On Sunday night, a baccalaureate service was held for students at Danville High School in Kentucky.
For those unfamiliar with the ritual, these events are a religious alternative (or addition) to secular graduation ceremonies. They’re completely optional for students and as long as the administrators/teachers aren’t involved in the planning or promotion of it, there should be no legal problems.
Indeed, this event seemed to go over just fine with everybody involved.
Except for a couple of parents who were offended that a Muslim student was allowed to speak at the event…
Angela Allen, who writes at Wicked Blog, couldn’t believe what she was hearing:
Rather than a prayer for this traditionally Christian event in this small, Christian, Central Kentucky town, the speaker — a student — started chanting in Arabic, followed by a call to Allah, and then she started chanting again. I honestly can’t describe the anger that rose in me. We didn’t stay long enough to hear the rest of what was going to happen… but perhaps we should have.
I just have to wonder… what has happened to my school, my college, my town?
They weren’t the only ones angry. Another lady told them afterwards:
“I’m so angry I’m literally SHAKING!” she said. “I can’t believe this, I spent the whole program praying that those in the audience would be delivered from this.” She continued to bemoan the evening’s events for some time.
In a recording posted on Allen’s site (and which I have mirrored in case she takes it down), you can hear them walking out around the 1:55 mark. Because that’s how you show your respect for a student speaker during one of the most important moments in her young life.
Last night, during a school board meeting, this subject came up and I’m happy to say the board and the administration were on the right side of the issue:
While the event was not a school-run event, Danville Independent Schools issued a statement Monday evening in support of the diversity shown at the baccalaureate.
“At the event, words of hope, acceptance, well wishes, and joy emanated from a diverse set of presenters, which included a student of Muslim faith, the men’s choir of the First Baptist Church, a parent, and a professor of religion from Centre College.
“Though neither the Board of Education nor the school district organize or sponsor baccalaureate services, we take this opportunity to express our congratulations to the wonderful diversity of students that compose this year’s graduating class, like many before and many more to come. In the Danville Schools, all means all…”
DHS Principal Aaron Etherington said he was proud.
“We have so many at Danville High School that represent diversity with high regard. I’m proud of our senior class and all the individuals in the class,” Etherington said.
Well done, Kentucky! (I don’t think I’ve ever written that before…)
By the way, Allen — who says she’s “never been a particularly religious person” — would like you all to know she’s totally not a bigot.
She just thinks religious ceremonies should honor the Christian faith and no other one:
… I’m not a bigot, close-minded or against everything that’s not like me. I’m neither a religious nut of any flavor, nor am I in alignment with many who would spew hate from the other side of the fence…
What I am TOTALLY against this “politically correct” society that continually tramples the traditions of others in the name of open-mindedness and progressiveness…
Case in point: Had this been a traditional Muslim event, and the invocation had begun with a Christian’s speaker’s statement that there was no way for salvation other than through Christ, I would have ALSO walked out. Why? Because, given the audience, the traditions, and the faith of that group — that statement would have represented a total lack of respect and propriety.
Wrong place, wrong time. Ditto for last night.
Apparently, the existence of non-Christians in her community is too “politically correct” for her to handle.
Allen might be surprised to learn that baccalaureates tend to be interfaith events these days since, even in Kentucky, not everyone is Christian. If she wants a Christian-only event, I’m sure her church will oblige.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Melody for the link)