January 21st, 2011
04:04 PM ET

Georgia county's graduations to be held in a church

The Cherokee County, Georgia school board in voted unanimously Thursday to continue holding graduations at a church, with more than 200 people showing up for the vote.

For the past several years, all of North Georgia's Cherokee County high schools have held their graduations at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, but recently, a Washington, D.C.-based group threatened to sue the school district on the basis of separation of church and state.

Read the full story on WSBTV.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Georgia • Teens

soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. Dan Roberts

    If the people who live there don't have a problem with it, which they obviously don't, then it's not an advocacy group's or anyone else's business to interfere. If someone from that community came forward with a complaint, then everyone's concerns here would be validated, but being as no one has, and being that probably no one on here actually lives and pays taxes there, then I say leave well enough alone. We can't speak for those people.

    Worry about you, your families, and your own communities people. If the people there are okay with it, then we shouldn't be concerned.

    January 22, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  2. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Opposing using churches for any function, public or private, even when using public funds is un-American. But opposing the building of mosques on private property from private funds by private citizens is... patriotic?

    January 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
    • 425

      This person right here is SMART. Felt the need to point this out.

      January 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  3. k

    Oh who cares? I'm a Christian and if they held a graduation at a temple or something simply for the use of the space, I wouldn't care in the least. They aren't praying, it isn't a religious service, get over yourself people. My high school held graduation at a Lutheran College... is that a problem? Not so much.

    Unrelated to this, I've always wondered, technically atheism is a religion itself, so isn't the absence of anything else religious not separating their religious belief from state? Just a thought.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Zon

      Atheism is a belief, not a religion.

      January 22, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • B

      Atheism is not a religion. It simply means we don't believe in a god. I know Buddhists who are atheists.

      January 22, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • rationalatheist

      K, atheism its not legally recognized as a religion.

      January 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  4. tiabear

    Leave it alone!! Some schools are lucky to have their graduations in a building. They can't build anything. Nowadays they are lucky enough to keep their heads above water. It gets hot during celebrations like this. Its not like they are worshiping. They probably are renting it cheaply.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  5. Ken from Omaha

    How is this effecting the group in Washington DC. Pot stirrers is all they are. As soon as they start telling people what they can and can't do, that is when we no longer can call ourselves a "free" country. The group should be fined for unnecessarily attempting to divide the population. It should be be considered a hate crime to file lawsuits against someone or something that they have no direct interest in. The only purpose for filing the lawsuit that I can see is to make people angry.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • k

      You're right. They have no standing in this case.

      January 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  6. Tim

    A few thoughts.

    – Steve (the real one) amuses me (no sarcasm intended).

    – I am a “devout” Christian and have served twenty years in Christian ministry.

    – The fundamental problem here is that “The Church” itself has come to believe that “The Church” is the building, rather than the group of believers who worship in it. This being the case, it’s no wonder non-believers have come to believe the same thing and, therefore, have a problem using “The Church” to hold a public function in. Were the two sides to understand that under the theological principles of the Christian faith, this building is not a “church”, but simply a building, there’d probably not be much to debate.

    – Church buildings have been used as town meeting halls since North America first began to be populated by Europeans. In fact, they were one in the same. Often a town would simply build a building that was used by anybody in town who wanted to meet as a large group, including “The Church”.

    – If the schools are renting the church building, I can’t see ANY reason for the pastor of the church to even be present, let alone proselytizing. Hopefully this has been overstated and is not the case.

    – As this IS primarily a place bought and paid for by a group of Christian believers, but made available for use to the public, I do think it’s a bit much to expect the “owners” of the building to take down all symbols relating to their faith. After all, this is not a public building. It’s simply a building that has been made available to the public. If you are uncomfortable with those symbols being present then yes, this is probably not a good space to rent.

    – On one hand, I can understand the opposition’s point of view. While I would not be uncomfortable if my child’s graduation took place in a Mosque (well, with the lack of chairs I might be a LITTLE uncomfortable), I WOULD be uncomfortable if that graduation were held in a building set aside for Satanic worship. Double standard? Probably. But that’s how I feel so can somewhat empathize with the opposition’s point of view. I guess my question to the opposition would simply be; “What are you afraid of?” Do you believe that there is some sort of “power” in those Christian symbols? “Power” that might somehow infiltrate your children? Because to be honest with you, I don’t. As somebody has already stated, crosses don’t kill vampires. They’re just two pieces of wood glued (or nailed) together to represent a Christian belief. But they hold no power in and of themselves.

    – Finally, the ACLU is a lot like a union; a necessary evil.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      – Steve (the real one) amuses me (no sarcasm intended)
      In what way? I am not offended, just curious! Oh I agree the church are the people of God and not a building but commonly church is used to describe where believers meet!

      January 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Tim

      Steve (the real one),

      I guess the word "amused" is a little pretentious. I should have just said "LOL @ Steve (the real one)!" It appears that you may have been argumentative in past blogs (based on other's posts) but I've found you quite hilarious in this one. Good job keeping it civil but sarcastic. : ) I speak sarcasm fluently. : )

      And commonly used or not, it's still theologically incorrect and probably our fault.

      January 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Thanks Tim,

      You are correct. I have been involved in "circular arguments before ". Peace2all, called me out on it (in a very nice way). So I am trying not to argue! Thank you though and you are correct, church is the body of Christ and not any building!

      January 22, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Tim

      Should I assume by the lack of responses that everyone agrees with me? Awesome!

      January 22, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      I agree but according to the responses your only reader is me! LOL!! You are batting 1.000 (as far as I am concerned)!

