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Arkansas school cancels graduation instead of prayer

Posted by on May. 8, 2013 at 11:23 PM
  • 76 Replies
1 mom liked this

The Riverside School district in Lake City,Arkansas, was given a choice. Either drop their illegal prayer from a graduation ceremony or face legal action. They went another route entirely. Rather than hold 6th grade graduation without a prayer, they'veopted out of the ceremony entirely.

The story itself isn't anything new or startling. One parent protested and called the ACLU. The ACLU told the school that leading prayers is, indeed, illegal at graduations, and there's plenty of precedent. Lots of parents and children are offended that their rights have been taken away. You know the routine.

From a certain perspective, there are a lot of good things happening here. It's great that this story is getting old. It's happening inKentuckyCaliforniaLouisianaRhode Island, and quite literally, all over the country. Students and parents have been emboldened by the victories of their predecessors, and they're standing up for the Constitution. They're insisting that public schools must be secular.

If the gay marriage controversy is any indicator, prayer in schools is a dead man walking. Less than 10 years ago, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to issue a marriage license. Today, 11 states allow same-sex marriage, and there's no reason to think it's going to stop here. Federally legalized gay marriage is just waiting for a favorable Congress. It's only a matter of time.

The same is probably true for the implementation of the wall of separation in schools. With all the legal precedent, and the transparency available to students via the internet, schools are simply not going to be able to hide illegal religious practices. School officials like those in Arkansas are acting like petulant children. It's as if they're saying, "If we can't play by our rules, we're going to take our ball and go home!" This isn't a position of power. It's a last-ditch attempt at holding power that's already been lost.

The talking points are getting old. A decade ago, claims of "religious oppression" carried a lot of weight. Today, many have had the time to consider things a little more carefully. Secularization is a protection of religious rights. It is the only protection of religious rights. We're beginning, as a nation, to remember what our founding fathers -- especially those who believed in god(s) -- were doing when they created a godless government. They were ensuring that nobody could force their religious beliefs on anyone else. That is religious freedom.

The Riverside School District's decision to cancel graduation is a win for secularization. Granted, it's not the best of all situations because there's no graduation. But there's also no illegal prayer in a graduation ceremony, and that's a win. In five years, there will be no long-lasting trauma from missing a grade school ceremony. There will, however, be a long-lasting impact on millions of other children, and for the better.

These school officials knew it was a losing battle to fight for the prayer, so they made things worse for everybody rather than simply following the law. The fact is, it's perfectly reasonable to have a graduation without a prayer. This is going to be a hard line to hold, even for the very religious: a once in a lifetime grade-school event versus a prayer everybody hears ten times a week anyway. If enough schools start cancelling graduation, someone's going to say, "Okay, folks. This is ridiculous. Let's just have graduation without prayer." And it'll be fine.

On one hand, it's sad that we've endured 30+ years of religious legislation under the Republichristian Party. Many people have suffered mightily, and we've taken some big steps backward in civil and personal rights. But perhaps there's a silver lining. Half of the difficulty this time around was that we forgot history. Those ancient tomes with their haughty language and indecipherable penmanship seem like they're part of another universe.

Next time around, however, it won't be so. Every word of this protracted debate has been preserved on a million servers. Every decision is there in print, electronic, and video format. There will be no overlooking the damage done by religious favoritism this time. It will be much more difficult to forget the thousands of hateful messages sent to Damon Fowler and Jessica Alquist. We will have video footage of angry Christians telling atheists to just get out of the country if they don't like it. If we ever need to visit this discussion again, the evidence will be clear.

Kudos to the Riverside School District. We know you don't like following the law, but you're doing it. And good for you for making children miss their graduation. In another 30 years or so, you're going to be the poster children for religious intolerance, in the same way that your parents were the poster children for racial intolerance. Your querulous, cantankerous, pouting refusal to be inclusive is being preserved for posterity. Step up to the camera, and smile. Everybody's watching.

http://www.examiner.com/article/arkansas-school-cancels-graduation-instead-of-prayer

by on May. 8, 2013 at 11:23 PM
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Replies (1-10):
parentalrights1
by on May. 8, 2013 at 11:26 PM
5 moms liked this
I've seen people saying that the nonchristians should have just shut up and done what the majority wanted

People are so damn stupid it should be illegal
tooptimistic
by Kelly on May. 8, 2013 at 11:48 PM
7 moms liked this

It would be a different issue if a student giving a speech thanked God.

The school knows they are stepping over the line.  Its why schools should just stick to education, not religion or social issues. 

It says so much they won't put the needs of the children first.  Why can't they have a graduation without prayer?

parentalrights1
by on May. 8, 2013 at 11:58 PM
4 moms liked this
Because Christianity is the one true religion and should be practiced and acknowledged in every setting and the nonchristians heathens need to accept it and just convert or else just shut up and let the good christians have their power and privilage


Quoting tooptimistic:

It would be a different issue if a student giving a speech thanked God.

