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. Deb Many

    "One Nation Under God"...sound familiar? But putting aside the "God" issue, First Baptist Church of Woodstock is a beautiful, jumbo large place to hold graduation and seat everyone comfortably and the parking is phenominal. I don't know of another venue in Cherokee County that could hold the amount of people, cars and traffic. Why do outside interests want to waste money in this bad economy on such matters. the money could be better spent on other things.

    January 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  2. CW

    @ at all that don't like the church hosting graduation,

    I say....TOUGH!!!! if you don't like it. There is no reason to discontinue this. If someone has a problem with it....THEN DON'T GO!!!! I'm so tired of liberals, non-believers, atheist, and the like trying to push their "we don't like this and we will sue" agenda. You say it infringes on you....I say not having it in a church infringes on me....like I said....TOUGH if you don't like it.

    January 24, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Steve the real one

      Strong words that ring true!

      January 24, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Frankly, as long as the church was used strictly as a building to host the event and was not used as an opportunity to proselytize ( at all ), as an atheist and parent, I would have no objection. On the other hand, any acknowledgment of the religion would be inappropriate. If the venue was offered for free then a serious thanks to the church would be in order. However, since it is a paid venue, it is just a building/service.
      So unless there is some history of religious context entering the event due to the location, I think this is much ado about nothing.

      BTW, few locals would object to this due to the likely ostracism that would follow.

      January 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  3. Commentator

    My public HS graduation was held in the chapel of a local Christian college. Nobody had any issues with it. I don't recall if anything was removed or covered. I doubt it. Anyway, they did it that way for many years because it held more people than our auditorium and was much nicer.

    January 24, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  4. del

    Leave them alone, liberal numbskulls. Safer place for a graduation than a rotten public school. That's what is great about this country, the right to choose, not dictated by socialist Obama liberalizaion dummies.

    January 22, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Reality


      Read the following very carefully:

      Saving Christians from the Resurrection Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      o p.168. by Ted Peters:

      "Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      January 23, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  5. Angel

    God is all around us always.He is in the grass that you walk in and the air that you breath.Let go of this hatred.He is the beginning and the end.Most of you will be cakking for him at the end of your life.This story has made me so sad.Such silliness.

    January 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  6. Greg

    This is an extremely large church, very centrally located in the county, probably the only building large enough to do the job without having to go to outside the county & pay through the nose.

    January 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  7. John R

    Looks like the 14 percent that should set down and shut up are on this comment page....

    January 22, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  8. Rejana Gamble


    January 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  9. Rejana Gamble


    January 22, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  10. Incredulous

    I was brought up catholic. I now have my own christian beliefs. I have a sister (and her family) who is jewish. No big deal.

    What kills me is we are so focused on these inane items, that we forget the freedoms we enjoy. Freedoms that exist no where else in the world. No where.

    It's time we pulled together and worked towards what is really important before we lose that freedom to other world powers (China – They coulld care less about your religion or if little Jimmy's self-esteem has been damaged.).

    We were born free. Let's keep it that way for many generations to come.

    January 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  11. Jessica

    It is against the law to have it in a church or any other religious place. Having to sit in a pew to get your diploma is BS

    January 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Why is it against the law? It has happened before!

      January 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  12. Confused

    I find it funny how so many people are upset about a graduation being held in a church. A church is not just a building, its a house of worship and it deserves respect. I understand everyone have their own opinion or beliefs. I'm a proud Christian and I respect every other religion. Its funny how this "church graduation" has caused an uproar. But what about those openly gay teachers who are teaching our children? What about those teachers who have piercings and tattoos all over their bodies???? We have an issue with a church but yet we allow such things in a school to be okay. I don't care who doesn't like it, I will always claim and praise GOD whether that's in a school, government building, or on a public bus. I think this issue is more about Christianity and God rather than a "church graduation". All these atheist comments are rude and disrespectful to every GOD believing person in this world. You don't have to serve GOD but don't tell me I shouldn't neither, nor should you argue against GOD. I think we need to return prayer back into our schools, maybe the world would be a better place. God bless you all...

