It’s not every day when a group guilty of violating church/state separation fixes the problem immediately and thoroughly, and then goes out of its way to do even more than what was requested in the first place.
First billed as the Norfolk State University Prayer Breakfast, this event celebrates the university’s 80th anniversary and Founder’s Day. The event was intended to be an interfaith breakfast where “[u]nder the theme of Forging Onward through Prayer, Education and Service, nationally acclaimed civil rights activist Revered Al Sharpton will be the featured keynote speaker. Additional prayer will focus on our youth, the less fortunate, world peace and social justice, and equality and reconciliation by our Faith Partners Network of religious leaders.” NSU was also selling tickets to the religious event.
That’s a lot of religion being promoted at a university event, and that’s why FFRF sent a letter to the school’s Interim President about how the school couldn’t promote faith like that.
“While Founder’s Day is certainly worthy of celebration, any events NSU puts together in commemoration of this day must conform to constitutional strictures … it is illegal and inappropriate for a public university to host, organize, support, or otherwise promote a patently religious event like a prayer breakfast.”
Here’s what incredible: NSU did the right thing and so much more.
They changed the name of the event to the Founder’s Day Breakfast.
They changed the theme to “Forging Onward Through Education and Service” (minus the “Prayer”).
And here’s the kicker:
The biggest victory is that NSU invited a secular humanist to join the panel of interfaith leaders and represent secular humanism and nonfaith at this historic event. Dr. Tiffany Green, assistant professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, is excited to participate in this event. She notes, “As a proud graduate of an HBCU, Florida A&M University, I am delighted to participate in tomorrow’s Founder’s Day Breakfast at another prominent HBCU, Norfolk State University (NSU). By acknowledging the role of secular humanists in creating a better world for our children, NSU has demonstrated its commitment to inclusiveness and equality.“
How great is that? Good for NSU for handling this so well. You wish they had done it all sooner, but I’ll take this response anytime.