Students Demand Apology Over Superintendent’s Christian Speech, Prayer at Graduation

Photo Credit: Willard High School/Facebook

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A small group of students from a public high school in Missouri are demanding an apology from their district superintendent for incorporating Christian themes into his graduation speech and leading those gathered in a prayer.

According to reports, in addition to offering general encouragement, Superintendent Kent Medlin mentioned “the Savior” and referenced the Bible during the May 13 graduation ceremony for Willard High School. He also invited parents voluntarily to stand for a prayer of blessing over the students.

But some students say that the religious content of his message made them uncomfortable, and they felt “pressured” to stand up for the prayer when others did so.

“I was upset by it. I thought it was offensive to anyone who was attending who was not of the Christian faith,” graduate Joseph Amundson told the Springfield News Leader. “I didn’t stand because it made me so mad that he did that.”

“I came there to graduate, not go to church. It kind of ruined the rest of my night,” senior Preston Schaeffer also remarked to the outlet. “That was the last night of my high school experience and he chose to talk about religion instead of graduation.”

Medlin has offered prayer at past graduation ceremonies, but the four students who contacted the media state that they want the practice stopped. They plan to also reach out to the American Civil Liberties Union to complain.

The superintendent, however, says that he never meant to make unbelievers uncomfortable and that he rather found the evening to be beautiful.

  • Connect with Christian News

“If my behavior was offensive to anyone then I am truly sorry,” Medlin told reporters. “I in no way wanted to offend anybody. That was not my intention.”

Some students have since come to Medlin’s defense, stating that they too found his contribution to be enjoyable and that students were never asked to stand for the prayer—only parents.

“It was clear to me that Dr. Medlin had no intention of making any graduating seniors uncomfortable when he invited parents to stand with him. We stood on our own. It was our choice. He made no indication to the class of 2017,” graduate Sam Bird wrote to the Springfield News Leader in response to the initial report.

“It is important to me for it to be known that Dr. Medlin took no rights away from my graduating class. He did not force us to do anything, nor was his intention to make anyone feel excluded. As one of the first graduates to stand, I stood on my own. He didn’t tell me to,” he noted.

“I hope everyone publicly realizes that this man truly made WHS graduation a beautiful night,” Bird said.

As previously reported, in 1828, just 52 years after the nation’s founding, Noah Webster, known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”

Webster’s famous 1783 “Blue Back Speller,” which taught students how to read, included God-centered statements in lessons such as “The preacher is to preach the gospel,” “Blasphemy is contemptuous treatment of God,” and “We do not like to see our own sins.”


A special message from the publisher...

Dear Reader, because of your generous support, we have received enough funds to send many audio Bibles to Iraqi and Syrian refugees displaced by ISIS in the Middle East. Many have been distributed and received with gladness. While we provide for the physical needs of the people, we seek to provide the eternal hope only found in Jesus Christ through the word of God. Would you join us by making a donation today to this important work? Please click here to send an audio Bible to a refugee family >>

Print Friendly
  • bowie1

    If they felt pressured to stand then those few students must be cowards. If I had some issue with what is being said or done then I would not stand up if invited to do so. As Christians we should not be ashamed of the gospel even if it means being criticized for it.

    • Jason Todd

      Nobody pressured them to stand. As the story clearly says, only parents were asked to stood. Students did because they wanted to. To indicate anything else is a lie.

      • bowie1

        I stand corrected. But some parents may not want to stand up either.

        • Jason Todd

          That’s not the point. These pansies were offended because someone had the audacity to mention God.

          “We don’t believe in God, so nobody should ever mention Him while we are around.” That’s what they believe. And they are 100% full of crap. You are welcome to sit down and listen, put your fingers in your ears and go, “Naah naah naah,” or simply leave the room.

          To suggest 4,998 people submit completely to the desires of two is silly and unconstitutional, as the 1st Amendment gives freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

          Thus endeth the lesson.

          • Parodyx

            It was the wrong place for him to invoke religion. It was a graduation ceremony, not a church ceremony.

            It does not make people “pansies” to point that out.

          • Amos Moses

            yeah it does ……….

          • Parodyx

            He is free to preach in his church.

          • Amos Moses

            he is free to preach WHERE EVER he chooses …………

          • Parodyx

            That’s just not true, Amos.

          • Amos Moses

            Yes it is ….. unless you want to live in a fascist tyranny …….. free speech ….. means you are free to speak …. at all times ….. in any location …… or it is just so much wild blueberry muffins …………

          • Parodyx

            We do not live in a Christian theocracy, Amos.

          • Amos Moses

            guess what …. that HAS NOT ONE THING TO DO WITH IT ………. a free society is not free if you CANNOT SPEAK ….. ummmmm ……….. DUH! …………. like freedom 101 …. a …..

          • Ambulance Chaser

            We have the right to freedom of speech. We do not have the right to a microphone and an audience.

          • Amos Moses

            true …… but it was provided …. so what is your problem ………..

          • james blue

            “free speech ….. means you are free to speak …. at all times ….. in any location .”

            No it doesn’t. If I come into your home and you don’t like what I say you can have me removed, If I go into a store and start speaking and the owner doesn’t like what I say he can have me removed. You can be removed from a theater for heckling.etc. etc.

          • Amos Moses

            maybe …. but …. YOU STILL HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY IT ……………… ummmmm ….. DUH! ….. your rights …. DO NOT COME FROM THE LAW OR MEN ………… end of discussion …………..

          • james blue

            Good morning idiot

          • Amos Moses

            yawn ……..

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Yes, just not wherever you please. Likewise, the superintendent can preach all he wants from a street corner, or in his house, or his church, or anywhere there is a public forum. But at a graduation ceremony is not a public forum.

    • james blue

      Would you be giving the same comment if the orator was offering an Islamic or Satanic prayer?

      • Amos Moses

        sure … and if it was …. and i heard that was being said ……. i would just sit down ……. and let them think what they want ………

    • Parodyx

      Pressure is probably not the right word – discomfort is probably more like it. Those kids went along with it to be polite and would have found it more uncomfortable to create a scene and should be commended for not doing so at the time, which would have caused the superintendent a lot more embarrassment.

  • Jason Todd

    These limp-wristed snowflakes are not attending the school anymore, but they want the ACLU to punish it because they got their widdle feewings hurt over some words.

    Once upon a time, punks like these got their clocks cleaned on the last day of school. Maybe it’s time they brought it back.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      No, they want the courts to punish the school because the school violated the Constitution.

    • Colin Rafferty

      Those students are being insulted at their own graduation by someone telling them that their religion is wrong.

      And you think that people who want to practice a different religion should be beaten? That’s disgusting.

    • Parodyx

      Do you dare deny that you would be offended if those “words” were Muslim prayers?

      • Amos Moses

        i have sad news for you …… the first amendment does not give anyone the right to NOT be offended by anothers speach ……………. buck up ….. be an adult ……..

        • Parodyx

          I have sadder news for you. A graduation ceremony is not the place to invoke religious speech.

          • Amos Moses

            again …. the “Free Speech Zone” ….. starts at the Atlantic ocean ….. and ends at the Pacific …. and all points inbetween …… or you do not have free speech …… you have a tyranny of the “offended” ……….. a bunch of cry bullies ……….

          • Parodyx

            It isn’t about being offended. It’s about the separation between church and state. It’s the same reason we are seeing statues of the Ten Commandments removed from public property.

          • Amos Moses

            “It isn’t about being offended.”

            BULLROAR ………

          • Parodyx

            Yes, you do have some strange expressions. The point remains anyway.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I know of no law, in any state, that says this. There are many reasonable restrictions on free speech throughout the country. We have laws against defamation of character, causing a public disturbance, and yes, government endorsement of religion. The law doesn’t change simply because you want it to.

