A public school in Arkansas has cancelled a grade school graduation ceremony after a parent requested that prayers not be said during the event. Riverside school district decided to pull the plug on the ceremony rather than make it a non-religious one. Now, Christian parents are whining about the cancellation and are claiming that their rights have been violated.
One parent, Kelly Adams, told ABC’s KAIT TV 8 that,
“As Christians and a mainly Christian town I think, there were a lot of people hurt that our rights were taken away. 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. A lot of people were upset, a lot of the moms were really upset and I was very upset.”
So now instead of a graduation ceremony in a public school where separation of church and state should be observed, Adams and other Christian parents have decided to hold the event in a church and apparently everyone is invited to be indoctrinated or persecuted.
“We just went to take a stand for God because we felt like out rights were taken away,” Adams said. “A lot of the parents, the Christian parents decided to get together and do it at the church. We are including everyone, everyone is invited, we want everyone to come and be a part of it. We’re not trying to be pushy or ugly to anybody, we just want them to know there is a God who loves them.”
Here’s the video:
See what Adams said right there at the end? First they want to hold the ceremony at a Christian church. And if that’s not enough of a violation of religious freedom, the Christian parents are inviting the non-believers to the ceremony to show them that “there is a God who loves them.” How is that not persecution? How is that not an attempt to indoctrinate? This is why religion is prohibited in public schools in the first place. Not every student practices the same beliefs, nor does every parent. While individual students are allowed to practice their beliefs in school clubs or quietly to themselves, classes and public events such as graduations are better off without religion so as to avoid violating the religious rights of any individual. Christian parents are claiming that their rights were taken away because one parent protested against prayer. That’s simply not the case. If the school had been courageous enough to eliminate prayer from the event, it wouldn’t have changed much. Each student would have participated normally in the ceremony and no beliefs would have been trampled on in the process since prayer and religious speech belongs in church and not in schools. Prayer is certainly not necessary in a graduation ceremony. It’s a celebration of academic achievement after all, not a worship service. Likewise, graduation is not a religious event unless it’s at a private religious-run school. But at a public school where students of many different beliefs attend, observing a certain religion is far more likely to offend. Christians are free to practice their beliefs in church and in their own homes as are atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and Jews. But bringing a Christian pastor to a school event and delivering Christian prayers directly ostracizes any parent or student who doesn’t share those beliefs. The true people being persecuted in Arkansas is the parent and student who did not want to be subjected to Christian beliefs during what is supposed to be a secular event for all. Now they’re forced to either sit through what will be a Christian ceremony in a church or not be part the graduation at all.