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June 6th, 2011
04:07 PM ET

Following court ruling, Texas student prays at graduation

(CNN) - With the backing of a federal appeals court, a Texas student prayed from the podium of her high school graduation on Saturday.

"Whether you would like to join me or not, feel free to do as you see best," Angela Hildenbrand said shortly before she prayed at the Medina Valley High School graduation in Castroville, according to CNN San Antonio affiliate KSAT.

“God, I thank you for the support of the entire community through this case hearing," she said.

On Wednesday, a federal judge issued a ruling that would have banned Hildenbrand from delivering prayers at the graduation ceremony.

The ban, imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Fred Biery, caught the attention of Gov. Rick Perry and state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who supported an emergency appeal filed by the Medina Valley Independent School District on Thursday.

The original lawsuit was filed last week by an agnostic family whose son attends the school, about 30 miles west of San Antonio. The Schultz family said their son would suffer "irreparable harm" if anyone prayed at the graduation ceremony.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling on Friday, saying the family had not persuaded the three-judge panel "that the individual prayers or other remarks to be given by students at graduation are, in fact, school-sponsored."

In a statement Saturday, the Schultz family said it did not attend the graduation ceremony.

"Our family chose not to attend the ceremony this evening because we did not feel welcome at the event and we even feared for our safety in light of how hostile some of the public comments have been,” the family said in a statement released by the group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

“Graduation is a significant rite of passage for a young person,” the statement continued, “and we regret that our son will not be able to enjoy this special day with his peers.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Church and state • Schools • Texas

soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. LinCA

    @Friend. You said:"F U Lin"

    Thanks for contributing to this discussion. Comments like this sum up your position well. They leave very little to the imagination about where you stand.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  2. Trent

    Religion belongs in the privacy of one's home and religious building, not forced upon people in public settings. When religion is intoned in a public education setting, it becomes indoctrination. As this family experienced, public admonishment is the only result of failing to abide by the indoctrination.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      If that is what you think, you don't know much about Christ or Christainity. Jesus rarely spoke in the temple. He took His message to the streets and to the people!

      June 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Secondly, I imagine your admonishment to keep in private, does not apply to the ho-mo-se-xual community, does it?

      June 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Artist

      Steve (the real one)

      If that is what you think, you don't know much about Christ or Christainity. Jesus rarely spoke in the temple. He took His message to the streets and to the people!
      .
      Perhaps the people in the temple didn't believe his delusions *wink*

      June 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Perhaps the people in the temple didn't believe his delusions *wink*"

      Yeah..that's why members of the temple came to him like Nicodimus *wink*

      June 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Artist,

      You are but half correct. Most in the temple did not believe him. As far as delusions go, what do yo think?

      June 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Artist
      If that is what you think, you don't know much about Christ or Christainity. Jesus rarely spoke in the temple. He took His message to the streets and to the people!
      Perhaps the people in the temple didn't believe his delusions *wink*
      --------
      If you are winking at me, please make it a manly wink!

      June 7, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Al

      Steve (the real one)
      What, exactly, are you talking about? Holding hands or kissing in public? Do heterose.xuals refrain from doing this in public? How about talking about their relationships on the train, or celebrating engagements, anniversaries and marriages with public announcements? Like atheism, folks like you just can't stand gays not staying completely in the closet, right?

      June 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Al

      Steve (the real one)
      What, exactly, are you talking about? Holding hands or kissing in public? Do heterose.xuals refrain from doing this in public? How about talking about their relationships on the train, or celebrating engagements, anniversaries and marriages with public announcements? Like atheism, folks like you just can't stand gays not staying completely in the closet, right?
      ------
      If you need clarity, read Trent's remarks about keeping faith in private. Then read my remarks to that. Maybe that wil help.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  3. Mark from Middle River

    Hi Lin,

    Really quick post, time to head out to work.

    Lin, the only problem I have with your view is that you do what a lot of folks with issues against the Faith do. You lump all in together as one.

    Let's just use your Gay angle. Once you factor in Gay and Lesbian who state they are Christians, add into that the Gay and Lesbian churches, To that amount the churches who declare they are open to all, Throw in a Gay or Lesbian pastors, ministers and Bishops, and what I feel that what you have is not that Religion is wrong and evil. You have humans just being humans. Some folks hate just to hate.

    A Giant's baseball fan was brutally beaten at a Dodgers home game. There was no issues of Faith involved in the beating. They just beat him to beat someone different than themselves. In your view, do we fault the Dodgers organization because a Dodgers fan beat up a visiting teams fan in the “name of all Dodger'dom”

    No, we do not. It is the same with the church. If you say that Christians persecute gays in the name of the church then you have to face and explain that belief and opinion to openly all of the Gay and Lesbian Christians. In some ways such lumping is what those in the extremes of Christianity do when they tell these same Gay Christians that they do not belong in the Faith.

    Another way I would hope you look at things. My Grandfather served in WWII in Europe. I am not sure if he served food or carried a machine gun. The thing was that I always wondered how he faced the question of serving a country that hated him. He served his country and once getting back to the south he had to endure the likes of Jim Crow. I heard a old man, who was African American, state that he did not fight in WWII for the racist white people of American. He fought for the whites that showed him kindness and did not judge him. He recognized that all whites were not the same.

    When I hear you say “When the religious folks bash, and discriminate against, gays,” I think of others in the African American community who continue attempt to define all whites as racist.

    I am sorta siding with the poster above that the school was in a no win situation. I feel that the speech does not go against the Consti'tution because it is not attempting to create a state religion. It was a free speech issue.

    Lin, you are left with a choice of whose rights get infringed. That the student did not say from this moment on we are all Christians, does and I feel did allow her to win the day.

    L'chaim

    June 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Mark: Not to jump in, but you made a very relevant point here, and it may not be one you like...

      You said, "A Giant's baseball fan was brutally beaten at a Dodgers home game. There was no issues of Faith involved in the beating. They just beat him to beat someone different than themselves. In your view, do we fault the Dodgers organization because a Dodgers fan beat up a visiting teams fan in the “name of all Dodger'dom”"

      I would offer that, in fact, we DO fault the organization for what happened to a degree. If it's a lack of security presence at the stadium or alcohol sales to an already intoxicated individual that contributed to this beating, then the Dodgers do have some direct or indirect culpability here. Dodgers' management has already taken significant heat over that incident, and any lawsuits that are filed will certainly name the Dodgers and MLB as defendants in the suit.

      So, yes, we hold organizations responsible for the actions of their "fans" when the organization directly or indirectly contributes to their behavior.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Oh oh.
      Mark, don't swallow any more of that river water. You have always made at least some sense before. I am worried about you ! 8)

      Speaking of the Dodgers....
      FJ and I have this theory that sporting events may have the same function as going to church, (group forming, endorphin releasing, bla bla..). Any thoughts ?
      Did they beat him because he was from a rival shrewdness ? (family of apes) Very primal, I think.

      BTW, the church doesn't REALLY hate gay people. They are just confused and threatened by them because their fundamental Greek/Thomistic "idealistic" concept of an "ideal" person, (i.e. "human nature") which has not been yet integrated into the modern scientific discoveries about human se-xuality, (and the actual vast ranges of it's actual expressions), (as opposed to the one-size-fits-all-missionary-position). They just can't figure out how to talk to themselves about that yet, in a way they can admit is consistent. But they will, I bet in due course. It's a business decision.

