Student: Seniors united to acknowledge God at graduation

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, May 25, 2006.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Thank God for Christians like the young people in the following story who take a stand for Christ and have the boldness to make Him known.

    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23323

    Student: Seniors united to acknowledge God at graduation
    By Erin Roach
    May 25, 2006

    RUSSELL SPRINGS, Ky. (BP)--The senior chosen by her classmates to pray at a graduation ceremony said she was not surprised when one student filed a lawsuit that led to a judge telling her she could not lead the graduates in prayer.

    Megan Chapman, now a graduate of Russell County High School in Russell Springs, Ky., told Baptist Press the student, who considers himself an atheist, had raised similar objections in the past, such as when the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes distributed fliers that included Bible verses.

    “When I was told that I couldn’t say the prayer, I never really got frustrated because we’re in the world and not everything is going to go a Christian’s way,” Chapman said. “So I was not surprised that there were problems with this, although our school is in a Christian community.”

    Voluntary prayer had been a part of graduations at the school for decades without a complaint until May 16 when an anonymous graduating senior collaborated with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky to file a lawsuit claiming he was offended by graduation prayers.

    Just 12 hours before the ceremony May 19, U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinney ordered Chapman and school officials not to proceed with a scheduled prayer in the ceremony.

    Chapman said the senior class decided they wanted prayer to be a part of their farewell to the school, so she and her twin sister, Mandy, helped pass out small cards with the Lord’s Prayer printed on them so that anyone who wanted to participate in reciting it would know the words. Then they designated a student on the front row to signal the start of the prayer.

    “They all believed in God and wanted God in their graduation, and they didn’t want one student to make all that go away,” Chapman said.

    When the principal rose to deliver his opening remarks, about 200 students -- nearly the entire graduating class -- began to pray aloud on their own volition.

    “The most awesome part was when the seniors all came together and stood up to pray,” Chapman said. “I’m not a crying person, but when that happened, I had to cry. That was so unbelievable. It was awesome that so many people came together for God. When it came down to it, they chose God over all when they could have backed down.”

    The gymnasium packed with more than 2,000 people erupted in cheers, Chapman recounted.

    “I’m really thankful that God got the glory for it,” she said.

    Though he chose to remain anonymous in the lawsuit, Derrick Ping spoke with Lexington’s WKYT-TV about his motives May 24, claiming his fellow graduates, school faculty and members of the community would not listen to his views.

    Ping told WKYT that people in Russell County have been trying to manipulate his personal beliefs since elementary school when they handed out Bibles, and he said students at the high school teased him for being an atheist and called him names.

    “They said I am evil and evil cannot stand in the presence of good,” Ping said.

    Because he would not feel comfortable listening to a prayer during graduation, Ping contacted the ACLU and was pleased when the judge took his side. But prayer happened anyway.

    “They basically ruined the entire point of what I tried to do, so I guess I feel like I went to a lot of trouble for nothing,” Ping said of the rest of the class.

    He called ACLU officials again after graduation to inquire about possible penalties for students reciting the Lord’s Prayer after the judge had ruled against school-sanctioned prayer.

    “Jerry Falwell’s organization gave them the idea to stand up in the middle of it and do the Lord’s Prayer,” Ping told WKYT, referring to Liberty Counsel, which is representing Chapman, though Chapman said the idea came from the students. “The principal can claim he didn’t know anything about it, so there are a lot of loopholes there and the ACLU feels they don’t have enough evidence.”

    Ping said he is surprised no one in the community has physically harmed him after he filed the lawsuit.

    “I expected a few crosses burned in my yard,” he said, adding that he wants people to know that being an atheist doesn’t make him evil. “I don’t think I’m evil. I’m a nice guy. I’m adorable.”

    Eric Withers, youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Russell Springs, told BP he didn’t hear a single negative comment from people who attended the graduation ceremony. Russell Springs is a very religious community, he said, and most people were grateful for what the students had done.

    “I want to applaud them for standing up for their faith and being willing to stand up for truth when it was under attack,” Withers said. “They’ve done something to protect what they believe in and what is important to them, and I want to encourage them every step of the way.”

    Withers said Ping has attended youth events at First Baptist in the past.

    “I’ve urged [my students] to bring this young man before the Lord in their prayer time because he’s a nice kid,” Withers said. “I like him. I’ve worked with him in the school system and also in our church. He’s a kid who just needs the Lord, and we need to pray that God would open his eyes more than anything else.”

    When Chapman was told she could not pray at the event, she chose instead to talk about Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” and urge students to choose wisely the paths they will take in life. But she said it just didn’t feel right, and she scrapped the speech at the last minute -- opting instead to talk about God’s importance in her life.

