What’s all the fuss about prayers at graduation ceremonies? I bet thousands of prayers were uttered earlier this month at the University of Michigan commencement in the Big House: parents giving thanks that their sons and daughters had finally graduated—and they wouldn’t be writing tuition checks anymore.
Of course, the issue isn’t about private prayer. It’s about public prayer. Spring is the season for graduation—and along with it the continuing controversy over prayers at public ceremonies.
For example, students at Greenwood High School in Indiana planned to recite a prayer at commencement later this month. The senior class valedictorian objected, filing a suit with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), according to newspaper accounts. The suit claims that the public prayer would violate the separation of church and state. U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker agrees, and issued an injunction against the prayer. The judge cited the so-called Establishment Clause as the reason. As quoted in the story, “the process in place permitting a student-led prayer at Greenwood High School represents a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, as does the delivery of a specific prayer set to occur as the result of that process during the upcoming 2010 graduation ceremony.”
Apparently, the students voted in favor of having a public prayer. But Judge Barker said that the school administration was clearly involved in making it happen, which amounts to government-sanctioned prayer.
Do you agree with the judge? Do you support prayers at public ceremonies like graduation? Are similar debates going on where you live?
The injunction Barker slapped on the prayer plans is a “preliminary injunction.” It intentionally leaves time for appeals and debates. So, add your voice about this issue!
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(Originally published at www.OurValues.org)