      June 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Sean – So what year did you pass the New Jersey Bar 🙂

      I do not think that we hold the organization responcible for the actions of someone who is not an employyee of the same. That is part of being an adult in our society, you are responcible for your own actions. If I am an employer and I placed the guys there to beat up the guy, say security..then I could shoulder the blame. If they came to the park and had to much to drink or say that intoxication had nothign to do with the beating. At the end of the day a adult must be held responcible for his own actions.

      So, I would respectfully disagree and say No, we do not hold organizations responsible for the actions of folks that are not their employees.

      ...ok ..don't sue me 🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Mark: http://www dot ktla dot com/news/landing/ktla-giants-fan-beaten,0,6802176.story

      Replace the "dot" with .

      June 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • LinCA

      @ Mark. You said:"Lin, the only problem I have with your view is that you do what a lot of folks with issues against the Faith do. You lump all in together as one." (emphasis added).

      You must have missed where I said:"Don't get me wrong. I know not everyone is corrupted to the core by religion." (emphasis added).

      We've had this discussion before where you claim that I lump every christian together. But I don't. I am well aware that there are churches that are inclusive. Some are better than others. Keep in mind though, that not being evil isn't quite the opposite of being evil. The two don't cancel each other out.

      My point is that there is plenty of unnecessary evil brought on by religion. But considering that you said you only had a problem with the supposed generality of my comment, we must be in agreement 😉

      June 7, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Lin,

      "I know not everyone is corrupted to the core by religion."

      Lin, the argument then turns to a point of view. Is it the few people that distort the religion or is the religion bad from the start. I remember the movie Book of Eli and the guy described the Bible as a weapon. On some ways I can agree. In its 700 club form it can be very bigoted but at churches such as my own that help in the community and has members who are Gay I can not see the evil you speak of.

      It all about the flaws in man Lin. Try this, Athiest state often that folks use Religion to justify their hatreds. Can the reverse be true in a Athiest beliefs that folks can use faith to justify their kind acts?

      Can you say that there are plenty of good acts brought on by Religion?

      June 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Mark (I hope you're the original).

      You said:"Is it the few people that distort the religion or is the religion bad from the start..
      Since religion is whatever anybody makes of it, there isn't really a difference. Those that "distort" the religion are just as certain that their interpretation is the correct one. In their eyes, you are probably just as bad as I am (welcome to the club).

      And:"[...] but at churches such as my own that help in the community and has members who are Gay I can not see the evil you speak of."
      Good for you. I hope you will help spread the word and work against those that seem to hate so much.

      You also said:"It all about the flaws in man Lin. Try this, Athiest state often that folks use Religion to justify their hatreds. Can the reverse be true in a Athiest beliefs that folks can use faith to justify their kind acts?"
      Are you saying that need to justify kind acts? Are they so difficult or objectionable that they require justification?

      Then you said:"Can you say that there are plenty of good acts brought on by Religion?"
      This may be where the justification comes in. As in that people do good only because their religion requires it. But, I know of no good acts that require religion. In other words, as far as I know, any good act that is done in name of religion can be done without it.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Lin,

      “But, I know of no good acts that require religion. In other words, as far as I know, any good act that is done in name of religion can be done without it.”

      My response would be that I know of plenty of bad acts that have done, are being done, and will be done that will have nothing to do with a Religion. In other words, your fellow man or woman can pretty much persecute all the way to killing you and it can be done without a single ounce of Religion. 🙂

      The justify part is intriguing. If a person does an act of good and does it without a Faith and another does a act of good and says that he is doing it because of his Faith. The job, the act of good, still gets done. In some ways, I truthfully believe that some folks are just plain mean. In their desire they say that their faith stops them from caving in someones skull. I really do not have a issue with this.

      If a person says that they do not take a hammer to another's skull because they just do not believe it is not a good thing to d, I do not have a issue with it.

      In the end, someone clean up the playgrounds, feed the hungry, tell the depressed person that there is hope of better days, someone just …. I think I will quote a famous King.

      “Can't we all just get along?

      🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Mark.

      I never said that only religious people were evil. Yes, Rodney sure has a way with words, doesn't he. 🙂

      As Peace2All would say: Peace.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  4. John Richardson

    Of course, one extra point is that graduation ceremonies are pretty lame all around. I've attended a few, but none of my own.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  5. GSA

    @Mark from Middle River – you're right. A lot of Irish and Italian were treated horribly upon arriving in the US.
    My Grandfather told me many stories of him and his off-time from the army in other countries (he doesn't talk much of the actual battles). He didn't know a word of any language except Punjabi yet he said he loved to have a drink with anyone of Irish background, he said they drank hard and fought even harder just like the Sikhs did for the British in those times. Funny how kicking a-ss and a nice pint will bring anyone together.
    Cheers.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  6. morris2196

    Given the condition of the economy, every one of the graduates should have been praying.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      I like you.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Artist

      They are going to need it lol

      June 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  7. GSA

    @Rev Dr Gregory D. Davidson – If you truly believe that America was built on Christian values then why not back up your statement and have Christianity take the good with the bad? The hard-work, dedication to values of freedom and honesty and being open and compa-ssionate are part of America's past for sure and you credit those to Christianity which is fine with me. But then you will agree that deception, lies, cheating, stealing, ra-pe, racism and murder are part of what Americas was built upon as well along with the hard work from slaves treated like garbage and women as second cla-ss citizens......shall I go on? I don't disagree with your statement but please be ready to accept all the blame along with all the credit if you want to be taken seriously.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hey don't forget my second class Irish and Italian brothers and sisters.

      Still good post. 🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  8. Jeff

    So someone answer me this...

    Why not a school voucher program? More than ever before, I think that vouchers make a ton of sense in our society. This would allow parents to place their student in a school that caters to what the parents see as important. This isn't just about religion either. There are certain schools that have a great coach in a particular sport and I know parents that have moved their kids to that school just so they could have that coach for their child. There are schools with great music, art, sports, academics, or religious emphasis. Why not allow parents to choose where their kid obtains their education? The core stays the same with Math, English, History, and Science (to a degree). Standards would not drop off and it would be up to each school to keep up...basically compete...with the other schools out there. That raises the bar across the board...which is a good thing!

    ...and before you get on my comment about Science (to a degree), let me just say that I believe in teaching kids both the Theory of Evolution and the Theory of Creationism. Both have merit and both have big questions as well. I say put both out there and let kids discuss and draw their own conclusions.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Electric Larry

      The theory of evolution has a mountain of evidence behind it. The "theory" of creationism does not have even the slightest bit of evidence supporting it. Evolution is a theory the same way gravity and aerodynamics are theories. Creationism is a theory in the same way leprechauns and witches are theories.

      We need schools to teach people how to think critically, so that people are not deceived by spurious arguments like yours. Vouchers would allow people like you to hide their children from science, and indirectly forces people to pay for religious education, in violation of the First Amendment.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Jeff,

      On school vouchers, I like the idea as well but once in a debate type of a forum I heard a point that I that I could not shake and might be the reason why the voucher route has never really materialized.

      In some ways it was a range of issues. The first basic and most major issue is that the voucher has the potential of becoming virtually worthless. If I have a city or town worth of students I am pretty sure that even the parents who are not as active in their child's academic life will strive to have their child in the best of the best school. So then you have a principal or a school board faced with a ton of applications to attend the top school. In some ways that is good because then the school would be able to pick the best and brightest. That will give you, say in a town like Washington DC or Philadelphia, two or maybe three powerhouse schools.