    “She wanted to talk to them about the thing that was most important to her from the time she was 7 years old forward and she talked about how her life was guided by the Word of God,” Withers said. “She told students that when you’re out there in the world and you don’t know what to do, all you have to do is say, ‘Jesus, I need you.’”

    Rick Neff, pastor of New Victory Baptist Church in Russell Springs, where Chapman is a member, told BP he is pleased that she chose to use the platform her classmates gave her as a means for proclaiming the Gospel.

    “Megan is a wonderful example of a mature young Christian who believes in the Word of God and believes that Christ is not only her Savior but her strength, as she told the graduates,” Neff said. “She is a great example of our up-and-coming young Christians who want to make a stand on God’s Word, and we appreciate her very much.”

    Mandy Chapman, Megan’s sister, said the incident at Russell County High School is another example of God working in mysterious ways.

    “I think it proves that God can take a situation that looks like it’s anti-Christian and turn it into something that gives Him more glory than if the lawsuit had not been filed,” she said.

    Also in Kentucky, the principal of Shelby County High School, just east of Louisville, has said the school will not schedule any formal prayers during its June 2 graduation after receiving a letter from the Kentucky ACLU on behalf of a Muslim student who objects to Christian prayers, according to The Courier-Journal. Traditionally, invocations and benedictions have been given at Shelby County graduations.
     
  2. Marcia

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    I am not sure what to think of this, frankly. Imposing a prayer on people who don't want to hear it in a non-Christian setting is not my idea of being Christlike. How does saying this prayer in a defiant manner show Christ to non-Christians?

    Statistics show that most high school students in youth groups leave the church when they get to college. Maybe doing this together as a group for this graduation was easy but I wonder what will happen when they are surrounded by non-Christians in a university.
     
  3. bapmom

    bapmom
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    Marcia,

    the thing is that according to the article the Senior class had decided to have the Lord's Prayer at some point during the ceremony. In many areas our country operates on the majority vote wins. The majority wanted the prayer. The majority of the community wanted the prayer as well. Is it then fair that one dissenting voice got to outweigh all the others?

    One problem we have right now is that people have the idea that they have the right to not be offended. We do not have any such right. We have the right to say something, and speak out. But if the rest around us don't agree we very well may not get our way.

    Im sure that being surrounded by non-CHristians in a university will have little to no impact on at least the young lady who stood up and gave the speech. She wasn't the one who claimed an offense. Nor did the others who went ahead and said the prayer.

    The one who disagreed is the one who was so afraid of any view that disagreed with his own that he had to get a court order to try to suppress the expression of that opposing viewpoint. It was this boy who will not do well in a university setting unless that boy only surrounds himself with people who believe exactly as he does. Unfortunately, in today's universities this will most likely not be hard for him to do.
     
  4. Marcia

    Marcia
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    Bapmom, I see the points you are making. But is what we think is fair always the best thing in a case like this? What did this prove? Who did it help?

    In fact, the students disobeyed an order from a judge which I think can be argued to go against Rom. 13. Even if that is not the case, this seems more like an act of pride than anything. Saying the Lord's Prayer looks like an act of defiance -- shouldn't we reserve such things for worship?

    I see no benefits from this except that the students got satisfaction from defying a judge's order.
     
  5. bapmom

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    I understand your point too, Marcia, but I think the difference is that the judge ordered that it could not be a part of the official ceremony. The students and audience has the freedom to do what they want in regards to this as long as it is not an official part of the ceremony. The order said the girl was not allowed to lead in the Prayer. But what happened was a voluntary recitation, not part of the ceremony, and not led by the speaker.

    A judge cannot make an order that says we can't voluntarily decide to pray out loud if we feel like it as a group.
     
  6. billreber

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    Marcia, the students did NOT violate the judicial order. The article says: "U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinney ordered Chapman and school officials not to proceed with a scheduled prayer in the ceremony."

    The school obeyed what the judge said. There was NOT a scheduled prayer, but there WAS a spontaneous one! That does not violate the judicial order.

    Perhaps you think it would be better for the 199 who desired to pray to counter-sue the one who did not? That could REALLY get some talk going! I personally believe that prayer should be ALLOWED (not SPONSORED) at a graduation, if there are those graduating who wish to pray. This does not mean everyone is required to participate in prayer, but only that those who wish to do so, can.

    Cheers for the kids who prayed, and also for the one who challenged "school-sponsored" prayer.

    Bill
     
  7. Marcia

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    They did violate the spirit of the order, even if not the letter of it. But putting that aside, the more important issue to me is what good did this do? This is exactly the kind of thing that turned me away from Christianity (before I was a believer). It just seems smug to me. I don't see how this is Christlike.
     
