’m here all week. Wait, didn’t you just call that hypothetical reaction an “Overwhelming
            Generalization, snobbery perhaps”, and then go and agree with my premise?

            As for the hatred to Islam, that is something
            the CHristian who hates it must get over.

            Maybe one little tiny first step in Christians getting over
            their hatred of other beliefs is maybe first acknowledging that other beliefs exist. Maybe they could do this by …
            hmmm, lemme think … maybe, oh, not having a sponsored prayer in a public school graduation?

            I also never argued for them to say thier god
            was the only god and for them to denounce other religions at this graduation.

            But they kind of implicitly do when they pray a Chistian, Judeo/Christian, or generalized Abrahamic prayer.

            I only argue for thier freedom to pray and
            celebrate thier culture.

            No one is arguing that they can’t! They just can’t use a government soapbox to do it. Why is this one point soooo sooo very hard?

            Celebrating the better aspects, not the hateful ones.

            Yeah, you know, we can’t start getting into the business of picking and choosing which aspects of a religion are “good” and which are “bad.” That road leads to a whole bunch more argument.

            Because we need to learn to appreciate each other, not hate each other.

            Agreed. I never argued for hating, just not using my
            tax dollar to fund prayers. Is that really so over the top?

            It’s time for this to stop. Not since the 19th century has our country been this divided. Combat those who hate, not those who share culture with those who hate. The fact of the matter is we are different.

            Thank you, I needed some over the top platitudes. *sigh*

            Stop hiding from it and start acknowledging it.

            I ain’t hiding from jack shit.

            Please appreciate your fellow man.

            I do. I just don’t appreciate my fellow man breaking the law and claiming special privilege to do so.

        • Kodie

          Why does it hurt so awfully much to take it out? It’s unconstitutional to force a captive audience to listen to a prayer in a public institution such as school is. If you think it hurts no one, why do you insist that it must stay? Just because “majority” and “tradition”? Those are lousy excuses to break a law, by which I mean you don’t think the law applies to your circumstances but should be enforced for everyone else. It’s not like it’s hurting anyone to have the prayer removed from the graduation ceremony. Or do you contend that it hurts so much it has to stay in to protect their fragile emotional attachment to idolatry?

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Have you ever had to sit through a prayer Kodie?

          • Kodie

            Is that an answer to my question?

          • islandbrewer

            Are you playing that game where each person answers every question with a question?

            Edit: Kodie, Your response was fine. I just see Brandon continuing on in this vein without actually responding. i.e., the snark was not to you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Is that an answer to mine?

            Why does it hurt to take it out? Because they want to thank their god. Would you be upset if a harmless tradition of yours was removed? You all keep mentioning
            the legality of this, and that’s really not what I am arguing. I hold contempt for the use of this law for purposes such as this, as I feel it is being used to harm people more than it is being used to save and help people. This instance,
            I believe is one of them. Their fragile emotional attachment to idolatry aside, they are human. They want to enjoy life, and removing this harmless prayer, a tradition not based in hatred but appriciation though believed granted by a higher power, does hurt them. Does having to sit through a prayer truly hurt you?
            To the atheist student who felt uneasy in this situation, perhaps a speech involving quotes from Tyson or Sagan, perhaps something celebratory has every right to be included as well. These situations should bring us together, not tear apart and single us out.

          • Nate Frein

            The tradition is not “harmless”. It alienates all non-christians. And they are perfectly capable of thanking their god without the school providing a pulpit to do so.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            It has never made me feel alienated. I cannot say the same for you or anyone else I suppose.

          • Nate Frein

            No. No you can’t. You already have multiple instances of anecdotal evidence contrary to what you felt.

            I’m sorry you’re too self-absorbed to get that a number of people simply do not want to have to sit through a prayer in the context of an event where prayer is simply not germane.

            I’m sorry that you’re too privileged to understand that just because you don’t have a problem with someone violating the constitution that doesn’t mean it should be allowed or that it is harmless.

            Jeezum crowe, do you understand how you come across? You’re a bloody “chill girl” of atheism. “Gee, it doesn’t bother me so I just don’t get why your knickers are in a twist”.