      Those schools will have the best teachers gravitate towards those two to three schools because the most behaved and disciplined students are there. College recruits will love it because they know that when they get applications for admission and the student is listed as coming for that town, if they did not attend one of those three schools, their application might as well have been tossed.

      Now for the rest of the students in the town? The teachers looking for just a paycheck until a opening at the three best schools become available? Maybe even choosing to pursue a job in another field because to have that they did not teach at one of the three best schools, could be as damaging for them as the students.

      In some ways you create two tier education system. The problem then becomes, where are the best teachers most needed. Chances are that the most effective teachers are needed in the lower schools because in that great mix of those that did not get to go to the three best schools are students whose parents do care but their kids just can not make the grade.

      In this outcome the voucher program the “Why not allow parents to choose where their kid obtains their education? “ …. the problem is that all of the parents will want their kids in the top school. Then the voucher becomes worthless.

      The second issue that I have heard raised through the years is similar to the first but in a more direct aspect. What about the number of private schools who can and have said that they will refuse to take the voucher? Washington DC had a issue with this, I believe, because parents attempted to enroll their kids out of the failing public school systems and place them in Parochial schools. The outrage came because those schools began to refuse to take them. Some simply said that by taking the voucher would be taking the Governments money and that they feared that with the Government money they would have to bend to even more Governments influence in their curriculum.

      So the parents had the vouchers and the only place to use the vouchers were in a already failing school system.

      I do not know if I worded everything correctly but from what I understand these are just two of the main issues with vouchers. I have heard of school systems resorting to lotteries to see which students get to go to the top schools. People who push the voucher program seem to think that there are this small group of parents and kids who do wish for a better education for their kids. In many ways this is true. The problem is that when the failing parent looks outside and sees the neighbors kid going to the best school, she will want the same for her kid. So, which child's voucher do you take?

      June 7, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Jeff

      @Electric Larry ...no need to get so defensive! I like the work Darwin did, but I think it's incomplete. Darwin himself said:

      "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."

      Michael Behe (Professor of Biochemistry at Leigh University) describes several structures found within cells, which could not "have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications" describing them as "irreducibly complex." His examples include: the bactrial flagellum, a minature motor made up of over 40 parts, all necessary for function; the blood clotting mechanism of humans, a cascade of interacting chemicals; and the synthesis pathway for AMP, basic to life in all cells.

      Look, I'm not saying Darwin is totally wrong at all. I think a lot of his theory has merit...but it doesn't work as is in my opinion. I think the scientific community would do well to re-evaluate Darwin's research and come up with a new theory that takes into account the discoveries of the last 50 years, we would have something. Until then though, Darwin's Theory of Evolution is flawed in my opinion.

      ...by the way, The Origin of Species is in my bookcase and my kids and I have referenced it often. My kids don't rely on blind faith and they better never do that! I'm all for quality discussion on a myriad of topics. Don't assume I'm an idiot because I don't believe the same way as you do!

      Also, there isn't a need to cut and paste from every Behe detractor out there. I know Behe's "Irreducibly Complex" argument has holes to...and of course those detractors have detractors of their own! My point is that there are good arguments on both sides. Both should be examined and studied over and again. Our kids should understand that there are multiple perspectives and continue to be encouraged to think for themselves.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      Why would you quote Behe's Irreducible Complexity if you later say you are aware that it's been refuted? Just because you can question something (and quote mine Darwin) doesn't mean that it no longer has merit. You said it yourself:

      "but it doesn't work as is in my opinion."
      and later
      "Darwin's Theory of Evolution is flawed in my opinion."

      You have the right to your opinion, however until your opinion is shared by the scientific community, it isn't right; it's simply your opinion. Darwin's theory of evolution is a theory because it's been verified over with over 150 years of research. Creationism (or Intelligent Design, however you want to label it) is not a theory because it has nothing to support it. At best, it's a hypothesis.

      Just saying.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Jeff

      @la! la!...my purpose of quoting Behe is to show there are intelligent arguments opposite of evolution. Yes, Behe has since been refuted, but again, those that have refuted Behe have been refuted as well!

      My point is that there are A TON of views on this particular topic that all deserve to be evaluated by our kids in school. That's what science is suppose to be though, right? The more discussion that takes place, the more we understand.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      "Yes, Behe has since been refuted, but again, those that have refuted Behe have been refuted as well!"

      They really haven't. Behe suggested irreducible complexity and listed examples of what he thought was too complex to have evolved. Other members of the scientific community refuted all of his claims, and explained why his examples don't work. That's it. I would like to see a link to anyone who has refuted those who debunked it.

      "My point is that there are A TON of views on this particular topic that all deserve to be evaluated by our kids in school. That's what science is suppose to be though, right? The more discussion that takes place, the more we understand."

      Right, there are a ton of views on this particular topic, but the only ones which should be taught in science class are those which are scientifically backed. If your logic held true, there would be dozens (like Scientology, Hingu, Buddhist, and the crack pot ideas that we are the garden of an alien civilization). of views we would have to teach in order to give the kids all the information.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      There are no legitimate arguments for Creationism.
      Darwin said in his writings: “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” This is essentially the same argument that Dr. Bebe uses, and has been debunked in many places.
      That "Intelligent Design" argument which appeals to, among many other things, the many structures and functions of an eye, has been debunked, see : http://discussions.godandscience.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=979. Just because you, (and indeed Charles Darwin and Dr. Bebe), for example can't see, in a few seconds observation period, how the very very, many generations long, (ie millions of years) process, in which optic cells develop the capacity to become sensitive to photons, etc., played out, (which HAS been simulated in multiple super computer simulations to take about an average of a minimum of 40 generations), in your very short observation period, doesn't mean it's logical to project or conclude that the only option for explanation would be a deity.
      The continued use of and promotion of this unsupported belief system as somehow an equivalent to a scientific theory in this country, is one of the reasons why the education system in this country is so vastly inferior to those in other countries. Do you know the percentage of Europeans who view the Theory of Evolution as legitimate, vs the percentage of American who do ? It's startling. 😈

      June 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Jeff

      @Mark...my comment to you is still be reviewed...no clue as to why!

      @la! la! and Bucky...My point is that there are strong arguments on both sides. la! la!, there are no strong points for "...Scientology, Hingu, Buddhist, and the crack pot ideas that we are the garden of an alien civilization..." out there. In fact, there are many well respected scientist that believe in creationism. Again, all I'm saying is that the more we educate ourselves...and more importantly our kids...the more we understand the "why" behind what we believe.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      "My point is that there are strong arguments on both sides."

      Tell me a single strong argument for Creationism that can't be explained by science.

      "there are no strong points for "...Scientology, Hingu, Buddhist, and the crack pot ideas that we are the garden of an alien civilization..." out there."

      So, other religious beliefs have no credit behind them, but the Christianity does? How peculiar.

      "In fact, there are many well respected scientist that believe in creationism."

      Name them, please. I'd like to find out where they got their doctorate from and what area of science they study.

      "Again, all I'm saying is that the more we educate ourselves...and more importantly our kids...the more we understand the "why" behind what we believe."

      It seems like you have this romantic viewpoint of running into a room full of glassy eyed students memorizing the talking points behind evolution and yelling "ASK WHY!" or something ridiculous like that. In reality, almost all science teachers will encourage their students to learn more about evolution, as it is an endlessly fascinating and truly never ending study.

