Questionable Motives

March 13, 2010

Should prayer be allowed in high school graduation ceremonies?

Filed under: Graduation,High School,Poll,prayer — tildeb @ 4:25 pm

Take the poll here.

You are even allowed to explain your vote in the comments section… if you have the courage of your convictions!


  1. As long as they allow for the prayer rituals of every single religion represented in the world… sure 🙂

    Who needs classes anyway.

    Comment by thebooreport — March 14, 2010 @ 6:04 pm | Reply

  2. Woops, my apologies. As soon as I sent that I realized I was using my own experience of everyday morning prayer ceremonies and forgetting the specific question asked about graduation ceremonies. I was thinking of the fact that at my high we used to have the morning “Prayers” in the school hall. We limited our prayers to those directed toward the Christian god, and so the muslims, the hindus, and student of every other faith (or non-faith) were excluded. I always thought how unfair that was…

    Anyhoo in answer to your question about graduation ceremonies, as long as they allow for the prayer rituals of every graduate, sure why not? :p

    Comment by thebooreport — March 14, 2010 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  3. The question should be “is prayer relevant to high school graduation ceremonies?”

    The answer is no – prayer, has nothing to do with education – and being educated is not a gift from god – it is a gift from the state to the people who inherit the state.

    Associating it with god, devalues education, and the achievements of the people who have qualified in their education – because it implies that the achievements being celebrated are to do with gods will – rather than the will of the child and the skill of their teachers.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 14, 2010 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  4. If prayer isn’t allowed in such a setting, especially by a student,then you “prohibit the free exercise” of religion. Still it isn’t as bad in the U.S.A. as it was in Babylon, where Daniel was thrown to the lions for praying.

    Comment by themysteryof — March 15, 2010 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  5. Nope, people are free to pray where they want – what we are talking about here is the expression of prayer publicly (i.e. vocally or otherwise). Sorry but I don’t want to listen your prayers anymore than you want to listen to my inner thoughts – your prayers are between you and your imaginary god – you do not need to vocalise them to me or anyone else, anymore than I need to vocalise my political opinion in such a situation.

    ‘My son would have passed his exams if the republicans had paid more money into the education system – rant rant rant’ – you wouldn’t want everyone to vocalise these views during an official ceremony, so why is religion any different – it isn’t, it is private and socially unacceptable for you to vocalise it during a celebration of achievement – and as I mentioned above, it is also offensive to me and others – so please do not do it, and think before you do do it in public in future.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 15, 2010 @ 6:52 pm | Reply

  6. Of course prayer should be permitted – God gave us life didn’t he silly kids! You still haven’t proven that you evolved from the ape, frog, or whatever else you feel you’ve come from. There is NO explanation except God – if you have one – please PROVE IT!

    This country was founded under Christianity and the US should have prayer in school – if you are from another country and don’t like it, then go home.

    Why should we have to give up what we believe in (GOD) for those that don’t? We are the Majority!!!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — March 16, 2010 @ 1:52 am | Reply

    • By “god gave us life” you mean “An unknown intelligence (whether it’s a solitary creature or a vast swarm is never addressed), with utterly unknown characteristics (mortal or immortal, sexual or asexual, plant or animal, physical or spiritual), whose home base is unknown, and whose ultimate origin is a mystery (evolved, created, or eternal), arrived on earth somehow (in a flying saucer, perhaps, or maybe on a comet), at some unspecified time (or several times), and then in some unspecified way (technological or magical), for unspecified reasons (boredom, or maybe cosmic fulfillment), did something (or maybe several things) to influence the genetic characteristics of some (but maybe not all) of the creatures on earth.”
      (Tip to the Sensuous Curmudgeon for that exacting definition.)

      That’s much less silly.

      Comment by tildeb — March 16, 2010 @ 2:46 am | Reply

    • This country was founded under Christianity and the US should have prayer in school – if you are from another country and don’t like it, then go home.