The school knows they are stepping over the line.  Its why schools should just stick to education, not religion or social issues. 

It says so much they won't put the needs of the children first.  Why can't they have a graduation without prayer?


tooptimistic
by Kelly on May. 9, 2013 at 12:02 AM

Schools all across America who have a majority of Christian students and faculty will have gradutions without a school official saying a prayer.    I am not sure if that's the issue.

I think there are a few people who are just trying to make a point because the ACLU got involed.


Quoting parentalrights1:

Because Christianity is the one true religion and should be practiced and acknowledged in every setting and the nonchristians heathens need to accept it and just convert or else just shut up and let the good christians have their power and privilage


Quoting tooptimistic:

It would be a different issue if a student giving a speech thanked God.

The school knows they are stepping over the line.  Its why schools should just stick to education, not religion or social issues. 

It says so much they won't put the needs of the children first.  Why can't they have a graduation without prayer?




parentalrights1
by on May. 9, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Yeah it's just a tantrum and they want to show they have the bigger dick


Quoting tooptimistic:

Schools all across America who have a majority of Christian students and faculty will have gradutions without a school official saying a prayer.    I am not sure if that's the issue.

I think there are a few people who are just trying to make a point because the ACLU got involed.



Quoting parentalrights1:

Because Christianity is the one true religion and should be practiced and acknowledged in every setting and the nonchristians heathens need to accept it and just convert or else just shut up and let the good christians have their power and privilage





Quoting tooptimistic:

It would be a different issue if a student giving a speech thanked God.

The school knows they are stepping over the line.  Its why schools should just stick to education, not religion or social issues. 

It says so much they won't put the needs of the children first.  Why can't they have a graduation without prayer?







tooptimistic
by Kelly on May. 9, 2013 at 12:07 AM
1 mom liked this

LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT)- The Riverside School district has decided not to have a 6th grade graduation this year after a parent protested against prayer during the ceremony.

Sixth grade parent Kelly Adams said saying a prayer at graduation has never been an issue before which is why a lot of parents are very upset.

"As Christians and a mainly Christian town I think, there were a lot of people hurt that our rights were taken away," Adams said.

"My daughter graduated last year from 6th grade and my son is graduating this year from 6th grade, and we had a pastor open our ceremony and my daughter actually closed the ceremony in prayer," she said. 

The school district decided to cancel the graduation ceremony after one parent came out and protested the prayer. 

"A lot of people were upset, a lot of the moms were really upset and I was very upset," Adams said.

"We just went to take a stand for God because we felt like out rights were taken away."

Adams said the school received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union regarding the graduation ceremony.

"I realize they have rights too but you can't take rights away from one group and give it to another," she said.

Adams said she believes the school district made the best decision they could at the time so the parents decided to take action.  

"A lot of the parents, the Christian parents decided to get together and do it at the church," she said.

Adams said some of the parents are meeting Thursday to discuss which church will host the ceremony and to re-plan graduation.

"We are including everyone, everyone is invited, we want everyone to come and be a part of it," she said. 

Adams said it's important to have a ceremony to recognize students for their achievements.

"We're not trying to be pushy or ugly to anybody, we just want them to know there is a God who loves them," she said.

We reached out to superintendent Tommy Knight with Riverside School and said he was advised not to comment at this time





It looks like they found a way around the ACLU.  They made it a private event at a Chuch.

Arroree
by Ruby Member on May. 9, 2013 at 12:12 AM
2 moms liked this

This.


Quoting tooptimistic:

It says so much they won't put the needs of the children first.  Why can't they have a graduation without prayer?



jllcali
by LoyalAndCute on May. 9, 2013 at 12:18 AM
5 moms liked this
Blech.

While I think 6th grade graduation ceremonies are silly, cancelling one because you won't get away with breaking the law is a dick move.
DestinyHLewis
by Destiny on May. 9, 2013 at 12:27 AM
8 moms liked this

I know this comment isn't going to go over well, but this is how I feel. Regardless of the prayer issue? I think 6th grade graduations are a joke and should be cancelled all together. You can include any other "graduation" ceremony that isn't Highschool or college. I find them all ridiculous. What is there to look forward to or celebrate when they have lost value by doing them from childhood? I do not believe a public school should be allowed to conduct a prayer, a moment of silence would be appropriate for anyone. However, I find the entire practice of these pseudo graduations insane. 

Healthystart30
by Silver Member on May. 9, 2013 at 12:28 AM
1 mom liked this
All these adults are acting like toddlers! The children should come first, every child! Including the non Christians that shouldn't have to sit through a prayer at a public school! I feel like its such a dick move to move this to a church! Why couldn't the school have had the graduation and afterwards the Christians could have gone and prayed at church? Why do some Christians not realize how foolish they look to the rest of us?
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