      It's up to the parent's to educate their kids on their religious beliefs. As I stated in my first point, religious beliefs have no place in the science classroom.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Intelligent design, irreducible complexity, "tech the controversy" etc. are all sneaky ways of getting creationism (IE: religion) taught as science.
      The lead proponent of these "theories" is The Discovery Inst.itute, who openly admit that their goal isn't to teach what they think is fact. An internal doc.ument leaked in 1999 described the Discovery group's objective in pushing for creationism to be taught in schools as "to defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies". They want to use Intelligent Design as a "wedge" to separate science from its allegiance to "atheistic naturalism".
      In other words, they fear that teaching FACTS to children will drive them away from religion.

      For Behe and his followers, no amount of evidence is ever enough (like the reams of textbooks, peer reviewed studies etc he was presented outlining the gradual evolution of the immune system, bacterial flagellum etc) and they will persist in their God of the Gaps arguments.
      What creationists have is a gut feeling – a hunch that complex structures point to a conscious creator.
      Darwin had a hunch too – but the difference is that his gut feeling has been confirmed by 150 years of research by various fields of science.

      As Pope John Paul II said in 1996:
      “New findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—const.itutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.”

      June 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • civiloutside

      A litte thing about the irreducible complexity argument is that it seems to look at complex structures in a totally backwards way. For example, the eye. It's extremely complicated. The argument seems to go that if you remove any one of its components, it can no longer fully perform its function. Therefore, it could not have evolved in stages.

      But evolution doesn't really work that way. The relevant question when looking at any structure of the eye isn't "if I took this away, is it still an eye?" The relevant question is "If I took this away, does the creature that possesses the remaining structures still have a survival advantage (or at least not suffer a survival penalty) compared to a creature without them?"

      Let's look at the eye. You have the cornea, the lens, the iris, the focal muscles, the retina, the muscles that turn it, the eyelids, etc. Clearly if you remove any one of these, the eye has a problem. But...

      Take away the muscles that rotate the eye in its socket. Does the organism still have an advantage over one that lacks those muscles and some other eye structure (incidentally, owls' eyes are fixed in their sockets, and they seem to survive just fine)? Yes? Then I guess those muscles are a reducible complexity.

      Moving back down the chain... let's take away the focal muscles. You now have an animal that can neither rotate its eyes nor adjust its focus. Does it still have an advantage over the same animal with the same eye but perhaps lacking a lens altogether? Yes? Then the focal muscles are reducible.

      Now take away the lens altogether.Wow, this eye is looking kinda primitive. It can't rotate, and can't focus at all. Does its owner have an advantage over the same creature without an iris? Yes? Then the lens is reducible.

      Keep going. You can take away the adjustable iris, the eyelids, etc. etc. until all you have is a patch of photosensitive cells on the surface of the skin and you will at every stage still have a creature with an advantage over one with a still more primitive version. At some point it will cease to be recognizably an eye, but evolution isn't trying to create eyes. It's just rewarding survival advantages with, well, survival.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  9. civiloutside

    This article makes it difficult to form an opinion, since it does not provide any information on why this particular student was speaking. IMO, it would have been very inappropriate if, for example, the school had asked her to speak in order to give a prayer. Now I want to preface my following remarks by saying I'm an atheist, so everyone understands where I'm coming from.

    However, in checking other news sources, it seems that the girl giving the prayer was speaking because she was the Valedictorian. Now unless this school follows a very unusual practice of selecting its Valedictorian based on religious beliefs, this girl had earned the right to speak by virtue of having the best academic record in the graduating class. That was the basis on which she was asked to speak, and it is a nearly universal tradition in American high schools that the Valedictorian be allowed to speak some (hopefully) inspirational remarks at graduation.

    What that boils down to, for me, is that she was a private person giving a speech of her own composition in a forum she had earned through her academic performance, not a speaker contracted by the school to give a religious speech. Provided that the school did not ask her to pray, this looks to me like a case of a school choosing not to censor her speech, not a case of a school compelling a religious devotion. Her speech happened to be Christian in nature, but had the Valedictorian happened to be of another faith (or none at all) I see no reason to believe that they would have been denied the opportunity to express their inspiration either. So based on that understanding of events, I'm gonna have to agree with the ruling that she should have been allowed to pray.

    IMO, there's a fine line to be drawn between abolishing religion from public discussions and abolishing efforts to use government insti-tutions as a pulpit from which to promote religious views. As Americans I feel that we should absolutely pursue the latter, and absolutely oppose the former. The point of free speech is to allow ideas to compete in the public discourse to better arrive at the best consensus, and any effort to simply apply a gag to the opposition completely undermines this principal.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Jeff

      Best post I've read on here in a long, long time. Very well articulated and certainly strikes at the heart of this dispute.

      Well done...

      June 7, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Peace2All

      @civiloutside

      Hey -civil...!

      Given your apparent research, I would tend to agree with your argument.

      IMHO, Very well said, my friend... per usual.

      Peace...

      June 7, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yes I agree. Very good post. Does a bit beats the napalm and cannon fire approach I have been trying.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • LinCA

      @civiloutside. You said:"there's a fine line to be drawn between abolishing religion from public discussions and abolishing efforts to use government insti-tutions as a pulpit from which to promote religious views. As Americans I feel that we should absolutely pursue the latter, and absolutely oppose the former. The point of free speech is to allow ideas to compete in the public discourse to better arrive at the best consensus, and any effort to simply apply a gag to the opposition completely undermines this principal."

      I would agree wholeheartedly. The question that is debated in these comments, of course, is whether this incident represents a student exercising her right to free speech, or whether it is promoting religion from a public pulpit. I contend it is the latter, for 2 reasons:
      1) The prayer was apparently announced ahead of time by the school.
      2) The girl leading the prayer was the valedictorian, and as such the official representative of her entire class.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • John Richardson

      I can't AT ALL agree with the plaudits being heaped on Civil here. Totally misses the point. If you think for a minute that the tradition of the valedictorian giving a speech means that she has an absolute free speech right to say ANYTHING in this PUBLIC meeting, just look what happens if she uses her time to tell off color jokes, tweak people she doesn't like or any of a zillion other things that she would not only not have been free to say, but would have been disciplined for. When you are given the rare opportunity and privilege of addressing a gathering in a way most people can't, that should HEIGHTEN your sense of decorum and respect for your audience and not be seized as an opportunity to hold a public prayer.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • civiloutside

      @LinCA – well, those bring up some questions, which again comes back to the difficulty of firming an opinion based on incomplete information (e.g. Bad reporting).

      1) Was the prior announcement in the spirit of "we've reviewed the speech and just want to give fair warning that the Valedictorian intends to lead a prayer as part of her remarks," or was it "we've asked the Valedictorian to lead a prayer"? It does make a difference.

