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Prayer In School- Kentucky High School Shenanigan

The wonks over at Stop the ACLU are among a group of bloggers who are cheering over this story. I am not impressed by any of this. Let me set the scene:

"RUSSELL SPRINGS, Ky. (AP) - The senior class at a southern Kentucky high school gave their response Friday night to a federal judge's order banning prayer at commencement.

About 200 seniors stood during the principal's opening remarks and began reciting the Lord's Prayer, prompting a standing ovation from a standing-room only crowd at the Russell County High School gymnasium.

The thunderous applause drowned out the last part of the prayer.

The revival like atmosphere continued when senior Megan Chapman said in her opening remarks that God had guided her since childhood. Chapman was interrupted repeatedly by the cheering crowd as she urged her classmates to trust in God as they go through life.

The challenge made the graduation even better because it unified the senior class, Chapman said.

"It made the whole senior class come together as one and I think that's the best way to go out," said Chapman, who plans to attend the University of the Cumberlands with her twin sister Megan.

The graduation took place about 12 hours after a federal judge blocked the inclusion of prayer as part of Russell County High School's graduation ceremonies.

U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley granted a temporary restraining order sought by a student who didn't want prayer to be part of the graduation exercises at the south-central Kentucky school, about 110 miles southeast of Louisville.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed suit on behalf of the unidentified student on Tuesday.

ACLU attorney Lili Lutgens said she was pleased with the judge's order and "very proud of my client for standing up for the Constitution." Lutgens said prayer would be unconstitutional because it would endorse a specific religion and religious views.

"He did not feel that he should have to sit through government-sponsored prayer just to receive his diploma," Lutgens said of the student.

The student, through his attorney, had previously appealed to Russell County High principal Darren Gossage to cancel the prayer, a request Lutgens said the principal denied.

Keith Ellis, an assistant principal at Russell County High School, said the school has a long tradition of prayer at graduation, something that will change with the judge's ruling.

"It will definitely change what we've done in the past," Ellis said."

Ok. So what we have here is a student who asked that the legal separation of church and state be upheld and in response to the legal order to do so a group high school students rebelled. A rebellion that is being cheered by a number of bloggers.

I don't find it particularly interesting or unusual to see that high school students rebelled against authority. By itself it is not evidence of their having a deeper understanding of the issues or why they should take a particular stance. The fine superintendent of schools disagrees with me.
"Russell County School Superintendent Scott Pierce called himself a "person of faith" and said he was pleased with the response to the ruling by the senior class.

"This was a good learning process for them as far as how to handle things that come along in life," Pierce said. The response of the students showed an ability to be "critical thinkers."

"They exhibited what we've tried to accomplish in 12 years of education - they have the ability to make these compelling decisions on their own," Pierce said."
Sorry, I don't buy into that spin. That doesn't mean that I think that it is impossible for high school students to engage in critical thought, but without more support this comes across as simple rebellion.

Part of the reason why I am against prayer in public school is that it doesn't protect the minority. There is such a thing as tyranny of the masses. It is possible for the many to terrorize and oppress the few and it is UnAmerican to support that. Let's return to the article for a moment.
"Before the graduation ceremony, some students said they weren't upset with the classmate that brought the legal challenge, just disappointed that there wouldn't be a sanctioned prayer during the ceremony.

"There's no hard feelings toward him whatsoever. That was his opinion and it was something that he felt," graduating senior Mandy Chapman said.

Gabe McNeil said during a rehearsal on Thursday, other students booed the student suspected of filing the challenge when he walked across the stage.

"They've been giving him crap," McNeil said."
There may be a difference of opinion here, but it doesn't take any imagination to see that this student was unfairly and unreasonably attacked for their beliefs. They didn't do anything wrong. All they asked was that the law was upheld.

I am not impressed with the reactions of others in the blogosphere or in the story.
"A sign across the street from the high school at a garden center declared "We believe in prayer" in response to the judge's ruling.

"In our little town, we've always had that prayer at commencement," said Brenda Hadley, owner of Anna's Garden. "Why not? That's part of our everyday life."
People used to think that slavery was ok and that the earth was flat too.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I have arguements with family members about prayer in school. Especially my Mom. I try to explain that if we allow this for one group, than it has to be allowed for all groups.

I wrote a post about it sevral months ago. Public schools are the not the place for sanctioned prayers. No one is stopping individual students from praying.

Among some people it's almost sacriligous to say prayer shouldn't be allowed in schools.
Jack Steiner said…
It is one of those topics that just enrages some people.