  8. bapmom

    bapmom
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    Marcia,

    I mean no disrespect towards you, but sometimes those who want to be offended will be offended no matter what we do.....when we as Christians actually do something I mean. If as Christians we sit back and do nothing than most likely the world will not be offended by our actions. But as soon as we DO something they will find something to be upset about in it. We can't always let their offense dictate our actions. Otherwise we will be letting the world and their objections dictate how we act.

    The thing is that they do not apply these same standards to themselves. What about all the people who were offended by a court order dictating the exclusion of prayer in their own graduation ceremony? In this particular case there were more on that side than on the other side.

    I guess what Im trying to say is that I don't see their action as unChrist-like at all.

    ps. Im very glad that God overcame your objections and He won you over. [​IMG]
     
  9. shannonL

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    The young man might also think that what those
    "fanatics" have in their lives just might be real since they are willing to go against authority to give glory to a "Higher Authority".

    This kid had even been to youth events at area churches. No doubt the Spirit of God is already at work in his heart.
    BTW Marcia, the reason we have one little
    Muslim dude in another county in Kentucky being able to stop a decades long tradition of a "God" centered benediction etc.. is for the very attitude and idea you expressed.
    Actually I believe your playing devil's adovocate more than anything. Your thoughts on this particular post are kind of out of step with your other posts on other topics.
     
  10. Alcott

    Alcott
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    In cases like this, you frequently hear from 'church/state separationist' that if students want a ceremony that includes prayers and devotionals, their community may organize voluntary baccalaureate ceremonies as long as they are not sponsored by the public schools [and usually, if school officials take part they must disclaim any district authority for doing so].

    So, especially in the case of small one-highschool towns with a high percentage of churchgoing Christians, perhaps graduates can just skip the 'regular' graduation and get their diplomas to the miniterial alliance, or whatever body 'runs' the baccalaureate service, and accept their diplomas there with the desired agenda. At least see if that's how the small nonChristian minority really wants it, as opposed to the nasty imposition of a few words of praise at a time praise is very much in order for most.
     
  11. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    Luke 19:39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
    Luke 19:40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
     
  12. Magnetic Poles

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    Would you like it if a large group of Islamic students started chanting and praying to Allah during your child's graduation?
     
  13. bapmom

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    MP,

    I might not particularly like it, but I would not hold them in any disrespect for it, nor would I see it as something I should get a court order to stop.
    If I were in a Muslim country, and/or a place that was largely Muslim, I would actually expect it. Legally speaking I also agree with their right to do so.
     
  14. Revmitchell

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    It gloryfied God!And that takes priority every tiime.
     
  15. Marcia

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    Well, I'm not really playing "devil's advocate" and I don't think that this is out of step with my other posts on the BB. I knew I would get the responses that came - I'm not surprised. I've never been one to impose Christian prayers on others. I pray in restaurants because I'm at a private table. But I don't stand up in front of the restaurant and demand a right to say a prayer for everyone.

    I still do not see the point of doing this at a public school graduation. I think that if we keep defending and pushing things like this, we are going to start having to hear prayers to Allah, to the Goddess, to the Mormon God, or whatever, at future schools functions or graduations.

    There are many communities in the US where Christianity is not the majority. For example, where I live (Arlington Co., VA), it's 95% non-church goers. Only 5% of the people here even attend a church, and that includes Catholic churches. It may also include Mormons (Mormons are very heavily represented here). It's very secular here. The number of Muslims and other religions (esp. if you include Mormons) probably surpasses the number of even nominal Christians, much less the number of born-again believers.

    I see Christians get all heated up over something like this, but then they enjoy the Da Vinci Code, which is pure attack on the deity of Christ, on the church, and on the Bible, even suggesting things that I cannot post here. So how do you explain that?
     
  16. Magnetic Poles

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    Matthew 6

    5 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.

    6 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.
     
  17. Revmitchell

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    MP the key to understanding this verse is to understand that Jesus is concerned not with praying in public but the reason for it.

    He is concerned for the motive of the heart. The Pharisees loved to appear in public as superspiritual so that they would be praised and reverenced.

    This verse is not a mandate against public prayer.
     
  18. Magnetic Poles

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    Looks like you have done a bit of spin on the plain text there, Rev! [​IMG]
     
  19. Revmitchell

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    Really! How big is your closet? Does it have a door? Is it a closte used only for prayer or do you have clothes or linens in it also?

    Just wondering.
     
  20. Marcia

    Marcia
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    Comments? Especially the last paragraph.
     

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