      2) Valedictorian is an honor given to the student with the beat academic record. I believe that everyone in the audience understands that the Valedictorian is afforded the opportunity to speak based on this and no other standard. I do not believe that the Valedictorian can be construed to represent the views of her classmates, nor does anyone reasonably believe that she's there to represent the views of the school. She's speaking *to* them, not *for* them.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Frogist

      @civiloutside: Very good points all. I can always count on you to clarify a situation. But regarding the announcement of the prayer in the schedule... shouldn't the school have erred on the side of caution and requested the prayer be removed? Certainly she has the right to speak her mind, but on school grounds and with the appearance of impropriety, the school might have simply asked that she remain neutral in her speech if the line was so blurry.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • civiloutside

      @JR – That kind of assumes that I'd agree with disciplining her for making off-color jokes. I wouldn't, and I certainly wouldn't support a court injunction banning her from telling them. People take themselves far too seriously. You're misconstruing my support for her legal right to speak as being support for what she said. Just because I think she had the right does not mean that I think she made particularly good use of that right.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • John Richardson

      No, I'm not misconstruing your support of a legal right to free speech as support for the content of her speech. I just don't see how you can support any legal right to hold a public prayer at a school function. If the valedictorian can do it, why can't a teacher? What one has the legal right to do is actually often restricted when you are in an official capacity and valedictorian may be a fleeting "official position", but it is one all the same.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • civiloutside

      @Frogist – I'm sure the school could have. Whether they could have legally forced her to, though (or are legally obligated to compel her to) I'm far less certain of. I'm pretty sure they'd have faced a lawsuit had they tried to compel her to remove the prayer from her speech, though, and I'm generally inclined to err in favor of free speech.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • civiloutside

      @JR – A teacher is employed to enact the educational policy of the school and are perceived by students to represent official authority. A Valedictorian is just a student who got better grades than anyone else in their class, and are perceived by students as their peers. They have no official authority, nor are they generally perceived to be executors of school policy.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @civiloutside You may be right on the legal point, at least at this stage of the legal controversy. But I still feel that when a government insti=tution grants any individual a special speaking privilege at a public event, that opportunity is not the speaker's to do with what they will. Yes, there have been religious addresses before as well as some self-imagined comedians looking for a Youtube moment for their alleged comedic skills. But the question is should there have been and, more importantly, should there continue to be such? I say no.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • civiloutside

      Well, ideally, I'd like for us to get to a place as a society where people no longer *want* to do things like this, much less get praised and held up as virtuous for doing so. I just don't feel that we're going to get there by banning them.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  10. JT

    Perhaps we should just carve out Texas and let the Fundi Taliban Christians create their own theocracy and they could vote GWB back in. It would be no time before they would be splitting into thousands of different factions fighting each other over individual interpretations of their superst-itious beliefs. They would be begging to keep religion out of the public sphere.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      Well said. But it's obviously not that easy for some to see beyond day one.
      On day two, no matter how far right, and orthodox I am, there is ALWAYS going to come along someone who is more right, and more orthodox, and more holy, and more correct, and more inspired, and more righteous, and more in tune with the real truth than me. Is that really that difficult ?

      June 7, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • John Richardson

      Exactly, Bucky Ball. As awful as theocrats can be to non-believers or believers in what they view as "exotic" religions, they tend to be even worse on members of their own faith. Christians were always killing other Christians as heretics. Same with Muslims. The Wahabbi sect that spawned Bin Laden is famous for going after other Muslims. It's much like the communists who turned on each other so violently even as the absorbed some old tsarists into the government. Whenever you have an ideology that presumes to be some form of absolute truth, factional rivalries over relatively small issues are viewed as great battles in which the fate of the most absolute of absolute truths is at stake and factional battles are fought with the fervor of the Last Battle Between Good and Evil, when in fact they are just some more of the endless battles between ideological tweedledees and tweedledums.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  11. SimpleReally

    I don't wish to be critical but Jesus said

    Matthew 6: 5-6

    And when thou prayest, thou shalt NOT be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is IN SECRET, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    This is a direct instruction from Jesus (the alleged head of Christianity) who Christians allegedly worship, that leads straight to the Lord's Prayer and Christians don't follow it.

    Have Christians have just increased the size and shape of Jesus' closet?

    Show me a Christian who follows Jesus' teachings precisely and I'll faint.

    Could Jesus be any clearer on the matter of prayer?

    June 7, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • Jeff

      Not to be critical of you, but there are over 250 verses in the bible referencing prayer. The verse you have pointed out was to chastise those that were praying for public notoriety. They weren't praying from the heart, it was for show. That's what Jesus is referring to in this passage if you ask me. While I don't disagree that personal prayer should be done in private, I do believe it is right to come together and pray over all types of situations.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Jeff And just about all of these public prayers are exactly that: pretentious displays of religiosity meant to aggrandize the one praying and perhaps also the ones who invited the one praying to pray. Christians really don't get Christ at all in many ways. That's why I find their smug certainty about their own salvation so hilarious.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • SimpleReally

      Jeff and there you have the problem with Christians. You partially accept a direct teaching from Jesus (your alleged saviour and teacher), but then quote the other references to prayer.

      But who are most of those references from ... Men! Humans! People like yourself! Oh that's right people allegedly inspired by God.

      So God's own son's words are equal in your mind to Man's words allegedly inspired by God?

      Jesus gives a precise instruction and men in the Bible change the nature of Jesus' instructions and you see no problem with this?

      Can you really call yourself a Christian if you allow Paul's teachings or another man's teachings to change the precise teachings of Jesus, and you defend your actions using man's teachings?

      As I said show me a Christian who follows Jesus' teachings precisely and I'll faint!

      Is the subtle undermining of Jesus' precise teachings in the Gospels ... Christians undermining Christ?

      June 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • @SimpleReally

      Bravo, sir!
      I agree with your posts quite a bit. Too much, in fact. Your arguments for integrity and ethics inside the Christian ideology are excellent and exceedingly rare to see in a politico-religious debate/comment blog such as this.
      Well done and thank you.

      June 8, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • SimpleReally

      Thank you for the kind words... they are very much appreciated.

      June 8, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  12. Awkward Situations

    Fantastic. I say, at the graduations ceremony next year a Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu student should get up there and say a prayer. That will show us what the courage of their convictions is really based on. Theoretically, the school, governor, and state attorney general should have absolutely no problem with this and fight just as hard as in this case to allow the prayers of other "recognized" religions. Realistically, somehow I don't see it happening.

    Maybe the atheist and agnostic students at that school should help make arrangements to allow prayers of other religions for next year just to show them, by example, what a circus nightmare they are inviting. These clowns are scary, the lot of them!

    June 7, 2011 at 4:45 am |
  13. Mark from Middle River

    Hey Oslo – Nice set of post. Well, let's get to it 🙂

    >>> “Mark, suit yourself. I feel no need to provide you, a card-carrying Republican, with links to your own party's propaganda and political maneuvers. “

    Ahh, so I will take this as you saying that you were just reading off the liberal cue cards and talkin' points. Funny, Atheist are normally very forth coming with doc'umented proof of what they say. You seem to be still at the Padawan stage. I would stick around here. I am pretty sure either Davey or JohnR will take you under their wing and train you. Right now, your not really in the top league.

    >>> “Education, health care, higher education, and anything the Dems have supported are all marked for destruction by the Republicans.”

    Yep, more left wing talkin' points. Now you are swinging at mid air Oso

    >>> “Poor people are getting poorer without having the possibility of a job to lift them out of poverty.”

    Yep, lets see Obama had two years with a Democratic controlled congress and how many folks did he help. Heck he didn't even change out a bunch of people from the Bush Administration. … and we are still in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo is still open … and now we are in Libya. All this and guess what, folks are still out of work and the poor are still with us. Are you beginning to understand what more and more are finally getting in that both parties are more similar than different.

    >>> “But the Republicans keep laughing and sneering at the poor while they do their da'mdest to shove this country deeper into the hole. “

    Yep, and I thought the left said it was the wars that did this. We are three years in and not only has Obama still have the military in all the same places that G.W. did he added Libya. I thought he said we were changing directions out of a ditch.... seems like he has us pointed in the exact same direction as G.W.