      Really? I don’t think so. To whit…

      Straight from the ever lucid fingertips of The Sensuous Curmudgeon comes this little reminder of actual history:

      CONSIDER Salem, Massachusetts in the 1690s — a small Puritan town about 16 miles north of Boston. Salem was, as you know, the site of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692-3. Wikipedia informs us, with our bold font added:

      The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings before local magistrates followed by county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex Counties of colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, with even more accused who were not formally pursued by the authorities. The two courts convicted twenty-nine people of the capital felony of witchcraft. Nineteen of the accused, fourteen women and five men, were hanged. One man (Giles Cory) who refused to enter a plea was crushed to death under heavy stones in an attempt to force him to do so. At least five more of the accused died in prison.

      Those were the good old days. None of that separation-of-church-and-state nonsense for those folks!

      Thirteen years later in nearby Boston, Benjamin Franklin was born. Quoting his Wikipedia entry:

      Franklin is credited as being foundational to the roots of American values and character, a marriage of the practical and democratic Puritan values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment.

      Franklin moved to Philadelphia at age 17, so our title contrasts that city, where Franklin achieved fame and fortune, with Salem, roughly 30 years earlier during the glory days of the witch trials. Two colonial American cities, not far apart in time or space — and yet they were worlds apart.

      Observe, dear reader, the high place that Franklin holds in American history, compared to that of Cotton Mather. Although he lived in neighboring Boston and wasn’t a judge or prosecutor at any witch trials, Mather was a principal influence on and is closely associated with the Salem proceedings. What is the cause of the vast chasm that separates the reputations of Franklin and Mather? Why is one man universally admired, while the other is someone most of us would cross the street to avoid?

      We’ve written before about the Enlightenment — particularly the Scottish Enlightenment, which (quoting from the linked article) “… asserted the fundamental importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority which could not be justified by reason.” The difference between Cotton Mather’s Salem and Ben Franklin’s Philadelphia was entirely due to the Enlightenment’s influence.

      Franklin’s life is as well-known as anyone’s in America. Try to imagine what his life would have been if he had lived 30 years earlier in Salem. Franklin was a bit of a rogue, and was reputed to be a womanizer. His writings weren’t what one would describe as pious in nature. The Wikipedia article on Franklin mentions one of his livelier works, which is used as the title for this collection of his essays: Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School.

      Franklin was also an important researcher into the nature of electricity. In addition to his theoretical work, his invention of the lightning rod was an extraordinary benefit to mankind. Had there been a Nobel Prize for physics in those days, he surely would have won it.

      How would Franklin have fared in Salem, had he been living there during the witchcraft mania? We’ll leave it to your judgment. According to a book review in the New York Times about Stealing God’s Thunder — Benjamin Franklin’s Lightning Rod and the Invention of America, By Philip Dray:

      The clergy turned a disapproving eye on Franklin’s great invention, the lightning rod. Who was he to disturb the instruments of divine wrath? Even Jean-Antoine Nollet, one of France’s foremost lightning researchers, warned that it was ”as impious to ward off Heaven’s lightnings as for a child to ward off the chastening rod of its father.”

      Franklin was amused. ”Surely the Thunder of Heaven is no more supernatural than the Rain, Hail or Sunshine of Heaven, against the Inconvenience of which we guard by Roofs & Shades without Scruple,” he wrote to a friend.

      Is there any doubt what would have been Franklin’s fate in old Salem? Think about it. And then think about what America might have been if the intellectual climate of Salem, not Philadelphia, had become that of the new nation.

      We can hear you now, saying: That’s all very nice, Curmudgeon, but what does this have to do with evolution and creationism?

      Our answer is simple. But first we must remind you: When we speak of creationists, bear in mind that there’s a big difference between someone: (a) who believes in a creator; and (b) who also believes in creationism. The former is likely to be a gentle soul and doesn’t concern us here. The latter is a “creationist,” who not only believes things for which there is no evidence, but who insists on beliefs that are contradicted by readily observable evidence, and who denies tested, well-supported scientific theories.

      The advocates of mandatory creationism in government schools have much more in common with Cotton Mather than they do with Ben Franklin. They have pre-Enlightenment intellects, and would fit right in if they were living in Salem during the 1690s. It’s their great misfortune to be born in a far better age than the one for which they are suited.