      January 22, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Tim

      Doh! That's what I was afraid of!!! : ( *sniff*

      January 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  7. jj

    I don't see any problem with this, as long there is not preaching or prayers and as long as the students and faculty are fine with it then there is not any problem. I'm from a small school my class had only 40 students and we were only allowed to invite 10 people to gradation, its hard to pick who in your family can go and who can't. I think its cool that they can get a place thats large enough for everyone to come.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  8. Mark From Middle River

    Question to any Muslims out there or knowledgable of such. The question of the use of a mosque. Isn't it true that in mosque you have to remove your shoes and women... Even non-Muslims have to have their heads covered? Would such rules negate a Muslim mosque for such public use?

    January 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  9. Tam

    It's only a rented facility. From a good friend in Manitoba, Canada, I learned that the high schools hold their convocations in churches - whichever one has a large enough capacity for students and families. No big deal. No one will get converted in an afternoon. Sheesh.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  10. double standards

    Oh and one more thing.....some of us live in small towns for a reason.....we don't like dealing with the big city things that go on....so if you don't want to deal with the small town ways of living....move to the big city!!!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
  11. Loren

    The church seats 7500 people and charges $2800. The other contenders are the cobb energy center which seats only 2750 and costs $8125 and the verizon ampitheter seats 7000 but charges $14000. It would be INSANE to not have it in the church! If this group has such a problem with the venue then THEY should foot the bill!!! NOT the taxpayers!!!!!!!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga

      the tax payers ARE footing the bill.

      January 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • Loren

      They are footing a $2800 bill, per school, which would be MUCH more if this group got their way. Sorry that wasn't clear.

      January 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  12. double standards

    So, it's ok to shut down busy streets in New York for the Muslims to have prayer IN PUBLIC, but christian children can not have prayer in school or have their graduation in a church???? I think I see where the double standards are.

    January 22, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • B

      Let's get something straight if you're going to veer off into the "Christians can't pray in schools!" nonsense. That is complete rubbish. Christian children CAN pray in school. My friends' kids pray all the time in their public schools. They can pray as much as they want, to themselves (or god or whatever). What they cannot do is force non-Christians to be part of their prayer ceremonies.

      January 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  13. Bigbrotheriswatching

    Another fine example of creating a problem where there is no problem, if the members of the community don't have a problem with it then why should anyone else? Why should some pencil neck 1500 miles away care where a county in Georgia holds its graduations? I'm not pro church or against church but lets face it, when you're sitting at home tonight does it really have that much of an effect on your day to day kife if they graduate in a chuch instead of a smelly gymnasium?

    January 22, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • 425

      The irony of your name does not escape me.

      If Big Brother is watching, then he is also trying to control our thoughts. If your conspiracies were correct, which I'm not saying they are, shouldn't we be fighting for the right to freedom of thought and freedom from propaganda? Not just our own rights, but those of others?

      January 22, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  14. Just my thoughts

    With all of the real problems in the world, this political group needs to chill. If they had Christianity so much that they can't tolerate a graduation ceremony in a church, it says a lot more about them than the community. They need to stick to dealing with Washington DC's problems. They have enough to keep them busy for a very long time!

    January 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  15. Adela

    This is why our country is not a world leader in education. We need to concerned with why students are not graduating and the level of education.

    January 22, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  16. Jim

    In my opinion, regardless of belief, people are being too sensitive about this. So it's a church, what's the issue? People in this country need to stop complaining about everything, lest it end in our downfall. Furthermore, I do not believe objects of a religious nature should be covered up or removed, regardless of faith it is sacreligious.

    January 22, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  17. Whatever

    If the graduation for my children was held in a big mosque because that was the best venue, I'd attend and I'm a conservative Christian. Seems odd the anger and fury is coming from people who don't even believe in God so it's still just a building. Building's don't kill, buildings don't judge or criticize. If the mosque was about hate and suicide bombers, yes, I'd have an issue but if it was about love, building one another up, and treating others with kindness and respect, then bring on the ceremony. There are wingnuts on the left and the right.

    January 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  18. Leslie

    When did this start? I was a Cherokee High graduate in 2001 and it was held in the football stadium with either the auditorium or basketball court reserved as rainy day contingencies.

    January 22, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  19. David

    As always, conservative Christians are the bullies but try to act like the victim. I wonder if conservative Christians will ever live as they preach – do unto others . . .

    January 22, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • double standards

      Geez we christians are doing until other as done unto us: we are complaining just like you are!!! What only non christian people can voice their opinion??????? What your way is the only way??? We have rights in this country just like everyone else does. It's called Freedom of Religion but for some reason you don't think it applies to Christians.

      January 22, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • David

      I didn't say "Christians" because non-Fundamentalist Christians don't feel the need to force their opinion on others. But Fundamentalist (conservative) Christians do for the most part.

      As far as your religious freedom, you have all you like as long as you apply it to just yourself and not others. Have you EVER known of any non-Christian ever objecting to any Christian pursuing their religious freedom when no one else need to subjected to that Christian's beliefs or activities?

      My experience has been that Atheists tend to "do unto others" far more than conservative Christians do. Rather ironic, isn't it?

      January 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  20. Separate

    Wasn't the whole 'separation of church and state' issue by the founding fathers focused on not having laws that said you had to worship one way? It's not that they didn't believe in God, but instead most were religious in some way. Believing in a higher power is not wrong but there shouldn't be a law that says you have to. The whole thing about separation of church and state has been really twisted by people who don't chose to believe in a higher power.

    January 22, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.