    But, for all the Liberal whining … It was wild to see Obama sign George Bush's Patriot Act for another extension. 🙂

    You know Oslo, you say I did not win but you sure have gone a bit off topic. I mean I knew I wiped the floor with yah' but I did not think you would go crying like a baby from the original topic. Ecch … some folks kids 🙂

    “You obviously don't really give a crap about anyone but yourself.”

    Ahh...the tell tale sign of grand tantrum. Maybe I estimated too high with the 13 years old comment. I am seeing much much younger. Lol.

    >>> “And my name is Oso, not Oslo. I am not a city in Norway.”
    Sorry about that, I was thinking of the character Oslo on “Keeping Up Apperances” The simple fact is that your attacks are sorta hypocritical because you are making claims about the Repblicans, not providing links to back up your talking points. At the same time, like most debate novice, you leave yourself open for the simple counter-attacks. Heck I am not perfect either but you will not see me go railing that level of ranting ludicy about the Dems as you did about the Reps. Mostly because I see too much fault in both. You fail to see it so that will always make you weak.... or sorry. Either one 🙂

    >>> “ It should do you some good to see that the issues are not black and white with some middle ground always to be found.”

    Great, ..thank you, its about time Oso. The greatest form of flattery is when some one imitates you. I speak of the Middle Ground earlier and now you are speaking of the Middle Ground. Heck, maybe I might take you under my wing and make a good Republican out of yah'. You can call me Master Palpatine 🙂

    Nahh... I would rather it be a Touch By an Angel moment. My work is done... I can drive off into the sunset to help other troubled folk.

    When you walk down the road
    Heavy burden, heavy load
    I will rise and I will walk with you

    When you walk through the night
    And you feel like you wanna just give up, give up, give up on the fight
    I will come and I will walk with you

    Walk with you
    Until the sun don't even shine
    Walk with you
    I'll be there all the time
    I tell you I'll walk with you
    See you through

    June 7, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Frogist

      @Mark: I'll skip over the prideful gloating... that's not particularly Christ-like IMO, but worse, it's not particularly humble which is my personal preference.
      But I have to say I LOVE Keeping Up Appearances! I think his name is Onslow though... not sure how you spell it but there is def an N in there. Love Are You Being Served as well and As Time Goes By. I am in love with Dame Judi.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Frogist – Did you watch those shows on Public Television. I do believe you are right and it was Onslow.

      I was just havin' a bit of fun with Oso. 🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  14. So True

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBALcN701NU&w=640&h=390]

    June 7, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  15. Reality

    The prayer that should have been handed out to all the graduates, parents and friends:

    SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
    THERE NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
    THERE WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY

    SAVING 15.5 MILLION ORTHODOX FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
    ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

    Added details upon request.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Rev Dr Gregory D. Davidson

      Prayer of you Reality when you are faced with a life threatening situation:

      Help me God I never believed in!

      I have seen many atheists and agnostics change their tune when they were faced with a life threatening situation. Suddenly God becomes a reality.

      This ruling in Texas is just another validity of the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Atheists, agnostics, or liberal judges will never be able to do away with what God has ordained.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Oso

      When people need secular judges to rule in their favor so they can use that as "proof" that their god exists, they appear as nothing more than idiots who cannot tie two thoughts together to save their souls.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • fimeilleur

      @Rev Dr Gregory D. Davidson,

      Next thing you'll state is that there aren't Atheists in foxholes... I bet you there aren't any true believers in hospitals.

      If I utter the words "oh my God", it's a figure of speech... Oh my Unicorn doesn't have that "world wide appeal" to it yet.
      Prove your god...

      June 7, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Rev Dr Gregory D. Davidson
      "Prayer of you Reality when you are faced with a life threatening situation:
      Help me God I never believed in! I have seen many atheists and agnostics change their tune when they were faced with a life threatening situation. Suddenly God becomes a reality."
      -- Your assertion that you have observed this "loss of nerve" by some who fail in the task of maintaining their intellectual integrity in the face of crisis, (the oh so tired old, ((and BTW, please excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I NEVER thought I would EVER say this here), "There are no atheists in foxholes" bullsh-t), proves absolutely nothing, and is not "projectable" just because you say it is, without any evidence. I don't know how many do or do not "lose their nerve", and I also am unwilling to GUESS at why, (as I am likely a lot younger than you), but I suspect it may be a whole lot less than your pessimistic view of human intellectual would dictates. In fact I have observed the process go in the opposite direction at least twice.

      "This ruling in Texas is just another validity of the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Atheists, agnostics, or liberal judges will never be able to do away with what God has ordained."
      -- Your astounding arrogance (and assumption) here that you actually know what "the one true God has ordained" (and that that deity was in fact singular or even similar in the minds of the three patriarchs you mention), is simply fatuous.
      -- Your assumption that ONLY "Atheist, agnostic, or liberal judges" are the only judges who are unable to see that this ruling may be a threat to THEMSELVES also is ridiculous. There are many christian judges who would never rule this way, and are equally appalled by this sort of shortsightedness.
      -- The childish, simple minded approach to both law and religion you propose, "will never be able to do away with what God has ordained" remains, for me, one of the most scandalous properties of your position. Your pompous statement that that "what God has ordained", (and your assumption that you even know what that is), and that that is somehow played out, or not, (or could even be thwarted), by a legal decision in Texas is rather interesting. What will you say when the courts finally see the errors in this decision ? Would THAT be what "God has ordained ? Is that not a slippery slope ?

      June 7, 2011 at 6:26 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      please excuse me, that should have said :
      "pessimistic view of human intellectual integrity would dictate".

      June 7, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Rev. Dr. Gregory D. Davidson

      Hey -Rev. Gregory...

      You Said: "This ruling in Texas is just another validity of the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

      Your attempt to equate a ruling by a court = validation of God, is a fallacious argument. There is no inherent connection between your opinion and the court's ruling.

      You Said: "Atheists, agnostics, or liberal judges will never be able to do away with what God has ordained."

      That is bigoted unverified speculation... on so many levels.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 7, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • John Richardson

      Hey Rev! Where does Jesus say "Thou shalt heap petty, uninformed insults upon non-believer"? A born again Christian and I were once in a potentially life threatening situation. I kept my head while she blubbered hysterically about not wanting to die. Later on, I had a gun in my face and I didn't pray for anyone to intervene, but just handled as best I could and indeed survived the situation. Maybe you should actually know something before you speak?

      June 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Ed

      @John Richardson

      "Hey Rev! Where does Jesus say "Thou shalt heap petty, uninformed insults upon non-believer"?"

      and where does it say that non-believers should heap petty, uninformed insults upon believers. none the less there is an a great deal of just that going on on this blog. What goes around comes around as they say.

      Although it would be better for everone if we all stopped with the insults and treated others how we would like them to treat us.

      June 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Ed "and where does it say that non-believers should heap petty, uninformed insults upon believers?" It doesn't! However, as Crustaceans 13: 13 says "Well-informed barbs are not to be confused with uninformed insults. The latter are RIGHT OUT. the former are okay, as long as they are funny" Hey, ask and ye shall receive!

      June 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Ed

      @John I don't think that's a real publication or at least I'm not fimilar with it and since it carries the name given to shrimp and mollusc such I suspect who made it up to try to see if I would realize it was fake quote. But in either as I said what goes around comes around. If non believers are going to throw insults they are going to get them back. That is true for believers as well so prehaps we should stop with the insults.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Ed INFIDEL!!!! How dare you mock the book of Crustaceans!!!