      We, who find it entirely congenial to live in the post-Enlightenment world, cannot allow ourselves to be dragged backwards by the intellectual descendants of the Salemites among us. Any compromise with such people is a huge step backwards. You know what they would do to you if they could.

      That is why there can be no middle course when dealing with creationists. No cease-fire agreements. No concessions. None, not ever — unless you want to nourish the spirit of Cotton Mather and Salem, so they can rise up to destroy the Enlightenment legacy of Ben Franklin’s Philadelphia.

      Comment by tildeb — March 16, 2010 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

      • Seriously Tildeb? Look again at how this country was founded – We’ve done this before and have gone through the constitution! You are too smart to be posting nonsense!

        Comment by 4amzgkids — March 18, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  7. “We are the Majority!!!”

    You keep using this excuse like it proves something… it is foolish.

    The majority once thought the earth was flat.

    The majority once thought the sun was god.

    The majority once thought the sun went around the earth.

    The majority in Germany and her allies thought that Hitler was right and allowed him to have power.

    What you also for get is the majority of scientists (that is people who have forgotten more about evolution than you actually know) agree with evolution.

    You have also changed the topic of the conversation – which is not about whether god exists, it is about whether it is socially acceptable for prayer to be included in educational ceremonies…

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — March 17, 2010 @ 11:56 am | Reply

  8. As a minister, I have to say that I actually don’t like it when there is prayer at a graduation ceremony, or any religion associated with state ran functions, for several reasons. To begin with, our nation was founded on Enlightenment ideals far more than Christian ideals, but either way, the countries founding fathers rightly believed that the State should not in anyway endorse any religion or establish any as the preferred or national religion, while simultaneously granting PERSONAL freedom to express oneself. That means that one can pray or read whatever one wants, even while attending a function or service ran by the state, BUT, the actual function itself should not in anyway display any kind of preference for any one religion or its practices.

    Continuing: the church has a terrible history of becoming the oppressors when given the chance to usurp or hold any kind of power; this flies in the face of the teaching of Jesus. We should just let it go, because we don’t need the temptation. As we’ve seen in the last 40 years, the quote-unquote “religious right” or “moral majority” has far too often ran roughshod over the rights of others, while simultaneously crying, “bias against Christianity!” We live in a democratic, free society; we have just as much protection and allowance as any other religion, and just as much space and time to practice it, even in public, as anyone else. Just because we are being asked to live by the same rules everyone else has to live by, does not mean we are being picked on unfairly. We should gladly accept the incredible freedoms we have to express ourselves, since it has never been this way, anywhere at any time in all of history. Again, we should give up our evil attempts to grasp power, because history proves that we just don’t do any good with it. Plus, grasping for power is, again, antithetical to the message and life of Jesus.

    Further: most other religions rightly DON’T want their practices put on display at a state-run function, and do you know why? Doing so would make those practices less sacred. Our fascination with christening America as a “Christian Nation” and arguing that it was founded on “Christian Principles” makes a mockery of the sacred teachings of Christ. Christ did not say, “Go to foreign lands, take it from the natives, and make it your own, using my name to justify it.” Nor did Christ say, “Overthrow governments to establish one in my name.” Or even, “Once you have established a Christian Government, do what is necessary to keep your interests number one in the world. Assassinate leaders that get in your way, and place puppet rulers in their place so that you can be guaranteed low prices and the ability to further your interests on the global stage- who cares if that ruler is a lunatic?” All of this sounds much more as if America was founded on the classic ideals of Empire- like the Roman Empire before, and so many others throughout time. Jesus’ life and teaching flew in the face of such practices. To attempt to have his name associated with such evil is the ultimate profanity.

    Comment by Cody Stauffer — July 2, 2010 @ 3:02 am | Reply

    • If more religious folk had a similar attitude to yours there would be far less antipathy and more social cohesion between believers and non believers. How truly refreshing to read your post.

      Comment by tildeb — July 2, 2010 @ 9:42 am | Reply

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