Grade school graduation canceled following prayer controversy

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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."

Written By: Veronica Smith
continue to source article at fox19.com

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  1. Nobody is taking your right to pray.
    The government, through the school, is forbidden from endorsing religion.
    Therefore, prayer, of any kind, cannot be a part of an official school function.
    Pray to whatever god you want. Just don’t make it a part of the school.

  2. There is a distinction between praying and forcing everyone to pray. Nobody can stop you from praying.

    It just plain rude, unconstitutional and also pointless to force others to pray to your diety. If it is not voluntary and heartfelt, it is not prayer.

    Have these twits never read the bible about the extreme resistance to praying to a god one does not serve? Why are they so surprised when people of other faiths (or no faith) object strongly too? Praying to the wrong god is a very wicked thing according to every religion.

  3. If you want to pray, by all means, do it. In silence. Or, better yet, in those buildings which are made specifically for that function. You know, churches. If it’s a mainly christian town, you’re bound to have one of those around somewhere.

    Really, I don’t think I’ll ever understand americans. I live in a country where, according to the census, 88% of the population are catholics (it’s decreasing slowly, thankfully) and no one gives a damn about not having prayer at schools, while the theory of evolution is pretty much treated as cientific truth by all but the eldest (and even those will only take offense when you point out to them that it contradicts the bible, and because they are either fully or functionally illiterate, no one cares about their opinions anyway). Someone proposes to legallize gay marriage? The law passes with minimal resistance. Someone proposes to legallize abortion? The law passes with only slightly bigger resistance. Makes me wonder if the trauma of the past catholic-fascist dictatorship was enough to make a nation with so many catholics so “blasé” about their own religion, and whatever happened to make americans so defensive about theirs.

    • In reply to #5 by A3Kr0n:

      The school cancelled graduation because one parent complained about the prayer? How can that not be taken as totally insane?

      Exactly – is the whole graduation process just one long prayer? If not, why not just do the meaningful bit.

    • In reply to #5 by A3Kr0n:

      The school cancelled graduation because one parent complained about the prayer? How can that not be taken as totally insane?

      The alternatives are for the administration to decide to break the law and allow prayer and be faced with legal action before or after, or to proceed with a prayer-less ceremony which would end up with (i) boycott (ii) walke-out (iii) protest/demonstration (iv) violation of the prohibition. It could turn into a lynching or a riot.

    • In reply to #5 by A3Kr0n:

      The school cancelled graduation because one parent complained about the prayer? How can that not be taken as totally insane?

      Well, it only takes one parent to file a lawsuit.

  4. There’s a whiff of taking the bat and the ball and going home here. Why on Earth should they cancel the graduation because one parent has complained about prayers? Everyone would have been a lot happier if they had simply held the graduation without prayers. Cancelling the whole thing sounds like petulance.

    • In reply to #7 by Macropus:

      Why on Earth should they cancel the graduation because one parent has complained about prayers?

      Well now they can have it in a church, and that’s even better. Of course everyone is welcome, though. =P

  5. 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.

    The SD had another choice here: continue the graduation ceremony without the prayer and follow the law. It seems as if they decided to make it an all-or-nothing situation in order to create a situation in which parents would get angered and blame someone other than the SD for the cancellation of the ceremony. The SD’s priority was not the children, but a political move to rally parents. They could have chosen to send the students off with well-wishes and a ceremony with positive quotes, handing out a certificate, serve punch and cake, etc. but they didn’t. The parent’s should rally to fire the any and all responsible. The district could lose a lot of money in lawsuits if these individual continue to bring prayer/religion into the schools.

    • Thank you for saving me the trouble of typing, QK; you expressed my thoughts precisely.

      In reply to #10 by QuestioningKat:

      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.

      The SD had another choice here: continue the graduation ceremony without the prayer a…

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

    Which rights were taken away?

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

    Get a tissue.

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

    You felt wrong

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

    You can’t actually do that.

    First off, why cancel it? Because there will be no prayer? Bullshit. Having it at the church is their way of excluding the kid with the angry parent. Sorry but this gets a big “Fucking Christianity!” from me.

    On the Riverside District School site it reads:

    It is the mission of the Riverside School District to educate all students in a safe environment that is accessible to each student. We will strive to provide a relevant and challenging curriculum that will promote higher level thinking skills, develop working skills in technology, and develop the skills to be a responsible citizen in an ever-changing world.

    Accessible to all Christian students according to the parents. Here is a good chance for some of that higher level learning, the world is changing.

  7. I see 2 problems here :

    • religion in schools : Religion has nothing to do with graduation, and so shouldn’t be part of it. The parent is absolutely right to point it out.

    • Canceling the graduation after just as single complaint : it’s ridiculous to cancel the graduation based on one complaint. They could have just skipped the prayer thing. Or they could have told the parent that they would look at alternatives for next year.

    Most parents are probably unhappy now because the graduation was cancelled, and will blame the parent who complained about it.

    It’s a form of mass punishment, which will result in peer pressure being applied to the parent who made the complaint, ensuring that this parent will not speak up next time. That’s exactly how critical questioning was punished when I went to school.

    Seems it works just as well on parents.

    • In reply to #15 by kenny77:

      I see 2 problems here :

      religion in schools : Religion has nothing to do with graduation, and so shouldn’t be part of it. The parent is absolutely right to point it out.
      Canceling the graduation after just as single complaint : it’s ridiculous to cancel the graduation based on one complaint. They…

      I like the peer pressure problem. I would feed off of that. The larger the group against me the more intensely I would accept the challenge. Winning an argument with a single person is almost not worth the effort, taking on the entire town, now that’s a victory you can be proud of. I dream of those opportunities. Bring it on!