          • Amos Moses

            ummmm … the 1st amendment covers the entire country ……… but you are right …… “The law doesn’t change simply because you want it to.” ………. it also applies to you ……

          • Ambulance Chaser

            So you think the First Amendment grants you the right to say, literally whatever you want, wherever you want, under any circumstances?

            Do you believe it is (not should be, but IS) legal to:

            1. Walk into any random kindergarten classroom in America at any time, and start reading from 50 Shades of Gray?

            2. Shout profanity at a judge during a trial?

            3. Accuse your next door neighbor of being a murderer with no evidence?

            4. Shout, on a crowded subway platform, that you have a bomb strapped to your chest?

            5. Walk into your boss’s office and announce that you’re going to kill him?

          • Parodyx

            Darn, and he went all silent. I was really looking forward to how he answered those.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Me too.

  • Ambulance Chaser

    The students are correct. The Superintendent leading the group in a graduation prayer is a clear violation of Lee v. Weisman. There is not even any wiggle room here. This is almost exactly what Lee was about.

  • Bacchus

    Strange how “public” has come to mean “anti-religious.” Sure wasn’t that way when the Constitution was written.

    Btw, there is a Prayer Room in the US Capitol, a public building that was used for Christian worship services since the time it was built. Does that upset atheists? I sure hope it does.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      “Strange how “public” has come to mean “anti-religious.” Sure wasn’t that way when the Constitution was written.”

      No, but there have been 27 amendments to the Constitution, so what it said when it was written is not necessarily relevant to how we run the country today.

      In fact, no government policy today is “anti-religious” and I know of no atheist organization that would support any “anti-religious” policies. We want a government that takes no position on religion, for or against it.

      “Btw, there is a Prayer Room in the US Capitol, a public building that was used for Christian worship services since the time it was built. Does that upset atheists? I sure hope it does.”

      Why do you hope something upsets atheists? That’s childish and petulant.

    • Worf

      Public does not mean anti-religious. American citizens are perfectly free to be and act religious in public. Preach on street corners if you want. But the government, its representatives, and its funds are not allowed to promote religion.

      “Btw, there is a Prayer Room in the US Capitol, a public building that was used for Christian worship services since the time it was built. Does that upset atheists? I sure hope it does.”

      No it does not upset me, and is irrelevant to the topic. Anybody who went to the prayer room was probably there specifically for christian service, and were therefore not unwilling or captive.

      The superintendent that gave this distinctly christian speech was acting as a representative of public schools, and therefore of the government. He used that position to preach his personal religion to a captive audience, which is most certainly not allowed. The students, not all of whom are christian, went to graduation to celebrate their academic success. Not to be preached to.

      There are plenty of ways to give a great graduation speech without religion. Legality aside, it was rude and aggressive to use that podium to push his religion on the culturally diverse and captive student body.

      ‘Everson v. Board of Education (1947)’ and ‘McCollum v. Board of Education (1948)’ are both relevant to the situation.

      • Jason Todd

        The superintendent that gave this distinctly christian speech was acting as a representative of public schools, and therefore of the government. He used that position to preach his personal religion to a captive audience, which is most certainly not allowed.

        See: Constitution, United States. First Amendment.

        There are plenty of ways to give a great graduation speech without religion. It was wrong and very rude of him to use that podium to push his religion on the culturally diverse and captive student body.

        He was welcome to say whatever he pleased. Your open hatred for Christians and Christianity does not change that.

        ‘Everson v. Board of Education (1947)’ and ‘McCollum v. Board of Education (1948)’ are both relevant to the situation.

        Hardly. The Constitution says otherwise.

        • Worf

          “Hardly. The Constitution says otherwise.”

          Then you don’t understand our legal system.

          The Supreme Court is given the duty to interpret and set precedent on constitutional law. ‘Everson v. Board of Education’ and ‘McCollum v. Board of Education’ were cases that set precedents on the relationship between government and religion. Only the Supreme Court can overturn these rulings.

          What the Constitution “says” is interpreted by SCOTUS. How they decide to rule determines as constitutional law, and can only be reversed by another SC ruling.

          In Lee v. Weisman (1992):
          “The Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the offering of prayers by religious officials before voluntarily attending ceremonies such as graduation. Thus, the Court established that the state could not conduct religious exercises at public occasions even if attendance was not strictly compulsory.”

          Justice Kennedy created the coercion test which is used to determine the constitutionality in situations like this one:

          “The principle that government may accommodate the free exercise of religion does not supersede the fundamental limitations imposed by the Establishment Clause. It is beyond dispute that, at a minimum, the Constitution guarantees that government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise, or otherwise act in a way which “establishes a [state] religion or religious faith, or tends to do so.” 505 U.S. 577, 587.

          “As we have observed before, there are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools. Our decisions in [Engel] and [Abington] recognize, among other things, that prayer exercises in public schools carry a particular risk of indirect coercion. The concern may not be limited to the context of schools, but it is most pronounced there. What to most believers may seem nothing more than a reasonable request that the nonbeliever respect their religious practices, in a school context may appear to the nonbeliever or dissenter to be an attempt to employ the machinery of the State to enforce a religious orthodoxy. 505 U.S. 577, 592”

          • Ambulance Chaser

            “Then you don’t understand our legal system.”

            He doesn’t. Willfully.

          • Jason Todd

            The Supreme Court is given the duty to interpret and set precedent on constitutional law. ‘Everson v. Board of Education’ and ‘McCollum v. Board of Education’ were cases that set precedents on the relationship between government and religion. Only the Supreme Court can overturn these rulings.

            Congress can also supercede the rulings with legislation. You know, checks and balances? It’s in the Constitution.

            What the Constitution “says” is interpreted by SCOTUS.

            Yes, that is their job. Not to legislate from the bench.

            The Constitution is quite clear in that religious speech was never meant to be abridged. It was some men in black robes who felt otherwise, and anti-Christian bigots such as yourself who have twisted things to try to completely remove God from the public square.

            Now, do you have anything else to say before I block you?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            You know, if you block everyone who disagrees with you, you’ll never learn anything.

          • Bacchus

            No one will learn anything from a bunch of bored old gays.

          • Parodyx

            What an interesting thing to say. You can determine people’s sexuality from a few words they post on a message forum?

          • Worf

            Block away, mon cheri.
            The tactic of plugging your ears and yelling “I CANT HEAR YOU!” over and over might be embarrassing and childish, but it is certainly an effective way to never hear things you are afraid to hear.

          • Jason Todd

            Actually, I get tired of anti-Christian bigots like you who continuously show their ignorance of the Constitution, or merely come in here to mock Christians just so they can feel better about themselves.

            The idea people like the aforementioned are somehow intellectually superior in any way is so arrogant and patently absurd the only reasonable solution is to silence your stupidity. Disqus gave us that option. I use it. I never have to hear from you hateful buffoons ever again.

            Bye.

          • Parodyx

            You have experts on the constitution, actual lawyers, and you tell THEM they are wrong, so…are you REALLY interested in discussion, or just being right?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Neither. If he wanted to be right, he’d listen to people who know this stuff better than he does.

          • Parodyx

            And what exactly does “block and run” accomplish anyway?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            It protects him from being put in danger of hearing something that might challenge his views.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Disqus gave us the option to block people so that we can avoid rude, nasty, or harassing comments. Not cogent, well-researched ideas that we would like to pretend don’t exist so that we don’t have to critically examine our own opinions.

            It’s sad that you’re so terrified of new, difficult ideas that you have to insulate yourself from them. And it’s even sadder that you’re so insecure about it that you have to hide behind this angry front you put up.

      • Bacchus

        I’m not going to debate serious issues with some Trekkie.

        Go play video games or whatever you people do to piddle away the time. Leave the serious issues to the adults.

        • Worf

          You childishly attack someone for liking a TV show, then proceed to call yourself an adult? Your self gratifying hypocrisy is quite telling.

