Monday, June 06, 2011

Jesus loves you. Everyone else? Well...

Medina Valley graduates hear prayers aplenty

The short version of the brouhaha is this: the parents of an agnostic senior filed suit in federal court here in San Antonio alleging that having student-led prayers to open and close graduation ceremonies was tantamount to state sponsorship of religion.  The initial court ruling agreed, barring the prayers in question and also forbidding any speakers from asking those in attendance to bow their heads or to say the word "amen."  For what it's worth, I think they were right about removing official school sanction of the prayers, but went too far with their attempts to forbid it altogether, as the First Amendment also  protects free expression of religion.  (And the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals seems to concur; according to the linked story, they have ruled that "it's not substantially likely the plaintiffs will be able to prove individual student prayers equate to school-sponsored prayer.")

The school seems to have danced neatly around the issue:

Representatives of the Medina Valley Independent School District have maintained they weren't violating the Constitution. The district did, however, remove the words “invocation” and “benediction” from the commencement program.
Instead, a student gave what were labeled opening remarks that began, “Those who wish, would you please pray with me?”

So far so good, right?  Well, here is where I part ways from the school and parents:
Parent Michael Ethridge, watching his daughter cross the stage, said he believes whole-heartedly in the separation of church and state. But he also supports the valedictorian.
"You don't trample on First Amendment rights to appease the separation of state and church,” he said. “These were her words. If the boy didn't want to hear it, don't listen or don't come. But he didn't become valedictorian.”
Corwyn Schultz, the student whose parents filed the suit, apparently had similar thoughts. He was not among the seniors crossing the stage. The Schultz family has declined to comment on the rulings.
So, basically, here we have a "good Christian" saying, essentially, that this other student isn't welcome at his own graduation because he doesn't share in the majority view.  Because he doesn't believe (or, perhaps, believes that it's impossible to know; agnosticism is funny like that), he doesn't belong.  Which attitude, I am pretty sure, is the entire fucking reason we have the concept of freedom of religion enshrined in our Constitution.  It's plain that the young Mr Schultz had his lack of welcome made perfectly clear to him, given his absence.
I'm not going to split hairs here.  These "Christians" should be ashamed of themselves.  This attitude is exactly why so many atheists are so combative.  Moreover, the self-congratulatory BS from (state) Rep. John Garza about "I thank God that all is well this evening and none of us will be thrown in jail" is absolute bullshit.  People, this is America.  Christians aren't persecuted here.  You're not risking jack shit by identifying with almost 80% of the people in this country, okay?

Also, this is so not the way to convert someone, if that's what you think God wants you to do.  Who's going to say "Man, these guys are such jackasses!  I've gotta become a part of that!"?

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