  8. I don’t see why they cancelled it, wouldn’t a better option be to have the graduation and as part of it have a moment of silence and say “if you are religious, you may want to pray and thank God for the Graduates etc and if you are not, reflect on their hard work and achievement”

    I think this is an over reaction

  9. “There were a lot of people hurt that our rights were taken away.”

    No one is taking away your rights. You can pray all you want at home and in your religious circles. This is about equality: your “right to pray” at the graduation is trampling on the rights of non-Christians. If you actually cared about equality and rights of people you would recognize the rights of non-Christians and voluntarily leave out your prayers from common gatherings.

    “A lot of people were upset, a lot of the moms were really upset and I was very upset.”

    Ah, so much upset. Tough. Personally, I find it somewhat upsetting that attempts to take into consideration the rights of everyone and uphold equality makes people upset.

  10. I’m not so sure this was all because one parent complained to the school. Had it been, they would have probably just carried on. This:

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

    probably means one parent complained to the ACLU and the ACLU then wrote a letter to the school, telling them what they are doing is illegal. The school then panicked. I’d like to see that letter.

    The next sentence is a beauty too:

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

  11. Re-posting this:

    We can already hear the famous Christian refrain to this: “Why are they persecuting us?!”

    Forget the fact that, in the US, Christians have their god on some of the monetary bills. Forget the fact that the president is sworn in with a “…so help me God” as part of his or her oath. Forget the fact the so much of the nation’s political and other civil ceremonies are often opened and often closed with a Christian prayer. Forget, therefore, the fact that the Christian belief takes center stage in so much of the country’s culture. Forget all that. What Christians really want to know is: “Why are they persecuting us?!”

    Well, if that is what persecution looks like, I’d like to know what privilege is!

    And Roedy, above, is right. Nobody can stop you from praying anymore than they can stop you from thinking to yourself. All the Christians have to do is think “Thank you God for all you’ve done for me and my family” quietly. But no. They have to drag in a pastor (and probably hand him or her a microphone) and proclaim to all present what a great guy God is. Why can’t they just sit there and thank Him through the power of silent and private prayer — after all, being omniscient and omnipresent, God hardly needs a microphone and a ostentatiously public pronouncement in order to here ones prayer, or does He?

    The God of the Bible must be one insecure guy. And so are these Christians. The apple….the tree.

  12. Sensible result. Victory for secularism. School board looks petty. God bothering parents go to church to mumble the proscribed inanities to their god.

    What I find a little strange is this American obsession with graduation ceremonies. In the UK, only Universities have them.

    • In reply to #21 by Philoctetes:

      Sensible result. Victory for secularism. School board looks petty. God bothering parents go to church to mumble the proscribed inanities to their god.

      What I find a little strange is this American obsession with graduation ceremonies. In the UK, only Universities have them.

      In Canada, we have a grad at the high school level. I did not attend mine nor my Uni or College one’s either. I’m not one for rituals of any kind, doesn’t seem to have any real affect on whether I learned the material or not.

  13. Children spend less than 15% of each school year at school. They can hang onto any superstition they like as loud as they want in the other 85%.

    The goals of education are to eliminate ignorance, not to institutionalize it.

  14. “As Christians and a mainly Christian town I think, there were a lot of people hurt that our rights were taken away”

    Er, didn’t the Constitution do that? The one written by the people for the people?

  15. Your feelings mean nothing. The FACT is schools are not to be endorsing religion but giving an education. So take your feelings and shove them in your rear and keep your prayer at home and church. Thanks.

  16. I would rather have seen this type of graduation cancelled because passing the sixth grade, while important, does not rise to the level of needing a graduation ceremony. It’s in the same category as having a graduation ceremony for kindergarten.
    The state really needs to step in and deal with its school administration, as they are too involved in creating animosity in the community and not committed enough to the civic education of the students.

  17. There is no right to public prayer in public school. The complaining parent is correct as this person is the one whose rights are being trampled. The school knew it was wrong and had to withdraw. The religious parents can go and conduct a religious graduation in their homes if they like.

  18. I found the comments on Fox19 kind of pathetic. “We just went to take a stand for God…” and “…we just want them to know there is a God who loves them.” Is this deity so weak and useless that he needs someone to take a stand for him???? Is he such a nonexistent absent deity that no one would know he even existed unless some housewives reminded us he exists????

  19. Why don’t all those Christian parents in town get together and have a religious graduation ceremony of their own? Why should they want to impose their religion on a secular event? Are they afraid their kids will suffer some kind of godly revenge if they don’t create an opportunity for prayer for every event? If so, their children are being manipulated and abused.

  20. Is it cruel to point out that you leave school and graduate from further education? Like the difference between pupils and students, one is taught the other learns, through a self directed process.

    At this rate they’ll have graduated 2-3 times before leaving the most basic education let alone starting to study.

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

    Why? Does the constitution say children celebrating their educational success must be afflicted with superstitious mumbo-jumbo, or is just the huffy religinuts taking their ball home if they can’t foul the other players with impunity during play?

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

    Grow up and get over it! Education is about maturing into an educated adult, not perpetuating infantile tantrums!

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

    Can I recommend standing in right-hand side the church doorway for a few hours – where all entering will pander to your delusions! Take a longer stand if you feel the need for one!

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