          I addressed your comment, and provided evidence and citations for my arguments, as is customary in debates. You, rather than addressing any of my my points, immediately sunk to ad hominem attacks.

          Go pray or whatever you people do to piddle away the time. Leave the commenting to people that can hold a rational debate.

          • Sharon_at_home

            You realize you are lowering yourself to his low standards, right? You don’t usually talk like that to other people, Christian included.
            We have to keep our own standards from falling when we deal with someone with his limited views. If for no other reason than to show them the correct way to behave, right?
            I agree you addressed what he asked about (or stated) and that’s all you can do with some people. We know what they are like, so we should be prepared to put up with their attitudes and Try (big T) to help them understand something they obviously don’t, and just close the conversation rather than getting irritated so much (which I understand completely) our actions are reflections of theirs.
            This is why I encourage others to keep the golden rule, so we can have good discussions. It’s also why I talk to posters that I know have incredible patience when others are losing their arguments; It’s my way of telling others that read this post that we want to have good discussions, without casting stones or being rude. If someone can’t word their post without those things, I feel sorry for them.
            With Christians I get sad anyway if they are casting stones right from the beginning (especially). It’s not displaying Christian behaviour when they do that. And people have started to think all Christians are like they are and are either afraid or hateful to us because of those Christians.
            I hope you don’t mind my using this reply to help others understand what the majority of posters want when they come to comment boards. I do appreciate it. It started my morning off in a good way.
            I always appreciate the information you give us Worf, and I know others respect you too. Keep trying but don’t ever forget that some people will never change their minds, and don’t get stressed about it.
            I like to say: Blessings! at the end of my posts. 🙂

        • Sharon_at_home

          Aren’t you rude!
          Tell me do you always treat people so arrogantly?
          Are you an actual Christian?

  • Colin Rafferty

    This is horrible. Instead of celebrating the hard work that all these students have done, he chose instead to insult their religion. And the fact that he’s done this in the past doesn’t make it right, but makes it even more wrong.

    How would you feel if during your graduation, the head of your school district led a Muslim prayer? Sound good to you?

  • Laura

    why is it that only Christians have to apologize for our beliefs our prayer and for breathing yet Islam is accepted across this country without a thought as they right now have factions that exist only to murder and torture their way to dominance around the globe. I WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR SHARING THE WORD OF GOD OR OFFERING PRAYER maybe if we stop cowering and stand firm we would be more respected!

    • Parodyx

      If you don’t do it in the middle of the supermarket, why would you do it at a graduation ceremony?

      • Laura

        I do it when ever I feel the need and that includes the supermarket. If you wouldn’t scream down anothers opinion in the supermarket why would you do it at a ceremony As far as walking out quietly I was ok with that because it was their right and they were respectful but they were not going to do that until the outsiders influenced them.

        • Parodyx

          Situations like this are religion-free zones. They need to be. The students in attendance might be atheists or they might belong to other faiths, which is their right.

          • Laura

            I do not agreee. This nation was founded on Judeo christian laws It is the very foundation of our democracy. While we offer the freedom to express your choices of religion that does not give you the right to destroy the foundation of a nation. Be respectful and stand quietly as many have done for generations before this entitled generation began demanding the me me me no praying poli cies.

          • Parodyx

            The nation was in no way founded on Christian principles. Most of the founding fathers were deists. There is a time and a place for religion and a public graduation ceremony is not it.

          • Laura

            that is not true and all was was founded on religion . You can believe whatever you want but you have no right to force your belief on me either. Either leave or respectfully remain silent.

          • Parodyx

            The superintendent in this case is the person who should have elected to remain silent. This was not a religious service.

          • Michael Daugherty

            Your thought process is the same as a radical muslims’ when they believe to murder innocents of other religions because they do not demonstrate responsibility for their own religion. They knowingly break the law by murdering others because of their differences and you are knowingly defending a man that is breaking the law because he feels his religion is the “right” one. Laura you’re too old to be this kind of person. Life should have taught you a lesson by now that respecting each human being regardless of their faith is the most Christian thing you could do. Jesus demonstrates tolerance and scandalous love. You do not.

          • Laura

            you seem to be the intolerant one here I just said I respected all religions your problem is you respect none nor any one other than maybe yourself so save it. You are just an irrelevant troll

          • Michael Daugherty

            Nice name calling Laura. Let me guess, you voted for Trump as well. Misery loves company.

          • Michael Daugherty

            Laura you have 1553 comments, I have 8 literally (all coming from this article). Is the 1553 “fake news”? People of your age should not be calling others trolls when it seems what’s left of your life is spent inside the house “trolling” on the internet. Ask your Muslim friend to join the conversation on here…please.

          • Michael Daugherty

            That’s funny Laura I just realized I could look at your posts and your exactly who I thought you were. Too easy Laura.

          • Colin Rafferty

            I went to public school in the 70s and 80s, and in my 5th, 8th, and 12th grade graduations, we never had one prayer. And appropriately so, because there was no reason to exclude all the children who didn’t follow whatever particular religion a speaker would have gone with.

            No one is trying to stop you from practicing your religion. We are just asking you to not force us to also practice it.

            But you say we should stand quietly and respectfully. Would you do that if your children were asked to stand for a Muslim prayer at their graduation?

          • Laura

            so did I in CT and we did have prayer! At all of our local events as well.We also very proudly had military parades and respected each other which is not done today.

          • Colin Rafferty

            How exactly did you respect the non-Christian students? Did you sometimes have Jewish prayer, or Muslim prayer, or Hindu prayer? Or did they just have to suck it up?

          • Laura

            We actually did celebrate Jewish and even hinduism as well but I never knew a muslim until I was well out of school

          • Colin Rafferty

            That’s great! So maybe this graduation should have also had multi-religious prayers like yours, instead of only celebrating the majority religion at the expense of the minority.

          • Michael Daugherty

            What was the Muslim’s name? Have you had conversation with your “Muslim friend” about this situation. I bet he or she would be far more tolerant and respecting of the situation that you are.

          • Chet

            I’ll bet you would… And you would not complain aloud over it…

          • Colin Rafferty

            Sure I would complain about it. Why do you think I wouldn’t?

          • Chet

            Ever noted the consequences?

          • Colin Rafferty

            Yes, the poor snowflakes who want their religion in everything get all whiney and complain that if they can force everyone else to listen to their religion, they are being discriminated against.

            Oops, sorry, that’s Christians.

            No, I know of no examples here in the US where Muslims tried to insert their religion in government sponsored events. Do you have any examples?

          • Chet

            There’s no need of anyone to fear Christians, anywhere. The snowflakes choose to fear God rather than man even as they attempt to fulfill His Great Commission as found at Mark 16 and Matthew 28. The actual snowflakes are those so offended via a message of love and eternal consequences that they caterwaul and stop their ears and whine. These real snowflakes in no wise want to hear of one’s own personal accountability at life’s end… For what’s happening in the world of faith besides that of Christianity, you might want to watch the news to note a day and night difference in all things spiritual…

          • Colin Rafferty

            So you don’t have any reason to believe that I would say the same thing if it were a Muslim prayer. And you also have no examples of Muslims doing this, or retaliating against people who complain.

            What’s offensive is not the message of your religion, but your belief that it deserves a special place above all others in public life. It doesn’t.

          • Chet

            Christianity is no “religion”. Rather, it is all about one’s relationship with Holy God Almighty made exclusively possible via His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary. The only being, by the way, who died willingly so that all us sinners can have forgiveness and mercy for all our sins. Then, he arose from the dead and lives evermore. Know anything even remotely similar? No, for there is none other, which gives Christ preeminence above all others… Thus, His rightly deserved special place in the world…

          • Colin Rafferty

            That’s an excellent description of the Christian religion. And with some change in details, can describe many other religions like Judaism our Islam.

