Faithful Politics

Being faithful with our politics, not political with our faith.

Convocation Quandary

With the onset of spring, graduation season is here.  Every year this seems to bring up the controversy of school prayers, especially in the context of the graduation ceremony.  Is faith a significant enough part of society for these to be continued, or should state sponsored events such as graduations be kept separate from religious prayers?

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  1. A few years ago my immediate response would have been, “YES, prayer belongs in schools!” However, now I do believe in a healthy separation of church and state. I do not hold the state responsible for the religious upbringing of my children. I believe that as Godly, Christian parents the role of True religious exposure belongs to us and should be done in the home.

    That being said…are private evangelical colleges and universities considered to be state sponsored in their graduation ceremonies? If they are, then by all means prayer and faith should be an integral part of the celebration.

  2. This is a matter of conflict between the cliams of the state to be neutral and the right of individuals to free speech. The state wants to be non-sectarian but it goes too far when it prohibits individuals from speaking their views. If the school required students to affirm belief in the Trinity in order to graduate, it would be promoting an establishment of religion. If it tells a student not to pray in the name of Jesus, it is stifling free speech. (It is worse if the school permits a non-sectarian prayer–such a prayer becomes the kind that might be prayed by a Muslim–it ends up promoting a certain understanding of God over other understandings of God when it does this. The best thing is to allow prayers and whoever is called on to pray be allowed to pray as he or she wishes. If the prayer does not line up with my religious beliefs, well, then I live in a religiously diverse society and must accept it.)

    If the school squelches any mention of God, including a prayer, it has trampled on an individual’s free speech rights. In this case free speech rights should predominate. No one thinks the school is promoting Christianity if the class Valedictorian prays in Jesus’ name. They think the class valedictorian is a Christian. In a diverse society some people are going to be Christians, and others not. Our mutual responsibility to one another is to accept one another’s differences, and accept the possibility that I might hear a prayer or statement of belief in a public venue that I do not agree with. That is what mature people do.

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