When the University of Georgia in Athens holds its graduations (about three a year), they have someone recite a prayer at the ceremony. It’s always a “sectarian” prayer that leans Christian — kind of like all those “non-denominational” prayers people recite before so many city council meetings…
The UGAtheists are trying to put a stop to that. They’d rather see a secular observation that is far more inclusive than what they currently hear.
Already, though, they’ve hit a standstill.
They sent a letter to the Commencement Planning Committee and received this response from them (click to enlarge):
Basically, the committee says, “We don’t mention Jesus so we’re not doing anything wrong.” Referring to a higher power? Doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Here’s a sample graduation prayer (PDF) from 2009 — one that they feel is perfectly appropriate for everyone:
Oh God, on this beautiful spring day we gather to honor these who have completed their degrees, and who will soon embark on the next stage of life’s journey.
We are thankful for the University of Georgia, the administrators led by Dr. Adams and the faculty who have mentored and taught these graduates during their education.
We are thankful for the family and friends gathered here today in support of these graduates.
This afternoon we reflect back with thanks on the lessons learned while at this remarkable institution:
We offer thanks for the many professors who have not only taught information, but also a love for learning, both in and out of the classroom.
We offer thanks for our colleagues who not only made pursuing further education fun, but also helped to mold these graduates into the scholars they have become.
As poetically stated in our alma mater, this morning these graduates
“Take their rightful place
Side by side into the future
Equal dreams embrace”
As these men and women pursue their dreams, may each continue to seek knowledge, pursue truth, and have a desire for justice for all people.
Temper all of their pursuits with love and compassion.
God give these graduates a global perspective. May their sights be set not only on advancing their own needs and desires, but the needs of all peoples with whom we share this ever-shrinking planet.
In these uncertain economic times, we ask for your guidance, Oh God, as these men and women continue or begin careers. May their places of employment be such that their gifts are appreciated and nurtured, so that each will thrive and bloom to his or her fullest potential!
God, as these men and women leave this place as alumni, guide and protect them, and keep them safe for many good days ahead. Bring them back to this hallowed ground of learning in future days to celebrate the long and healthy journey that began here.
God bless these graduates, and God bless the University of Georgia. Amen.
Why on earth would any atheists have a problem with that…? Who knows…
Question to readers: Is there anything the UGA atheist group can do from here? If legal options are not available, what would be the proper response?
While the UGAtheists figure out their next steps, you can support them by Liking their “Stop Pray At UGA Graduation” Facebook page.