          • Chet

            Name one central figure in your realm of “religion” who willingly gave his own life for others. Then, name one who has the power to forgive man’s sins and even forget them afterwards? Then , name one who arose from the dead and lives evermore… I’ll wait…

          • Colin Rafferty

            Those are just minor details. Christianity is just another religion, and gets to be treated as such. The fact that you think it’s special just means that it’s your religion, not that it’s actually special.

          • Chet

            Minor details? Surely, you jest, Dude, as those attributes are indeed just a few traits that sets the Lord Jesus Christ apart from all other objects of worship. Not special, you say, “So then, every one of us shall give account of himself to God” Romans 14:12, Holy Bible… Who else declares such?

          • Colin Rafferty

            It just makes him different. Every religion has unique aspects to it, and Jesus is the mostly original bit of Christianity (though Horus worshippers might disagree).

            He’s special to you, and I respect that. But that doesn’t make him special to the world.

          • Chet

            Christ is indeed “special to the world” as He is its creator and sustainer. And it is Him with whom we all have to do, believe or no…

          • Colin Rafferty

            Oh I completely understand that this is the basic tenet of your religion. My point is that all religions have some form of deity that created the world, and (possibly different ones) to whom we all must worship. That’s what makes it a religion.

            It’s just that here, in the US, we don’t have the government choose one religion over the others. All are equal in the eyes of the law, and any may be followed, or none.

          • Chet

            Government, American or otherwise, will not change anything at the point of one’s death. There is but one mediator between Holy God and sinful man, the God-man, Christ Jesus, and those who die without Him suffer eternal loss in the region of the damned, the place identified as Hell… Respectfully, be sure to choose wisely, Sir… Out…

          • Colin Rafferty

            Every other religion also claims that it is special. And usually uses its own holy book to “prove” it. It’s just simplistic circular reasoning to say that the Bible is true because the Bible says so.

            Really, getting into the question of which is the “true” religion is about as meaningful as arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

          • Chet

            You’ve shown yourself bereft of logic and understanding concerning things spiritual. You have no meaningful answers to my points, but, rather, foolish nonsense as a supposed response. Remember, death comes unto all men, some sooner, some later, but all will experience it. You’ll find no relief, no saving grace, no forgiveness for your sins, no comfort and surely no eternal life in the prepared place for prepared people, Heaven. Should you continue on in your willful unbelief and mockery of the certain one with whom we all have to do, the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary, you’ll face Him as your judge as opposed to your Saviour and Friend… Choose wisely, Sir. Out…

          • Colin Rafferty

            You see mockery in my words because you see your religion as more special than all the others. I don’t mock. I simply don’t believe any of them, and treat them all the same.

          • Parodyx

            No problem. Appolonius of Tyana.

          • Chet

            “And as it is appointed unto men once to die; but after this, the judgment” Hebrews 9:27, Holy Bible…

          • Parodyx

            The Bible is perfect because it says so in the Bible.

          • Chet

            “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” Galatians 6:7, Holy Bible…No exceptions, so choose wisely whom and what you believe as it will determine your eternal abode, Heaven or Hell… Christ is the only answer…

          • Michael Daugherty

            Your understanding of our foundational existence as a country is ignorant. More importantly I can tell you that you do not understand the origin of Christianity. No…Christianity didn’t start with Jesus.

          • Chet

            There may indeed be a “religion” free zone but there is no zone that is free of God Almighty. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place; beholding the evil and the good” Proverbs 15:3, Holy Bible…

          • Parodyx

            Well then you should take it up with the government who feel otherwise.

          • Chet

            Nay, you should take it up with the Almighty who reigns supreme above all, period…

          • Parodyx

            The story is about an inappropriate Christian speech at a graduation. The government control this situation, not God.

          • Chet

            There’s no such thing as inappropriate Christian speech given under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the authority for such is found at the Great Commission, Matthew 28 and Mark 16, Holy Bible… God’s Word is not limited by time and space nor the ears of those who care not to receive it.

        • Colin Rafferty

          This was the students’ celebration, and this man ruined it for every single one that was not a follower of his particular religion.

          His job as a leader is to celebrate the students, not his own personal religion.

          • Laura

            wrong Many of those students were honored to hear the prayer. Prayer use to be expected at any and all graduations. It has only been in the last 8 years that there is this movement to remove God from the stage and we are fighting back more than ever before !

          • Colin Rafferty

            No, I am right. He ruined it for the children who were not of his religion. That’s why they asked him to apologize, and that’s why he did apologize.

            And yes, many students were happy to hear the prayer. In fact, probably the majority were. And they could have heard it anywhere else. But there was only one graduation, and the minority had it ruined.

            You should look to the Superintendent’s reaction to all this. He hadn’t realized that his actions were offensive, and was mortified to find out they were. He apologized sincerely and promised to not do it again.

          • Laura

            We have just as much right to hear that prayer as you do not to. The respectful thing 5to do is stand in silence period!

          • Chris

            Yes you do. So the answer is obvious. He says the prayer off campus and in his own time. No problem. Then everyone gets what they want.

          • Colin Rafferty

            You have every right to hear what you like. And people have every right to say what they like. But no one is guaranteed a platform on which to speak. And like any other job, you can be restricted for what you way.

            The respectful thing to do is to not marginalize the children who are trying to celebrate their graduation.

          • Sharon_at_home

            Colin, please, one single prayer is not going to ruin a whole celebration! It lasted what, 5 minutes. If people can’t listen to a man’s personal belief for 5 minutes? Even if it “ruined” the time while the prayer was said, if they just based their graduation of that one prayer instead of everything else, then they are a group of sad people.
            The prayer would not have been in any sense as request for conversion. It would not have demeaned anyone that was not a believer. It would have been about Thanking His God for helping the young people have victory in their academics. Is that really awful?
            Your comment about an Islamic prayer instead. If it was only about thanking Allah and how he helped the students graduate with nothing to encourage conversion or demeaning to others, yes I would not be bothered. I would hope it would not be the same every year at graduation, just as I know that this poor man who has been made to feel terrible for believing in the power of God to help the students. He’s been treated badly by a lot of people who have no compassion, and no tolerance.
            He was celebrating the students Colin. That is why he did a prayer. He believed that God (which Christians believe in) helped the students and thank him for it. He did not intend to offend anyone, he just wanted to tell the class that he was happy in the way he feels. What the heck is wrong with that? Should he have made a speech about what he doesn’t really feel? like: yeah wow those kids did a great job and the teachers were great and the textbooks really helped. Wow what a wonderful thing!
            If a person can’t speak from their heart while people tolerate it, for the small amount of time it takes, then what the heck is the world coming to? There is no reason for a short prayer to even offend anyone Colin. We have to be tolerant about all sorts of things we don’t like and don’t really want to hear, but we tolerate them. Everyone.
            Honestly, if one small prayer could ruin someone’s joy of graduation, they are looking for a reason to blame someone for it. Small things happen even without prayer that people have to forget about and go on with the ceremony all the time. They should have just ignored it once it was over if they did not agree with his feelings. Just like we do all the time in this world.
            I hope this gives you another view of it. If you can tell me exactly how the prayer ‘ruined’ it for everyone in a way that makes a difference to what I said, please do. But if it doesn’t give me a reason why they couldn’t tolerate it just like we do all the time. To me that is what the whole thing is about : Tolerance of people who are (feel) differently than them.
            Blessings Colin, I am looking forward to your reply because I know we can discuss this to have greater understanding of our differences, and not to argue and be arrogant with each other as others seem to want to do.

          • Colin Rafferty

            Here is the crux of our disagreement. This is what you imagine would be wrong for him to say: “those kids did a great job and the teachers were great and the textbooks really helped”.

            In fact, that was exactly what made these children succeed. They worked hard. Their teachers worked hard. As far as these kids are concerned, shifting credit from them to something that they don’t even think exists demeans all the effort that they personally have made.

            Just because someone is speaking from their heart, it doesn’t mean that it’s something that everyone wants to hear.

