Valedictorian gives Christians in the audience a chance to announce their lack of empathy. The crowd complies.

You’ve probably seen this video by now.  It’s of a high school valedictorian who, prohibited from praying in his talk, made the defiant gesture of tearing up his talk while at the podium and appealing to the majority with the lord’s prayer.

When I first watched this, something about it bugged me (and not just that the kid’s an asshole).  There’s no legal violation because the school didn’t know.

This morning it occurred to me.  Listen to the crowd.  They love that this kid broke the rules to give a nod to their faith.  They’re going apeshit in the stands.  Of course, what if an atheist student had taken the time to say there is no god, no Jesus, and kudos to the graduating class for succeeding on their own?  What if a Muslim student had taken the time to talk about the glory of Allah?

They would not have cheered.  They would have been furious that the graduation day of their children had been tainted with such a message.  For all this talk we hear about how religion makes people better, and how the countless examples to the contrary are just the bad apples, here we have a whole stadium of believers whose Christian faith has robbed them of the ability to empathize – to imagine what it would be like in other people’s shoes.

To care less for others – that is the product of Christianity in the majority of the adults who were at that graduation.  And reading the news, I have a hard time believing anybody who says the ratios are different outside the stadium.  Sure, Christianity might get a Christian to make a charitable donation because they want heaven, or because they seek the approval of Jesus.  But when it comes to empathy, that is often drowned beneath the expectation of certain privileges for Christians…even as they expect cries about what offends them to register with others.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.