          • Glodson

            I’m sorry you’re too self-absorbed to get that a number of people simply
            do not want to have to sit through a prayer in the context of an event
            where prayer is simply not germane.

            Exactly. The feelings of offense, or alienation, are entirely irrelevant in the end. It is our right to take part in all government functions with the expectation of no prayer. This is our right. It is not on us to justify why we want to assert our rights. It is on them to justify why our rights should be ignored, why they should not be held to the same standard of law.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            Because I am, as you put it, “the chill girl”; though I am in fact a male. Privileged? Ha. You know nothing of my life to make that assumption. I just really just cannot understand why people, especially those who appeal to reason, can hate others so instinctively. I spent much of my childhood hating others. I still regret it. Life is too precious to waste it in this manner.

          • Nate Frein

            Privileged? Ha. You know nothing of my life to make that assumption.

            I know that you have systematically ignored every person hear who has related feelings of alienation from having to sit and be part of a school (a.k.a. government) led prayer. I know that you have gone so far to tell one that “they were going overboard”.

            Yes. You are privileged.

            Because I am, as you put it, “the chill girl”; though I am in fact a male.

            You are denouncing people who are asking for their constitutional rights to be respected simply because you don’t feel that you personally are hurt. You are the direct atheist equivalent of the women who support “men’s rights” movements.

            I just really just cannot understand why people, especially those who appeal to reason, can hate others so instinctively. I spent much of my childhood hating others. I still regret it.

            Putting a foot down is not “hate”. Anger at people continuing to blatantly disregard the constitution is not “hate”. What you are seeing here is not “hate”. “Hate” is the word that privileged people like you use to try to shut down these conversations.

            Life is too precious to waste it in this manner.

            Then kindly fuck off and stop wasting your “precious” life on us.

          • Glodson

            Privileged?

            It has never made me feel alienated. I cannot say the same for you or anyone else I suppose.

            You are arguing that we should just let them pray in the ceremony. When confronted with examples of how it effects people, you say this. That’s privilege. It doesn’t bother you, it is a sociological advantage that not everyone shares. It isn’t a concern.

            It doesn’t bother me either, but I recongize that not everyone is in the same boat. Not everyone was brought up Christian, and these prayers have added meanings for them. That’s the point you ignore.

          • Loqi

            It’s probably easiest to explain the concept of being a chill girl through example. Suppose two women are walking down the street, and a man shouts to them, “Hey baby, nice tits! Why don’t you give me a peek sometime?” One of the women gets upset about being treated as if she’s nothing more than a sex toy for some guy. What he wants (sex/to be a douchebag) matters, while what she wants (to be left alone) doesn’t. The other woman tells her she needs to calm down. “It’s not like he raped you,” she says. “He was complimenting you. I don’t get why you’re upset. I don’t mind when guys catcall me.” The second woman is a chill girl. That’s what you’re doing here. You are telling us that what we want (to not have other people’s religion pushed on us, to keep the church and state separate, to not be treated as outsiders) isn’t as important as what they want (to prosthelytize). Furthermore, what they want doesn’t bother you, so you don’t get what everyone is all upset about. We should just chill out and stop being all uppity.

          • Loqi

            You’re a bloody “chill girl” of atheism.

            Nailed it. Also seems oblivious to the hypocrisy of telling us we need to be humble while simultaneously telling us how we should feel, because it’s how he feels. That’s why I think he’s trolling. I think he’s aware of it and is just talking to be an ass.

          • Nate Frein

            Yeah. I’m not seeing any posts from him on any other threads on Disqus. I’m inclined to agree with you.

          • Loqi

            Amusing that he thought the best way to troll would be to act like Stedman.

          • Kodie

            They want to enjoy life,

            They want to enjoy their life at the expense of my enjoyment of mine.

            and removing this harmless prayer, a tradition
            not based in hatred but appriciation though believed granted by a higher
            power,

            A figment of their imagination, a tradition based in assuming nobody would mind, since we’re all Christians here, aren’t we?

            does hurt them.

            It does not.

          • Glodson

            Brandon O’Farrill

            Have you ever had to sit through a prayer Kodie?