          • Sharon_at_home

            That’s right it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone wants to hear it, but it doesn’t take away his right to freely say what he feels. People say things all the time that people don’t like – look at how people feel about the things Trump says. They don’t like it but he still has the right to say it.
            Isn’t that what freedom of religion is about? it’s not like he was endorsing a religion, encouraging conversion, or being demeaning to others. And when he found out he had offended the 4 students, he apologized without delay. So it wasn’t intentional exclusion either.
            All he did was speak the words to a prayer.
            I was trying to point out that if the speech did not come from his heart it may not sound honest, – I was being facetious when I said that. I think they would expect more than a sentence for a speech after all, regardless of how true it is or not.
            What I read in the article sounded like it was only the 4 students who actually complained. The article gave the impression that others were happy with the prayer.
            So it’s better to offend a large number of people, rather than 4 people? really? And just because it’s a religion, not for any other reason. Wow that sounds totally unfair with those who want it being so much more than those who don’t. I don’t think it’s Tyranny to allow say, 90% people have a say in what they enjoyed, even if there are 4 dissenters. They could have easily closed their eyes and ears to it for the small length of time he would have been praying.
            You said that it was because of the tyranny of the higher religions that created the rule that the majority loses their rights for a few? I don’t understand how that works TBH because for me everyone should have the right to speak freely when they are speaking to a group. Certainly without demeaning, conversion or insisting that the 4 students believe what he was saying. It hurt no one unless they were intolerant.
            I just can’t agree with giving some people rights that take away from others. No matter what it is about, this is what that law does. It doesn’t matter if they can go to church or on the street corner because that is not what these speeches are about.
            Honestly Colin, when it was such a short thing, I think it’s silly to make such a fuss, especially when most people found it wonderful (according to the article).
            Besides, whether it was a Christian prayer or a Muslim prayer, as long as it is not demeaning to others, not asking for conversion, and not in any way insisting that you have to believe in their religion, I think it is not such a bad thing for people to know what other people do, religiously or in a secular way. It never hurts to learn new things. I don’t mind disagreeing with you because you won’t get angry with me because of it. Thank you for that. Have a good day, Colin.

          • Colin Rafferty

            > That’s right it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone wants to hear it, but it doesn’t take away his right to freely say what he feels.

            As an employee of the government, speaking at a work event, he does not actually have the right to say it. You know this. It is clear cut that it is illegal for him to say this at any school sponsored event. But I’m not even talking about the illegality of it, because the morality is wrong.

            As I said before, I think that everyone handled it very well after the fact. The students explained to him the problem, and asked for an apology and promise that he wouldn’t do it again. Once he realized how he had offended them and why, he seemed honestly mortified, and publicly apologized.

            If the superintendent of schools can’t find himself able to honestly say that the children and teachers and parents deserve all the credit, he should stay silent. And honestly, find a different career, because if it were the case that he truly believed it impossible for the students to succeed without Christ, he would have no place teaching non-Christians.

            And how would not mentioning Christ offend anyone? How would leaving Him out of a school event be offensive?

            And I’ll say it again, the minority should not be forced to suffer just because the majority enjoy something. Religion has no place in public school, because it is inherently divisive.

          • Sharon_at_home

            I know that is the Law Colin, but I find it hard to agree with it. To me it is all about tolerance for other people’s differences. Everyone has to at one time or another listen to a speech that they don’t agree with, but they don’t fuss, they tolerate it because it is someone else’s belief and we should respect that.

            “And how would not mentioning Christ offend anyone? How would leaving Him out of a school event be offensive?”
            That’s basically my question in reverse. How does mentioning Christ offend someone (especially if they don’t believe) How would letting one prayer be offensive to someone who doesn’t believe.

            Are they afraid that God is real and they don’t want to believe it because if there is no God, there won’t be Hell. ( I’ve heard this from somewhere, so I thought I’d ask)

            So how does it offend in this way?

            Looking forward to your reply, as always.

          • Colin Rafferty

            I had a very long reply to you to the exact same questions yesterday. It’s about who holds the power. To summarize, it is the responsibility of the majority to tolerate the minority, because the minority is ALWAYS having to tolerate the majority.

            And let me clear up something about atheists. We are quite certain that none of the gods exist. We don’t worry that they might. We are just as certain that the Christian God does not exist as you are certain that Zeus does not exist. I have no more worry about ending up in Hell than you do about ending up in Hades.

            If you didn’t notice my very long response to you yesterday, just look at my profile — the comment is right there.

          • Sharon_at_home

            I didn’t see it if I didn’t reply to it. You should know that about me. I think It’s above this one and I just read it.
            I know about the atheists, I wasn’t referring to them when I said that. I mentioned that it was something I’d heard and was asking. It was not Atheists that I was referring to, I didn’t even consider them (sorry) when I put that about Hell.
            Ok Colin, I’ll agree to what you have told me about majority vs minority. I can understand what you are saying about it.
            And I know that the States are very firm about religion and government buildings such as the schools.
            And even though it still sounds so wrong to me, I’ll leave it now. You’ve given me a great discussion and lots of information to think about, and I thank you for that.
            I enjoy our discussions because you don’t seem to get angry with me when I try to go against whatever, and just try to help me understand rather than being impatient. I really appreciate that about you too.
            Have a great day/night Colin. I’m sure we’ll be discussing something again soon!

          • Colin Rafferty

            I have always enjoyed our discussions. Sharon, you are open and honest and willing to listen to what people are saying.

            The reason I am on this website (and others) is because I honestly want to understand people who have very different views of the world from me. And also try to make these same people understand where I am coming from.

          • Sharon_at_home

            You are too kind Colin, I know I’m a pest with you sometimes. You are so patient with me. I bet you would be great with kids.

            I guess that’s close to what I’m here for. I came to read others thoughts and found out that people who claim to be Christian acting terribly and couldn’t keep myself from telling them that they weren’t acting like Christians. Now I guess it’s still the same, except I’ve made some good friends here and I will stand up for them. I’ve learned about the LGBT and about so much more from all of you.

            I can’t thank you enough for your help, it’s been just what I need most of the time! And your patience! you too are a good person and you are the same way: open and honest and you listen to other people, even when you disagree you still behave with patience.

            Have a Great day/night Colin. And know that I appreciate you too.

          • Bob Johnson

            “So how does it offend in this way?”

            I live in a very integrated community and just down the street is a Hindu temple. Every time we drove by with my niece in the car, she would scream that they worshipped false idols. How would she have reacted if the graduation ceremony had a prayer to Shiva?

            Lots of her fellow high school students are Hindu. They would have had no problem with the prayer. Can we expect my niece to sit quietly for 5 minutes or would it have ruined the whole event for her?

          • Sharon_at_home

            And you have not told her to stop screaming that yet?
            So you would like it if she stood up and screamed that if the Hindu’s did a speech?
            Don’t you think that’s kind of rude?
            TBH I still don’t understand because to me it isn’t polite, let alone reasonable to be rude to others views. If I don’t like them I don’t have a fit because I don’t, I allow them to have their point of view. It doesn’t affect me because I do not believe what they do, so I would sit it out, and wait for the next part of the program and totally forget about something that was against my belief and focus on enjoying the graduation. It is unreasonable to let something like that to ruin your whole evening, and if someone did let it ruin their whole evening, then it is their own fault for dwelling on it. The prayer did nothing to ruin it, and once it was over they should have put it aside.
            I still don’t understand the offense when they are able to ignore it if they want to. We do it every day – ignore things we don’t like or don’t want to hear.

          • Bob Johnson

            You are most certainly a better person than my niece. And I’ll agree with Ambulance Chaser that you are too good a person to hang out here. But I am happy that you do hang out with us.

