The George Washington University, like many other schools, has an invocation prayer during graduation ceremonies. Of course, there’s no reason for prayers to be said by school officials at a public school ceremony.
John Beers, an atheist at the school, tried to put an end to that:
Beers spoke up during last week’s SA senate meeting, saying he finds the University’s practice of conducting an invocation and benediction during Commencement “extremely disheartening.”
“It doesn’t seem right to me to be inserting something [religious],” said Beers, a senior. “We’re brought together for a common goal, not to pray.”
Beers is also the president of SKEPTIC, a student organization that serves as a home for atheists and agnostics on campus.
“It’s supposed to be inclusive of the entire student body, and that includes people of faith and not of faith,” Beers said. “They say ‘We don’t mean to exclude anyone,’ but that’s exactly what it’s doing.”
The University Marshal, Jill Kasle, has said the invocation prayer will continue as scheduled.
Her reason for it is pathetic:
“It is our custom to invoke God’s blessing on the graduating class on their last day at GW as they go onto the world,” Kasle said. “It is a tradition of long standing, and we are simply following the protocol of the event.”
Custom and tradition — Poor reasons for carrying on with many unnecessary activities.
Kudos to John for speaking up. If more students had the guts to do what he did, surely the prayers would disappear from more graduation ceremonies.