            Irrelevant. That doesn’t address her points, at all. If the prayer is harmless, then why do we even need it there in the first place? Is the pain of removing the prayer so great that we will just turn a blind eye to the breaking of the law?

          • hotshoe

            Of course I’ve had to sit through prayers, Brandon. I do live in an American state, after all, and there is no escaping christian prayer around here. It hasn’t killed me yet, if that’s what you’re trying to imply, that I need to suffer obvious physical or emotional damage before I can object to it.
            But prayer makes me furious when it’s invoked by one of my government representatives – as in the mayor opening the city council meeting with “we ask for god’s guidance, in the name of Jesus Christ we ask” or the principal/teachers/councilors of the elementary school calling for god (the christian god, of course) to bless the children.
            Who can object to asking for god’s guidance or god’s blessing, you ask? Why does it make me furious, you ask? Because it makes clear that I am not one of them, not one of the community who matters, not equal but lesser, not protected from discrimination against me on the basis of my “wrong” faith or “non” faith.
            How can I trust that city council to give me a fair hearing if I ever have to appear in front of them for a dispute when I’m in conflict with one of their own kind, one of the christians whom they clearly favor (as they are all praying to their mutual Jesus week after week)? How can I trust that principal/reacher/councilor to give my children fair grades and fair adjudications of any playground issues if they come in conflict with any of the preferred openly-christian school folks?
            That’s why the US founding fathers in their wisdom mandated that our government show no favoritism either to any one religion or to no religion at all.
            Of course, we can’t stop them from thinking what they want, and we don’t want to stop them. Pray in secret all you want, folks! But we can – and must – stop them from behaving in overtly discriminatory ways which make it clear that atheists and members of non-christian faiths are not included.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            I think you’re going a little overboard. Your intolerance is showing. Sitting through a prayer isn’t going to kill you. Be humble, for you are human just as any one of us. Be noble, for you follow the way of reason and science.

            Why does it anger you when a mayor invokes prayer? Is the point of a representative not to represent their people? Hate to say it, but we still live in a religious country. Now, invoking only the Christian god? Perhaps there you do have something to complain about, especially if meant as a slight specifically against another person/group’s religion, but if thanking a god, if leading a people in prayer, joining any and all who wish to join is a crime then that is tragic
            It makes clear you are not one of them? Did you want to be a part of their religion? Why not take joy in just celebrating with your fellow man.
            How can you trust them to give you a fair hearing? How can you trust anyone then? Do you think that by stopping them from praying is going to help your case when that time comes? Do you truly fear them that much? Do you think there is no recourse should your belief cause them to sentence you unjustly? Hate breeds only hate.

          • Nate Frein

            Check your bloody privilege.

          • Loqi

            You cannot possibly be this stupid. There’s simply no way you could read everything everyone has said to you and still completely misunderstand everything about everything. I very much doubt your sincerity here. I think you’ve come in here to troll. You can fuck right off.

          • Loqi

            I also like “your intolerance is showing.” Thomas Jefferson: #1 religious bigot of all time!

          • Loqi

            Is the point of a representative not to represent their people? Hate to say it, but we still live in a religious country.

            Argumentum ad populum. If 51% of his people wanted to have black people executed, is he right to do it because that’s the will of the people? Also, we don’t live in a religious country. We live in an explicitly secular country in which a majority of people happen to be religious. Similarly, the majority of the population happens to be white, but we are not an officially white country, and it would be wrong to have a principal go onstage during a graduation and force everyone to join him in a white supremecist rally.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            fair enough, you’ve bested me there Loqi. : )

          • Glodson

            Is the point of a representative not to represent their people?

            And the point of the Constitution is the limit the power of the government. Which means the government lacks powers and rights. Which is the point of this discussion, making this question moot.

          • http://www.facebook.com/brandon.ofarrill.5 Brandon O’Farrill

            You’ve got me on that one as well Glodson. I see you’ve posted more, and I will try to respond to them later. I’m actually a bit under the weather today and am going to nap for a bit. I am having fun debating with you and the others, and whichever conclusion we arrive at, whether same or separate, the spirit of debate is to think and question correct?

  • http://handsomefatman.com/ Carlos Alexandre

    Disgusting.