            No, my niece and many like her can not ignore the prayer and move on to enjoy the rest of the ceremony. And according to US law they shouldn’t have to. US law has that separation thing, the government can not impose a religious view onto the public. The government and government run events can not show the least preference for one sect over another. This is what the Danbury Baptists where worried about.

          • Sharon_at_home

            Now you’ve made me blush again, Bob! You and AC are much too kind to me. I just want everyone to get along and I am trying to help people understand the Gospel. I’m not doing it for my own applause but it is really nice to be complimented on what I am trying to accomplish. It helps me to stay confident in what I am doing. You were very sweet to add to AC’s comment too.
            I understand about it – I can’t help feeling it was a silly thing to have such a fuss about, but I know I have to accept something that is the law anyway. I’ve given up on the argument and moving on to the next post that catches my eye.

            God bless Bob, have a wonderful day/night. And I look forward to having discussions with you.

          • Bob Johnson

            “I still don’t understand because to me it isn’t polite, let alone reasonable to be rude to others views.”

            I agree. And moreover, as we are seeing with many posters here politeness seems to be in short supply. On the other hand, people deserve politeness, not ideas – even mine. If someone makes a claim they need to back it up. No idea should be allowed to go unchallenged.

          • Sharon_at_home

            Actually Bob, I just ask them to be polite and they usually do treat me with respect. But many of them are angry about something in an article and are not really thinking about manners. I just remind them and they are up to it then. It really depends on how you approach them too. I am always polite and respectful to others so maybe that’s why they are the same to me.
            I try to understand what people are trying to say in their post without saying it clearly if I can. Otherwise I ask for help to understand.
            Bob, most of the guys I’ve talked to on here are reasonable and good people who have a problem with something here. An article is usually the origin.
            Thanks for your reply Bob. I do find that manners are on their way out in this society. They don’t seem to be taught as important any more. Sad, really sad is this world.
            God bless you Bob!

          • Bob Johnson

            As you and I lament the lack of politeness in today’s world, my lunchtime conversation turned to quotes from Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill. Maybe all these signs and portents are just the jaded view of ours. Reinforced by the journalistic axiom, “If it bleeds, it leads.” (Here I go again – questioning my view of the world. It must be the fault of Karl Popper.)

          • Michael Daugherty

            God is believed in by the majority of religions…Yes the same one and yes your mother and father and uneducated Sunday school teacher were incorrect. Here in Springfield, MO (Trump nation which I’m sure you’re apart of) if he so much uttered a “Muslim” prayer or demonstrated other than Christian, he would have been met out at the gates and probably need security to get him out. It is different and Sharon_at_home your redirection and rationalization of him breaking the law is feeble and belittling of each person who was uncomfortable.

          • Sharon_at_home

            And so your opinion says. I disagree.

            As long as the prayer was in English, not demeaning to anyone else, does not attempt conversion, and his honest way of telling the people graduating that he thinks they’ve done a fantastic job, how is it different that a Christian or anyone else to do the same thing?

            How is it different that someone insisting there isn’t a God to people who do believe there is? We don’t make as much of a fuss about that as they do about our faith. Ok, so the majority do not, and there are the complainers in everything.

            I thought it a bit funny that you think I’m an American. I have always identified myself as a Canadian, and have never hidden the fact in any way. If you had asked, instead of assuming I would have been happy to tell you.

            I ask you the same thing, how is a prayer going to make anyone any more uncomfortable than anything else said that is against what you feel? What exactly makes you uncomfortable about a prayer. If you don’t believe, you can ignore any reference to God. If it makes you uncomfortable, maybe you have to look hard at why you don’t believe because it is unsettling to you when someone just refers to God? If you seriously feel uncomfortable with the mention of God, it doesn’t sound like you are confident there isn’t one. If you believe there isn’t one, you wouldn’t care if others did believe.

            I certainly did not intend to belittle anyone and the article made it sound like 4 people complained, but the rest were ok with it.

            I think you are very arrogant to tell me that you are right and I am wrong, especially since you are commenting on one article.

            People have different views and we are allowed to have those, but I was discussing it with Colin because we have discussed other articles about this kind of thing, and we have good discussions without the demeaning and stone casting that defers the true discussion.

            I can appreciate that you have a different opinion, but I do not appreciate you trying to demean me, or your insult to my parents and a Sunday School teacher that I never had as a child. I became a Christian because I personally have a belief in Jesus. I am an adult and am just as capable as you are to decide what I want to believe and what I don’t. If you don’t like my view, fine, but discuss it – don’t be so arrogant about your self righteousness.

          • Michael Daugherty

            Your reply and perspective is missing the issue of the argument. I’m not the one telling you are wrong. I personally don’t care what you do because it doesn’t affect me one way or the other. The problem with your line of thinking is that the government (this country) has established a “right” and “wrong” way of approaching the situation. I’m not self righteous by stating he was in the wrong or your misguided thinking is incorrect because the letter of the law does it for me. I’m not sure what nationality has anything to do with this conversation…By the way I’ve served on many church staff and my family currently holds numerous positions within the church here locally. I do identify as Christian but do not identify with intolerance of other religions due to misinformation or lack of education of one’s own beliefs. 90% of the population here in this area believe what they believe because of what they are told each Sunday and Wednesday at church or by their parents. Most of them church staffers and goers alike. It’s always very evident to identify the people that have never really experienced life or questioned or doubted their beliefs in hopes of solidifying their faith. Sharon, why does the Bible copy stories and literary strategies from books prior to its existence in history? Wait…Cain and Able should be credited with the invention of the wheel because they used a wheel and they are essentially the first human beings created…? Do you know why there are 66 books in the Bible? Do you understand the political agenda of the Roman empire during the historical Jesus’ time here on earth? Why is it that Peter and James and those closest to Jesus (and himself) are actually Jews and not “Christians”? Why in Romans are “we” being told to keep our judgments to ourselves? Why is Paul negotiating and bickering between his churches and the family of Jesus? Why is the book of Mark the first gospel? I say all that to say that if you can’t see or understand why there is a problem with what he did as a Christian, you don’t truly understand the issues that face Christianity and humanity in today’s world. No one cares if it was 4 or 400 people offended. No one cares if you think what he did was standing up for his belief system or not. No one cares if you and I disagree about our positions and you think I’m a crazy person. Treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated with love as the foundation of it all. He is clearly in the wrong. Do not try to perpetrate intolerance as a position of only having conversation with Colin. Are you Christian? Colin are you Christian?

      • NCOriolesFan

        There is no law to stop anyone from praying in a supermarket, anywhere for that matter.

        • Parodyx

          Local legal experts appear to disagree with you.

    • james blue

      Do you have an example of a Muslim offering prayer at a high school graduation?

      • Chet

        If there was one offered you wouldn’t dare stop it…

  • http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com/ David Cary Hart

    “I didn’t intend to harm anyone” is irrelevant. The point is that harm was done. We do not have a state religion in this country and overt Christianism in a public setting makes others fell like, well … “others.” At a public school it is also blatantly illegal.

    • Luminous

      This puts control of society in the hands of ones who complain the loudest.

      When you hear something you don’t like – tough, get over it.
      That’s what adults in a diverse society do.

      If you hate Christians so much, go live in Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is illegal.

      Maybe they’ll invite you to a party on the roof.

      • Chris

        “This puts control of society in the hands of ones who complain the loudest.”

        No, it puts society in the hands of the constitution.

    • Jason Todd

      The point is that harm was done.

      What harm?

      We do not have a state religion in this country

      Not relevant.

      overt Christianism in a public setting makes others fell like, well … “others.”

      This is America. If you don’t like Christianity, pick another country.

      At a public school it is also blatantly illegal.

      Blatant hogwash.

  • Sharon_at_home

    You know what really turned me off this article? The fact that they
    are DEMANDING an apology. What ever happened to asking? Everyone seems
    to Demand what they want and I’m getting so tired of it! Did they think
    the Superintendent wouldn’t apologize if they asked him?
    Sorry I need to let that rant out. Blessings !