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

      I am trying to reply again because CNN must not like one of the words I'm using:

      No one's telling you that you shouldn't serve your god. Where do you see people doing that? Is someone telling you not to go to church? Not to worship? No. Not all atheists are angry about this issue, just like not all Christians care that openly gay teachers are teaching their kids history or English or math. Don't make generalizations about my beliefs (or lack thereof) and I won't generalize about Christian beliefs, OK?

      January 22, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Reality

      Once a day WARNING for new commentators:

      • The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".

      • More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

      Sum Dude routinely updates the list of forbidden words/fragments.
      Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation

      January 23, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  13. rationalatheist

    Zon, very significant question and an important point about the ACLU.

    January 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  14. B

    I'm an atheist. My graduation (a long time ago!) was held in a church, in the north. My school still holds its graduations in a church. Jesus didn't rub off on me. I don't have a problem with the venue, as long as there isn't any proselytizing going on at any time. And no, I don't see having to look at a cross, or Christianity portrayed in a stained glass window or a Bible in a pew, all of which mean nothing to me personally, as proselytizing. However, if a minister or other rep of that church asked me to go to come to church or tried to hand me a Bible or if the audience was led in a Christian prayer during the graduation ceremony, that I would have a problem with.

    January 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)


      I agree that no one should be proselytizing there! I trust the leadership there to ensure It does not happen! The fire storm happened because the story contains the "C" word! Others seem not to tolerate that word or anything concerning faith at all

      January 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  15. Majority

    If that was too strident then let's focus on what's important –

    1) We have millions of people out of work in the US

    2) We have millions going hungry

    3) We have millions losing their home

    Let's stop this niggling crap and help those folks. If you live in Cherokee County and are soooo offended by them trying to be fiscally responsible, move to another place!

    January 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  16. wiseup

    Its all about money. if its the cheapest then they should do it. these are trying times so a little saving goes a long way

    January 22, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  17. BuddyKowalsk

    It didn't say specifically if the pastor would be presiding over the grad ceremony. If he isn't then I don't see a problem. If he is officiating in any way then it is a problem with the separation of church and state.

    January 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  18. Majority

    Never mind that the country was founded with Cristianity in mind....It is so tiresome to continually see our country pandering to the minority at the expense of the rest of us. If you don't like the fact that the ceremony is being held in a church, move to Iran and protest that they hold theirs in a Mosque. You would not last very long there

    January 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • B

      How old are you? Just curious. My grandfather used to say we were "pandering to the minority" when they got rid of Whites Only signs at restaurants.

      January 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Q

      Just for fun, count how many times "Christ" or "Christian" is found in the Declaration of Independence or the Const-itution. You might also notice that "Creator" and "Nature's God" are rather ambiguous terms...

      January 23, 2011 at 3:48 am |
  19. Zon

    It's crossing a line. It would not be an issue if it were held in the church's community hall and any reference to religion were removed. Additional questions would be: Is the church being paid for the use of the hall? Are church members participating in the event, even in the capacity of an usher? Is any religious symbol on display, including hymnals or church literature?

    This seems like a case of the majority, with influence in the governing process, forcing the minority to just go along. This is why the ACLU is important.

    January 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  20. Laurie

    As someone who lives in Cherokee County, and has a child attending middle school in Woodstock, Ga, I am very happy with the board's decision to continue holding graduations at First Baptist Church in Woodstock. Anyone who lives in this area knows that this venue is the largest within close proximity, and allows seniors to invite all their friends and family, without having the stress of only inviting a limited few to fit a smaller space. This whole issue was burdened upon our community by a group who does not live here, and wasted our resources and time trying to create a problem where none existed without even proposing a viable solution. I think this is an abuse of our legal system.

    January 22, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
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