This year’s graduation ceremonies in at least one Texas school district were the subject of the latest round of censorship. Or maybe not!
The school district announced a week before graduation that it was changing the program and the selection method for students participating in the program. The district would no longer schedule an invocation or benediction. And students would no longer be voting on whom among their peers would deliver these prayers.
Effective immediately, the district would comply with state guidelines and randomly select a graduate to deliver opening and closing remarks. If the students who are randomly selecting choose to make their remarks a prayer, that is perfectly acceptable.
As one might imagine, there was a bit of a dust up in the community concerning the change in the official programming of the ceremonies. Some cried “foul!” Some cited this as one more level of “religious persecution.”
My guess is, if the district had not announced the change, very few, if any would have noticed that no one was officially praying at the ceremony.
Without a doubt, I’m in favor of prayer. Yet, I question the use of it in per functionary ways. Invocations seem odd to me, especially when trying to get the Christian God’s attention. Didn’t he say he’d always be with us?
And when the occasion is a mix of belief systems, how do we respond when the person praying is of a different belief system?
Prayer is a conversation. I agree we should be thankful and offer prayers accordingly. But the prayers don’t have to be public or for show.
Jesus challenged his listeners to pray in secret and not on the corner for all to see. (Matthew 6:5ff)
Prayer has not been outlawed. Instead, prayer is encouraged rather than required.
Possibly, this type of prayer will be more genuine , especially when willingly offered by a randomly selected High School Graduate if he or she so chooses.