  • Atheists without you

    Id like to know who this kid is so that we can support him. im sure hes feeling pretty crucified by these assholes

  • SoMa

    “A lot of the parents, the Christian parents decided to get together and do it at the church,” she said. Adams said some of the parents are meeting Thursday to discuss which church will host the ceremony and to re-plan graduation.

    So at first it was inclusive and illegal. Now it’s even more illegal and exclusive.

    • Zinc Avenger

      Part of me hopes it turns into an argument when they can’t decide on a single church, because those HERETICS in the Third Baptist Primitive Congregation of Christ Savior can’t get on with the Third Baptist Primitive Congregation of Christ Messiah.

    • kanenas101

      Isn’t this what you people wanted? You people want the people of faith to “keep it at church” and they are doing just that. Why is this a bad thing?

      I mean, shouldn’t you people be happy that this possibly “religious” graduation was canceled? Now there won’t be anyone saying any words that have no meaning to you, but for some strange reason you find offensive anyway, at a school-school sanctioned event.

      You people should be dancing in the streets celebrating!

      • Compuholic

        You people want the people of faith to “keep it at church” and they are doing just that.

        Bullshit. If they were just doing that they would have the graduation and simply keep the religious part out of it. It’s not like a graduation is a religious ceremony.

        No. They were saying: If we cannot have it in a religious way we don’t want to have it at all. And it shows that they care more about the display of their religiousity than about the kids.

        • kanenas101

          Again, why does it bother you so much that a group of private citizens organize in a privately-owned facility and engage in religious conduct in private? They’re simply doing what you insist they do.

          Nothing is stopping you from organizing your own atheist graduation ceremony in a similar fashion. Go have at it and enjoy yourselves.

          • Nate Frein

            None of which addresses the primary point that the original graduation was cancelled because some people couldn’t force their religion into it. Continuing to ignore this fact paints you as deceitful. Isn’t that a sin?

          • kanenas101

            I’m certainly not ignoring it. The school district saw a problem and applied a solution that was fair and equitable to everyone involved.

            Again, you people got what you wanted. There will be no “offensive” prayers at a school graduation ceremony and the people who wish to celebrate this event in their own way, with or without religion. Why aren’t you people thrilled and overjoyed at the outcome?

            Honestly I wish more schools would do this, with graduations, proms, school plays, and any other event that rubs some people the wrong way. This way, no one will believe they are being compelled to participate in something that they feel goes against their beliefs.

          • islandbrewer

            No, we didn’t “get what we wanted.” “We” want a school graduation that all graduating students can enjoy. “We” want inclusiveness. Do you think that, say hypothetically, it’s good for a high school to cancel prom, while parents arrange a “private” prom that invites basically the entire school, except for the black students? Or do you think it would be better just to fucking have a prom to which all students were invited?

            What we don’t want is huffy holier than thou persons like yourself screeching, “There! Graduation cancelled! Happy, now, you insufferable atheist?!?!” Why is having just a plain old graduation that doesn’t have a prayer so fucking alien to you, kanenas? Why is it so fucking difficult for people like you to just let a school have a fucking graduation ceremony where the speakers just say “Hooray for all your academic achievements!” Please, tell me why that is so fucking anathema to you?

          • Nate Frein

            Yup.

            You’re being dishonest. You have nothing of interest to add to this conversation because you refuse to engage the primary point.

          • kanenas101

            What am I saying that is incorrect?

            Why is it wrong for the school district to say “You know, this ceremony is obviously going to anger a lot of people, let’s just skip it and save ourselves the hassle and controversy?”

            We expect everyone to be treated equally by the government, right?

            Well here’s your equal treatment.

          • Nate Frein

            The ceremony wouldn’t have angered anyone if they’d kept it secular in the first place.

            The whole thing is a load of christian privilege.

            Your “equal treatment” is like a harried mother burning a toy that two children were fighting over. It’s immature and abusive there and it’s immature and abusive here.

          • kanenas101

            Shrug. Why is it everyone else’s problem if you people wake up every day with a chip on your shoulder against Christians?

            Your not wanting a religious invocation at this event carries as much weight as someone wanting a religious invocation at such an event. It is obvious that there is no happy medium here so the best solution is to not have a divisive event that won’t make the other party happy and let everyone go their separate ways and do what they wish to do.