      June 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  16. Eliteamericans

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuSqsopQEF0&w=640&h=390]

    June 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  17. DogmaAndPonyShow

    Well, it looks like the Christian Taliban got their way yet again. They just don't get that the Bill of Rights are individual rights. School graduations should not be exclusionary events and that can be prevented by not holding public prayers. The rights of not one religious person would be violated by abolishing prayer at school graduations. Fundagelicals can pray whenever and wherever they choose in silence. Since their god is all hearing and all knowing, I don't think the dude would mind if the prayers came from the inside the heads of a few hundred dimwitted christian Texans.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Oso

      Well said.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>"can pray whenever and wherever they choose in silence"

      Ahh in silence. Like I commented earlier, is this not the same position that folks like Pat Robertson and the 700 club folks have with Gay and Lesbian marriage? The:

      "you can be Gay but you just need to be gay in the silence and privacy of your home"

      Sounds the same to me. Sorta along the lines of ..."you can speak Spanish when you in the privacy of your home, but Spanish has no place in society"

      Funny, how hatred and bigotry first steps are always to try to silence the voices and erase the people.

      Himmler and Goebbels would be so proud of you guys 🙂

      >>"The rights of not one religious person would be violated by abolishing prayer at school graduations."

      Well, except the right to speak and voice her views. I mean its a toss up, the right of one student not to hear the prayer verses the other student wanting to give it. Christian Taliban ... is that like the satanic Atheist? Sorta going a bit overboard in describing folks that disagree.

      ...hmm... then again I pretty much called you a nazi there ... hmm.. Can we accept the Taliban tag if you guys accept the Nazi tag... just askin' 😀

      June 7, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      Matthew 6:5-6 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. "

      It's almost like your god wants you to not make a huge deal about praying in public. Weird... 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :

      June 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • John Richardson

      Mark, your analogy to gay and lesbians fails in many respects. Even those like me who are fine with gay public displays of affection don't necessarily think that if the valedictorian happened to have been a lesbian, her moment at the podium would have been an appropriate place and time to make out with her partner, eh? Second, while there are some Christians and other cultural conservatives who may honestly believe that "gay is okay" in private but not in public, that is neither what current conservative Christian ideology says nor what those who support anti-sodomy laws are supporting even in the strictly temporal realm of public law. Finally, how can one be married only in private? What would that even mean?

      June 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • MTPocket

      DogmaAnd PonyShow, Please note that the first amendment precludes Congress from passing a law establishing a religion, and also precludes prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The first amendment was the basis for Thomas Jefferson's famous "Wall of Separation between Church and State". Worth of note, also is Thomas Jefferson's assertion that, "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg." Given the first amendment, and Jefferson's reasoning, I believe the 5th Circuit Court got this one right.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ed

      @Mt pocket, well said

      @Dogmaand pony show.
      "Well, it looks like the Christian Taliban got their way yet again"

      So because a christian girl said a prayer out loud in public she is a hate filled oppressive tyrant. It seems the Taliban ways extend to at least on non-believer on this blog and form other remarks more then one. Your handle seems very fiitting you are indeed very dogmatic, even fantaical about you belief.

      I can't see what harm was done to any one at this event. The speech end the students threw their hats and went to party or eat with family and friends. Would it have harmed this girl not to pray? no. but it harmed no one to hear her pray. Freedom of religion and speech means you can believe what you like and say pretty much what you like. The family that tried to block the prayer iare the ones that denied religious freedom not the girl who said the prayer. Most of the people don't listen to the speeches any way.

      With all that said it would have been polite to her audience to not pray. They were a captive audience and she should have considered their pont of view in planning her speech. This is an example of just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. She was with in her legal rights but should have considered the audience more.

      Still all in all no real harm done.

      June 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!
      Matthew 6:5-6 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. " It's almost like your god wants you to not make a huge deal about praying in public. Weird... :
      -----------
      Not weird if you understood what was being said The key is "be seen by others". Jesus Himself prayed in public! This is NOT against public prayer. It is against hypocracy! Read verse 1-4 as well

      June 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Disregard that, I suck cocks.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      Ah, so that passage goes into the "Not meant to be taken literally" part of the bible. I gotta start keeping a list, this is getting confusing.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!
      Ah, so that passage goes into the "Not meant to be taken literally" part of the bible. I gotta start keeping a list, this is getting confusing.
      -----
      I don't believe I said that. I am saying you took it out of context! Again, Jesus Himself, prayed PUBLICALLY!

      June 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • DogmaAndPonyShow

      @Ed–I never said she was a "hate-filled tyrant", although based on the death threats coming from her comrades in Louisiana and Texas, I 'd say there's lot of that going around. Also, I don't think she's personally tyrannical, but she's an instigator of tyranny when she encourages her fellow christians to use their majority to quash the individual rights of the few.

      Please explain how my comments are anywhere close to the Taliban. Do I want a theocracy? No. Do I want to suppress opposing views? No. (If you think I do, then you must be against The Bill of Rights.) Do I wish violence against those with opposing views? No. What's interesting is that for many defenders of graduation prayers, the answer to all of those questions is "Yes".

      Please explain my dogma, I'd love to find out what dogma you think I adhere to. I'm fanatical? Hardly, unless you consider rational /reasonable criticism to be "fanatical". I don't.

      >> "I can't see what harm was done to any one at this event."
      Your blind to the harm because you're of the majority viewpoint. What if your were the sole graduating christian at a ceremony in which the majority wanted to hear an Islamic prayer. How would you feel? Be honest. The Muslims in attendance would probably say "what harm was done to any one at this event."

      >> "...the students threw their hats and went to party or eat with family and friends."
      And what did the agnostic family do? They got to miss seeing their son graduate and end up staying at home because of death threats from a bunch of christian thugs. Oh well, no party for them.

      >> "...it would have been polite to her audience to not pray. They were a captive audience and she should have considered their pont of view in planning her speech. This is an example of just because you can do something doesn't mean you should."
      I agree.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  18. Friend

    Separation of Church and State made Americans evil.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • LinCA

      It seems that it is religion that is making people evil. The christians in this country seem to be OK with trampling on the right of minorities. In particular the ones they don't care for (which includes most).

      June 6, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Oso

      Go away Adelina, fix your own country and quit sticking your nose in other business not your own.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Lin... Hi student. 🙂

      Lin, the statement that religion makes people evil I am wishing to engage you in. Can you go further into why you feel as such? We have spoken before and respect I have for your opinion. I don't agree with it but you have never thrown a tantrum when folks disagree with you.

      June 7, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • LinCA

      @Mark.

      When someone uses their holy book to justify and spread their hatred, that is evil. When someone forces their religious ceremonies upon a captive audience, that is evil. When someone tries to force religious beliefs and practices on others in place of sound science and medicine, that is evil.

      Don't get me wrong. I know not everyone is corrupted to the core by religion. You in particular seem to be reasonable and open to debate. But I contend that everyone who doesn't stand up against these abuses is, at the very least, complicit.

      Let's be clear. You don't have to like gays. You are free to pray as you see fit, and that includes individual>/b> prayer in public schools. And it doesn't even have to be silent. You are free to believe that you can heal with prayer. You are free to believe that the world was created pretty much as we see it today in 6 days. You have the religious freedom to be ignorant, willfully or otherwise. But EVERYONE, including those pesky atheists, have those same rights. Therefor, your rights end where mine, or those of anybody else, begin.