    • Colin Rafferty

      He had already insulted them by forcing them to listen to him discuss his religion when he should have been celebrating them instead. Imagine for one moment how you would feel if the head of your school district chose your graduation ceremony to ask your to join in praying that Allah will guide you.

      • Sharon_at_home

        You think like I do Colin. Put yourself in other peoples position to see what they feel about it. We try to make people realize that they should look at both sides of the picture before being judgmental.
        I don’t disagree with you, and I agree with the way you point out whether or not they themselves would like a similar circumstance.
        From the article there were FOUR students to complained. The rest were not offended and some even appreciated that he did it the way he did.
        Out of all those students 4 disagreed and want the whole thing not allowed even though the majority did not feel the same way. 4 people out of a graduating class that probably had 30 people in it. Should that few be able to make a change against the majority? IMO no that should not validate that things should be changed. And really, when you think of this situation, the ones that are complaining aren’t even IN the school anymore so it will make no difference to them. Meanwhile it might make a difference to next year students if they like that God is included in their graduation. A few dissenters should not be able to change something that was shown to be accepted more than rejected.
        It is the next graduates that should tell the superintendent that they prefer him not to pray, if the majority agree with that. Everything that changes should not be decided by such a minority of opinion, and in this case, maybe for each graduation.
        Also Colin, not everyone is offended by religion and it sounds like most of them did not feel uncomfortable or troubled by the prayer. I used to be uncomfortable with Gays because I didn’t understand them and everything I heard was about their anger and how people are not treating them right. I could have been one of those people – if I was like that – who thought gays should stay in the closet and because of that belief, I should go and complain that they shouldn’t come out just because I disagree? No, thank God I have learned from the gay community that they are in no way the way they are portrayed and are not uncomfortable with them anymore. Most people don’t have the ability to learn about the other side unless they have a connection to someone who can help them understand the gays better.
        It’s no different for anything people disagree with. If you don’t discuss things, then no one will ever see the other side in the first place, but they also won’t care why the others disagree. Everyone most often thinks what they think and won’t change their minds especially if someone demands that they do. They ‘dig in their feet’ to stand up for their own beliefs just because of that demand. While asking brings no defenses up and anger at the demand, and might even allow for discussion and understanding.
        I understand what you mean about How would you feel, but some people wouldn’t care. Whether it’s Allah or God it is a prayer that created the problem, not the religion itself. What difference who the prayer is to when it is about how wonderful God is for helping the graduates to be all who they can be. As long as it is given with love, not hate, it should be accepted. The people who hate Islam just for being different would never accept a prayer to Allah, regardless of how it was prayed, and obviously the ones who are Islam don’t want to hear a Christian prayer. But both have the right to have their beliefs.
        I just don’t know why the minority seem try to make it into a bigger issue than it is. If they would look around them to see that the majority didn’t mind like they did, maybe they’d be less demanding because there are more people involved than them. They are not the only ones involved and it should be looked at how the majority view it, not a few people.
        I can’t say I have the answers but personally I think, regardless of whether it is about religion or not, I just want to show my love for people and try to help the ones I can, whether it is to come to Jesus, or in another area altogether, I care about other people, even ones I disagree with. Nothing will affect my faith because it is a strong faith, so I can deal with others that don’t agree with it by knowing that for me, I have the faith to help me love them regardless of their opinions. It’s not always an easy thing, and people often don’t want anyone to help them. But it’s just the way I want to live.
        People who disagree with the way I live, should not be able to make me change. I certainly don’t demand everyone change to my views. I encourage it maybe, but I can’t demand it because I don’t believe in doing that. Jesus wants people to come to him willingly. Demanding just doesn’t come into play in that situation. When Love is used to deal with others, they are more likely to accept the help.
        Blessings Colin, always nice to discuss things with you.

        • Colin Rafferty

          The whole point of freedom of religion (or in general, any of our freedoms), is about the protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. In this case, it’s not a question of disliking religion, but about being forced to listen to someone else’s religion at what should be a celebration of the students.

          No one is looking to stop students from celebrating their religion. They just don’t want to be forced to celebrate with them. Like the other article about the valedictorian who was not allowed to pray at graduation, everyone was happy, because all the students had a non-religious graduation, and those that also wanted religion has a second ceremony off-campus let by parents. Everyone won.

          And not to put a fine point on it, but the students who were marginalized in their own graduation ceremony were showing unusual restraint. What the superintendent did was illegal. They could have sued him and won. Instead, they simply asked him for an apology and a promise to not do it again, which he gave.

          • Sharon_at_home

            No I’m sorry, I don’t accept that everyone won.
            The religious people had to go out of their way to create something that the students should have been allowed to have because of their own belief. Why should religious people have to do that? If the majority is religious, why can’t the non-believers create their own without religion? Either way someone loses the chance to graduate with their class in the way that makes them happy.
            I don’t believe everyone was happy with a non-religious ceremony Colin, because if they were, they wouldn’t have felt it necessary to create another graduation for the religious students at all. They felt ‘left out’ or they wouldn’t have needed another ceremony. Which ever way it is done, someone will feel like an outsider.
            They are stopping them from celebrating their religion if one person can’t say a prayer. One person saying a prayer should not be a problem period. One person. And the one that is most respected for his academic success is banned from expressing himself in a way that obviously was the way he wanted to. It’s in no way forcing them to “celebrate” their religion with them. There is no way it is forcing them to listen to his religious views in one prayer. Stopping one person’s prayer is petty. if the whole ceremony would have had prayer after prayer or scriptures or other religious additions, fine, but one prayer is just ridiculous to censor because it might offend someone. When he was finished with his prayer there would have been nothing else to ‘bother’ anyone else. What if he had just said the same thing without it being said like a prayer. What if he had spoken the same words without it sounding like a prayer. How is thanking his God wrong? How is telling people that he believes that God helped him with his victory? How is it wrong to say He believes in God at all? It was about HIM not everyone else, that is what that speech is supposed to be about: how HE accomplished his studies. Why shouldn’t he say he credits God because that is the way he feels. It’s the person’s personal way of speaking about how he managed to graduate with honors. He should be allowed to say whatever he wants because it is a personal speech, not one that is saying that everyone should Thank (his) God, but that he does. What the heck is wrong with that? Otherwise whatever he says is a lie because he honestly believes that God was involved in what he accomplished and anything else that replaces God in that case, is a lie. It isn’t giving an honest reason about how he feels. It’s telling them a lie that discounts how he feels – and that is what he is supposed to talk about, isn’t it? What he did himself to accomplish his honors. If he used God and wasn’t allowed to Thank him, then what? He should lie and say it was the great teachers and wow those text books were awesome. He did not feel those were what helped him so why should he not be honest with how he feels he accomplished that. I mean seriously Colin how can one persons prayer in a ceremony make it a bad graduation? Prayers are usually short at this kind of thing anyway. It would have taken less than 5 minutes probably, but it would ruin it for other people? No I’m sorry, I think those people should get a grip on reality that not everything is going to be to their liking in this world, and they should get used to it. We all have to. One prayer does not make people who don’t believe uncomfortable unless they are questioning their disbelief. If we can hold onto our faith in God, why can’t they hold on to their disbelief without infringing on the right to have ONE prayer in the ceremony.
            Freedom from Religion is about not being bullied not about saying a prayer. A prayer for something like that, would not be bullying in any way. So why was he censored from saying how he honestly felt? It may offend someone that he felt like that? I think that’s a too bad, kind of situation.
            I’m sorry Colin I think people are being petty about a lot of things these days. They can’t seem to compromise on anything. They can’t seem to accept that others think in a different way anymore. They want it their way or the “highway” and no allowances in any other direction. I don’t agree with it even when it is not about religion. People should be able to be honest when they are making a speech about who they thank for their success, and not have to say it is something that it isn’t.
            I would like to know how one prayer can be offensive, especially when it is about his victory, and has nothing to do with anyone else, other than listening to it – or plugging their ears to avoid it. It was a prayer about himself, not other people. I doubt very much that he was going to admonish anyone that did not say a prayer of thanks, he just wanted to say that he felt that way about it. Anyone can say something that offends some people, so does that mean we have to curb our honesty because we might offend someone that doesn’t like to hear OUR own honest feelings? I mean, seriously Colin. Shouldn’t there be some things that can be said only as a personal thing reflecting on themselves, without being censored? It’s really frustrating to watch happen. I don’t care what anyone says, they have censored us from talking about our personal views, not just about our religion. I know God wants us to tolerate these things but I don’t understand why society can’t tolerate that we have beliefs that are an integral part of our lives. How can we speak honestly without God if he is woven into our lives.
            TBH I would have told them to find someone else who doesn’t thank God to do the speech. I will not go against my beliefs because it might offend some. And I don’t ask others to go against their beliefs either. But choosing to listen, because everyone can block things out that they don’t want to hear, they should respect that persons offer of their own personal sense of how they accomplished what they did. I’m disappointed that they didn’t stand up for him, and tell them that it is his personal journey in school that he is speaking about and not theirs!
            Sorry for the rant, Colin. Thank you for the reply, and I’m sorry but I really am upset about the way Christians are treated a lot of the time. God bless you Colin, for trying to help me understand. I look forward to your reply, and I hope I haven’t upset you too.