            No one can or should stop you from holding a private graduation ceremony that is completely devoid of any religious invocation whatsoever, that is your natural right. Just as no one can or should stop Christians who wish to hold a private ceremony that celebrates God. Both groups get what they want. Now why do you protest the latter group doing as they choose to do?

          • Nate Frein

            Your not wanting a religious invocation at this event carries as much weight as someone wanting a religious invocation at such an event

            There’s this thing called the establishment clause that begs to differ.

            You know what? I’m done. You’re deliberately obtuse because otherwise you’d have to admit that you’re not a persecuted little shit after all…you’re just a lying little shit.

          • kanenas101

            And I agree with you. The government should not be engaging in any activity that imposes religion on anyone. Ergo, the school district was right to do the mature thing and not have a ceremony in which people would feel they were being lectured to about religion.

            Now look, it might stink that you aren’t happy with the outcome of this event, but hey, next time, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

          • islandbrewer

            No, the school did not do the mature thing. It did the petulant and pouty thing.

            The mature thing would have been to just take out the prayer, and have a secular graduation ceremony like most other schools have every year.

          • Compuholic

            Again, why does it bother you so much that a group of private citizens organize in a privately-owned facility and engage in religious conduct in private?

            If that were what they are doing I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But it is an event organizer and endorsed by the school. So there is nothing private about it. It is as simple as that.

            If you still have troubles comprehending the problem, picture this: The school is having as islamic prayer and is asking everybody to participate. You don’t have to participate but they are going to kneel down on the rug and pray towards mecca. According to you that would be a perfectly sensible thing to do.

            Nothing is stopping you from organizing your own atheist graduation ceremony in a similar fashion.

            Why stop there? Maybe the muslims want to have their own graduation too. And maybe the Christians don’t want to put up with one another. So lets have a separate graduation for the baptists, methodists, and for whatever religion is represented in the class. I can turn this around as well. If you really want to have your prayer: organize your own graduate ceremony. Wouldn’t that be the best thing for everybody.

            Or as a second option: We can decide that religion is not the business of the school, and organize a graduation free of any religious bullshit. After that the christians and all the other religions can have a private meeting and do whatever comes to their idiot minds.

  • islandbrewer

    Did you see the quotation marks? It was meant to indicate that I’m imitating the rationale of many apologists who take the “if it bothers you just ignore it” argument.

  • http://www.facebook.com/genie.domeier Genie Domeier

    No wonder Arkansas is the butt of so many incest jokes….”don’t pray in our schools and we won’t think in your churches”.

  • http://twitter.com/chaddamato Chad Damato

    Sent him an email.

  • David Platt

    I’m an atheist and I have a contradictory view to this entire article. Here is another way to look at it. It is a ceremony that has little practical meaning. If the majority of the audience wants a public prayer let them have it. Do you have to pray with them, NO!! Are you going to be automatically infected with the jesus bug if you hear the prayer NO! The prayer won’t last more than five minutes you take a deep breath roll your eyes and let things move on to the meaningful part of the gathering. If you have the right to say, “I don’t believe in God” they have the right to say “I do.” If you don’t believe in it, it is just meaningless words. Why respond so aggressively to meaningless speils in the first place?

    • Compuholic

      It is a ceremony that has little practical meaning.

      Ok, then it should not be a problem for them to stop forcing it on everybody else.

      If the majority of the audience wants a public prayer let them have it.

      So breaking the law is okay when a majority is in favor of it?

      The prayer won’t last more than five minutes you take a deep breath roll your eyes and let things move on to the meaningful part of the gathering.

      1. It has nothing to do with the time required

      2. It is that the school has absolutely no business in promoting any religion

      3. If it is not meaningful then why do it in the first place

      If you have the right to say, “I don’t believe in God” they have the right to say “I do.”

      Yes they do. And they can do whatever comes to their idiot minds when they are on their own. But when acting in their official capacity as representatives of the school it show at least incredible bad judgement to declare their beliefs. That alone is probably only bad judgement and not illegal. But organizing an official prayer certainly crosses the line.

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