      When the religious folks bash, and discriminate against, gays, they infringe upon the rights of others. When they force pseudo-science into the classroom, they infringe upon the rights of others. When they allow and encourage prayer at public events they infringe upon the rights of others.

      If you willfully infringe upon the rights of others, you are evil. If you do it because of your religion, your religion makes you evil.

      Peace.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • LinCA

      Shit. That should have read:

      @Mark.

      When someone uses their holy book to justify and spread their hatred, that is evil. When someone forces their religious ceremonies upon a captive audience, that is evil. When someone tries to force religious beliefs and practices on others in place of sound science and medicine, that is evil.

      Don't get me wrong. I know not everyone is corrupted to the core by religion. You in particular seem to be reasonable and open to debate. But I contend that everyone who doesn't stand up against these abuses is, at the very least, complicit.

      Let's be clear. You don't have to like gays. You are free to pray as you see fit, and that includes individual prayer in public schools. And it doesn't even have to be silent. You are free to believe that you can heal with prayer. You are free to believe that the world was created pretty much as we see it today in 6 days. You have the religious freedom to be ignorant, willfully or otherwise. But EVERYONE, including those pesky atheists, have those same rights. Therefor, your rights end where mine, or those of anybody else, begin.

      When the religious folks bash, and discriminate against, gays, they infringe upon the rights of others. When they force pseudo-science into the classroom, they infringe upon the rights of others. When they allow and encourage prayer at public events they infringe upon the rights of others.

      If you willfully infringe upon the rights of others, you are evil. If you do it because of your religion, your religion makes you evil.

      Peace.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      "When the religious folks bash, and discriminate against, gays, they infringe upon the rights of others. When they force pseudo-science into the classroom, they infringe upon the rights of others. When they allow and encourage prayer at public events they infringe upon the rights of others."

      Very eloquently said. I agree completely.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Frogist

      @Friend: You are no one's friend.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Friend

      F U Frogist

      June 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Lee

      Friend – I don't know which of the thousands upon thousands of brands of Christianity you espouse, but if there was no separation of church and state, you would be forced into whichever sect du jour took over during the formation of our country. You would not be able to choose.

      Do you see the value in separation now?

      June 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Lycidas

      >>>"Let's be clear. You don't have to like gays."

      You keep harping on what I should or should not do. Try using that ol noggin for once and maybe we'll all be better for it. 😉

      June 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Lycidas

      You said:"You keep harping on what I should or should not do." in response to me saying:"You don't have to like gays.".

      Do you have a comprehension issue? Is English not your first language, perhaps? Or are you smoking something? If it's the latter, then why aren't you sharing. 😉

      June 7, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  19. Lary Nine

    I'll bet this Schlutz family are "plants" by the Christian Right... inserting their stupidity into the event to make non-Christians look bad. Nobody I know would ever support such publicity seeking nonsense the Schultz family is guilty of

    June 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Rev Dr Gregory D. Davidson

      Many people claim to be flag totiing Americans not realizing that when they are bashing Christianity, they are bashing the very people who gave them their rights and freedoms. No matter how you want to slice it, this country was founded on Biblical values by Christian men and women.

      Those of you who are fighting Christianity are fighting a losing battle.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Oso

      Gregory, we are winning everywhere people have intelligent brains that love truth and honesty.
      So of course where YOU are concerned we are not winning. Yet you are the loser nonetheless.
      How sad that someone who pretends to be educated has no clue. I meet people like you all the time.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!

      "...when they are bashing Christianity, they are bashing the very people who gave them their rights and freedoms. "

      Maybe, instead of them bashing the people who gave them their rights and freedoms it's more like the people who are, today, getting bashed are really insulting the Christian founders of this country with their idiotic statements...

      "this country was founded on Biblical values by Christian men and women."

      ...kind of like that one.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Fordham Jock

      @ Rev Dr Gregory D. Davidson
      Greg,
      Actually sir, your "loosing battle" remark seems incorrect. The demographic trends in the United States do not favor Christianity, but we would all be very interested if you could cite some examples of exactly which studies you use to support that as'sertion, doctor. As I understand it, the trends in Europe and the US, (the "Northern" church bodies, as opposed to the Global South), are somewhat dismal, but the only thing I have read lately is John Allen's "The Future Church", which mostly addresses Catholic demographic trends. I hear that Thomas Friedman's "The World Is Flat" may also have some statistics on this.
      In "http://www.religionnewsblog.com/25722/mainline-church-membership-decline-continues-but-more-slowly", the decline of church membership is doc'umented. Do you have something more current to cite ?

      June 7, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • John Richardson

      Yo Rev! Do your fatuous fulminations make you feel less schlubby? Cause they mak you look MORE schlubby. Just figured that it was the compassionate thing to do to tell you before you make yourself look like the Ultra Schlub by continuing this line.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • tommas

      The original settlements were founded by crazy christian refugees. The country was created by enlightened deists.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Rev Dr: No one in this country is fighting a war against Christianity... Seriously, your perpetual victim song is getting very dull indeed.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Rev Dr Gregory D. Davidson
      In 1797, President John Adams ratified the Treaty of Tripoli, which begins thusly:
      "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion"

      'Nuff Said

      June 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Oh I think atheists are up for that kind of childish legal tantrum. They just don't like seeing Christians finally getting equal rights, right? 😉
      So when you guys are ready to wear something larger than diapers, come see me, I have some man-roos for you all. 😉

      June 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Gotta love the system they have here. I have seen dirt cheap blogs and message boards that can control who is logging in as whom.

      I will say that while I do not agree with their view I do not believe them to be a plant. Wrong yes, but a agent of the right... no

      June 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • Jeremy80

      Well if Uncle Tom here thinks they aren't a plant by his masters, then of course he would know whatever they wanted him to know!
      Right, Uncle Tom?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  20. HotAirAce

    All believers have the right to make themselves look silly in public with their useless rituals. I encourage all believers to take a good look at those that believe in astrology – they are your predecessors on the tribal myth evolutionary tree.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Free

      Ah, the student had the podium and every school administration knows that they are at the kid's mercy at that point. Check this video out if you want some truly outrageous valedictorian comments. 🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Friend

      Go to hell Hot

      June 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • LinCA

      @noFriendofmine. There is no hell.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Friend

      F U Lin

      June 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Lee

      Good points, Friend.

      This case appears to be a student murmuring to her space daddy in front a croud. If a teacher, principal or superintendent did the same, that would be in violation of the separation of church and state. School sponsored prayer is not allowed. Prayer in school by students is silly, but fine as far as I understand the first amendment.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Friend! Thanks for contributing!

      June 7, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Friend

      Thank you for your articulate contributions. You certainly know how to further a conversation. I assume that you disagree with my support for the student praying in public.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Free

      HotAirAce
      Actually, the Bible is full of astrology. Even Jesus believed in it. What do you think they meant by seeing 'signs'?

      Regarding when the second coming should occur Jesus said "There shall be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars."
      Luke 21:25

      More at this site
      http://www.near-death.com/experiences/origen13.html

      Obviously somebody should have told Camping to check his horoscope before making his predictions, eh?

      June 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Free
      Re: signs, yet another indication that the bible is just a piece of bad fiction, but it doe not surprise me that believers would rely on astrology to suck the gullible in.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
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About this blog

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.