          • Colin Rafferty

            > The religious people had to go out of their way to create something that the students should have been allowed to have because of their own belief. Why should religious people have to do that?

            Because public school is not a place for religion. The government is a secular institution, not a religious one. It is no more the responsibility of a public school to assist in a religious ceremony than it is to assist in a political rally.

            Let’s break it down in two ways, one where the school has a Christian ceremony, and the one where the school doesn’t:

            School has Christian ceremony:
            – Some minority students go to school ceremony and are marginalized by their own school
            – Some minority students skip their own school’s ceremony to not feel marginalized, and don’t celebrate with the school.
            – Majority students get the kind of ceremony they want. But they also miss some of their classmates who the school has chosen to marginalize enough to keep them away.

            School does not have Christian ceremony:
            – Majority students have two ceremonies, one which celebrates their achievements as students, doesn’t mention Christ, and is welcoming to all their classmates. And another that celebrates their Christianity, and is still welcoming to all.
            – Minority students get to go to a school ceremony that doesn’t marginalize them.

          • Sharon_at_home

            This prayer was not part of a religious ceremony so how is that pertinent?
            And you think that it is only because of religion that these people who don’t go to their own ceremonies? There are lots of reasons to not go to graduation, not just that.
            How would his prayer make anyone feel marginalized? If they don’t believe then can’t they ignore it since it is not a complete service but a small prayer?
            How does it make anyone feel like they are any less of a person? Or that one prayer could make them afraid of God or something?
            Can you help me understand that, Colin? I really don’t understand how people can feel like less of a person by hearing words they don’t agree with. It was not a prayer that says that people should only follow God, or anything. I didn’t notice if they actually told us what he said in the prayer, did they? I can’t imagine anyone in that position using a prayer to ostracize any one. So why would it make them feel anything but annoyance then tolerance? Is that not what society is teaching students anymore?
            Please help me understand!
            Thanks Colin. 🙂

          • Colin Rafferty

            > This prayer was not part of a religious ceremony so how is that pertinent?

            Asking everyone to stand and pray is a religious ceremony. The whole problem is that you are turning a secular school event into a religious ceremony.

            > There are lots of reasons to not go to graduation, not just that.

            Just because some people choose not to go to graduation, it’s still not okay to give them more reasons to feel marginalized at their own graduation.

            > How would his prayer make anyone feel marginalized?

            Here’s the definition of marginalize: “treat [a person] as insignificant or peripheral”. So the vast majority of people in your class are so happy that this is happening, and you are once again left out because of your religion. The speaker doesn’t even think about how this will effect non-members.

            “Everyone please rise for the prayer.” And now we add some peer pressure, because as a minority, you are going to feel exactly that pressure.

            > If they don’t believe then can’t they ignore it since it is not a complete service but a small prayer?

            They are literally being told that they didn’t do the work themselves, and they don’t deserve full credit for their work. The head of the school system is telling them this. Please ignore the head of the school system insulting you.

            > How does it make anyone feel like they are any less of a person? Or that one prayer could make them afraid of God or something?

            I gotta say, no one that doesn’t believe is afraid of God. They are tired of being told that they are nothing without him. That they can’t do things for themselves. That their way of life is wrong, because they don’t worship someone else’s God. That they are literally going to burn in torment for eternity, and they are unredeemable sinners.

            > Can you help me understand that, Colin?

            I am trying. Do you understand the concept of micro-aggressions? That any one little thing is nothing, but they add up all day every day, and can drive someone insane? If you don’t think “micro-aggressions” are real, you’ll never understand.

            Because every single day, all day, it’s just this one little thing. It’s just one little prayer, and can’t you just stand? Oh, you don’t want to stand, why can’t you be more polite? I know you don’t believe, but it’s so much more polite if you would stand. Or just listen quietly while everyone else is enjoying this. And all the time hearing directly or indirectly that the vast majority of your neighbors, at best, feel sorry for you. Or just ignore you because you are not like them. Or hate you because they think that atheists are evil.

            And now here you are, celebrating what you’ve been working on your entire life until now. And once again, here’s someone telling you that you’re wrong. Once again, someone who doesn’t even care about you will inject their beliefs, and ask why you’re not politely standing.

            > I really don’t understand how people can feel like less of a person by hearing words they don’t agree with. It was not a prayer that says that people should only follow God, or anything. I didn’t notice if they actually told us what he said in the prayer, did they?

            You should do what I do, which is google the name of the person involved in the story to get all the sides. He has an acronym of who is doing the work, which includes Savior. And asked everyone to rise in prayer. I don’t know the particular one, but I’ll bet it was not of everyone’s religion.

            > I can’t imagine anyone in that position using a prayer to ostracize any one.

            I know. That’s why I’m trying to explain how it feels. And he seemed sincerely unhappy when he realized he did ostracize them.

            > So why would it make them feel anything but annoyance then tolerance?

            Tolerance is what those with more power are supposed to show those with less power, not the other way around. The majority doesn’t need to be shown tolerance, because they can always just get what they want.

            > Is that not what society is teaching students anymore?

            Society is teaching students to stand up for their rights, and not sit back and let themselves be marginalized by those in power.

            I’d say those students were taught well.

          • Jason Todd

            Everyone can still win. We win by being able to pray, and the bigots win by keeping their mouths shut.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    These kids should get kicked out of the USA and shipped into North Korea their dystopia as they wish.

  • Michael Daugherty

    What a selfish and non-christian thing to do. Regardless of what your belief system is or whether or not you were offended is not the issue. The issue is that it is against the law and as a Christian your rights do not supersede the rights of other religions in the midwest or any other place in the world if truly genuine. It was cowardly and if he was so convicted of his Christian faith in that manner he should have done it each time he stepped onto the school grounds or any other graduation he attended. Instead he did it knowingly as a soon to be retired superintendent. Every Christian on here should stop being a small human being and a narrow minded individual.

    • Eric L

      Ped

  • NCOriolesFan

    The practice stopped after the complainers graduated.

  • Chet

    Aw poor snowflakes, get over it, no apology forthcoming as we ought to fear God rather than men…

    • Colin Rafferty

      He did apologize. Did you even read the article?

      • Chet

        Of necessity???

        • Colin Rafferty

          You clearly didn’t even read the article. He seemed genuinely distressed at having caused offense.

          • Parodyx

            Don’t you think you are being unreasonable, asking people to read the story before commenting? What fun is that?