Comments about ‘Believers, nonbelievers vent over religious expressions during graduation’

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Published: Wednesday, June 12 2013 11:15 a.m. MDT

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als Atheist
Provo, UT

Some simple mindedly think that "freedom" (religious, political, academic, or whatever) means being able to speak whatever you want, whenever you want, even if it is not relevant.

That is the problem here. As speakers at public academic celebrations, these students forgot that they were expected to speak in a way that is relevant to the purposes of the celebration.

As usual, religious zealots continue to hijack public gatherings in order to spew their hatred of all things secular and their non-believing fellow beings. They presume moral and theological superiority gives them justification to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of others, without regard for their "victims". Then when the inappropriateness of what they are doing is brought out, they play victim themselves and decry the loss of "religious freedom".

If I entered a Mormon Church during testimony meeting and stood to speak of my atheism, would you expect them to stop me? Of course, because my atheism is not "relevant" to the purposes of that meeting.

Keep your religious expressions appropriate, and respect the public space... or would you all like to start inviting me to speak in your testimony meetings?

American Fork, UT

I think it's time to scale back everything about graduation, especially high school grad. Which, by the way, should be your first graduation.

Ragnar Danneskjold
Bountiful, UT

Not everybody believes in the same things, or the same God as everyone else. As Don Byrd pointed out, it is simply selfish for people to assume that everybody would be interested in praying in the same way that you do in a public setting with many denominations.
I personally don't think it is a big deal for students to mention God in their speech. But, it should stay on topic. School officials should be somewhat limited in expressing their beliefs, and prayers probably shouldn't be happening as part of the ceremony. But it should be fine for a student to express their beliefs.

And by the way als Atheist, I have heard far less relevant things discussed in testimony meeting than your lack of belief in a God.

AZ Blue & Red
Gilbert, AZ

To the Atheist you remind me of my brother but he had a change of heart a few weeks before he passed from cancer. Even so I have to agree with you that there is a time and place for things. People should respect what they have agreed to. As much as we need to stand up for what is right, deviating from an agreed upon subject or talk is not being courteous, honest or thoughtful. On my mission in the dark ages I was asked to speak to the Kiwanis club. This was made up of CEO’s and high ranking officials from Coleman, Cessna, Beech, Boeing, Government etc. I was asked to talk on Family Home Evening. If I had decided to take this opportunity to give the story of the First Vision or the Plan of Salvation my reputation and that of the Church would have been compromised.

At work we are not allowed to do things such as goof off, play, preach, sell, influence or recruit outside of work related things. They pay us to do that which we agreed to do. If we violate these rules there are consequences.

george of the jungle
goshen, UT

Righteous or cool, respectful or honorable. It's honorable to respect the rules. it's cool have stile. It's righteous to love your neighbor as your self. As a tax payer they is on the hook for student lones, foreclosed homes, bank bailouts and the give away money to wall street and AIG It's too bad brains can't be repossessed for, because they are not using them.

Poplar Grove, UT

I don't know that this sort of expression should be banned. But if you do it your a close minded self righteous jerk who will get a wake up call if you try this type of stunt at an actual job.

Vernal, UT

Some where we've gone from majority rule, (we all vote and then do what the majority choose) to where if one person doesn't like something then nobody else can do it. That said, I agree with the school that turned off the mike. The rule was if you didn't give the approved speach the mike would be turned off. If the speaker didn't like the rule they didn't have to talk.

Eldersburg, MD

The "freedom verses tolerance" debate that rages on with this graduation speech demonstrates freedom has been compromised with subjective tolerance. No one can please all groups because ideology is so diverse in this day that a consensus is not to be found.

But, do we censor those who wish to affirm personal beliefs in public forums just because people have convinced themselves of grievous offenses for statements contrary to their personal beliefs?

The gay advocates don’t hesitate one bit on promoting acceptance and tolerance across the board, which also happens to be offensive with many Christians and other religions who believe such things to be morally wrong. Yet, Christians are expected to roll over and conform to the gay rights culture movement that will overturn many traditional values and institutions.

Why then, the great offense of one lone person who wishes to affirm Christian beliefs, which most certainly stems from frustration over the double standard with what has become "acceptable" for public display. This is all part of the truthfulness about the subtle war on Christianity in the west, and the inherent bias, double standard, and hypocrisy of tolerance for some causes and intolerance for others.

salt lake, UT

@eternal perspective
as long as your religion insist in enshrining its beliefs into our civil laws and force others to live by your religious dictates you are not the victim you are the oppressor and those that dare speak out against such power will forever have my admiration. Having said that I personally have no problem with a kids choosing of his on volition to speak of their beliefs, I do however have problem with it when the school actively endorses it.

Steve C. Warren

As a Christian, it bothers me that in so many of these church-state controversies the side that displays the rudest and most disrespectful behavior usually is the one that professes to be Christian.

Eldersburg, MD


I don't blame you for feeling the way you do about religion in general. After all, history is littered by awful things done to people out of the name of religion and God.

But, to be fair and specific, how does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints characterize your description of oppression and submission to their beliefs?

If you've had personal experiences with members who have mistreated you in these ways, or created such perceptions, than I am truly sorry those things happened because they shouldn't. But, if you are condemning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in general as a religion because you see them all the same, then please do show proof to back up these statements.

Does a school have to endorse the speech of valedictorian, or does the school's views depend on what they say? Aren't students free to express something as innocuous as an affirmation of spiritual beliefs? Much worse things are imposed upon many in this nation by liberal leaning groups and yet attempts to publically silence are not present.

salt lake, UT

@eternal perspective
what specifically has the LDS church, not just some individual, members) done? should we start with their backing with both their money and man power of amendments in several state constitutions to exclude same sex couples from marrying?

As to your second question yes the student is free to express himself that was my point, The school should however remain out of it.

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

"as long as your religion insist in enshrining its beliefs into our civil laws and force others to live by your religious dictates you are not the victim you are the oppressor and those that dare speak out against such power will forever have my admiration"

ironic since it is YOU that has advocated banning therapy simply because it does not conform to your narrow world view. it is YOU who advocates no exceptions for individuals who have moral objections to paying for abortofacient drugs etc.

Couching moral rigidity in terms of political correctness is an even more dangerous form of religious zeal than the more traditional forms, because it enjoys the oppressive weight of popular culture Yet in the end, you demand a tolerance you fail to offer in return

as you say: you are not the victim you are the oppressor and those that dare speak out against such power will forever have my admiration

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

Your argument of being appropriate is interesting and has a certain validity
However; I do not belong to any church
Yet years ago a Baptist minister offered a prayer at my graduation
I thought it entirely appropriate that a person wish me well in their own way
I chose to see it as a compliment to my life
I have since been blessed by many others

Therefore I am inclined to believe your concern for appropriateness is really no deeper than a need to feign offense in order to rationalize an intolerance and desire to censor ideas that YOU choose not to tolerate

I applaud those who choose not to tolerate passive/aggression

the truth
Holladay, UT


Religious speech and expression is protected just as nay other speech and expression.

The constitution does not protect you from hearing things that offend you or you do not like or do not agree with.

In fact such speech is exact and only reason for the 1st amendment.

I find it preposterous that any "real and serious risk and "has caused great harm" to hearing a prayer or expressions of faith.

I find there is much more non-religious speech and expression that has actually caused great harm that you described.

It looks me you are just inventing excuses to ban speech and expression you don't like, don't agree with, and don't want anyone else to hear.

salt lake, UT

@The truth
The comment about harm was in reference to an earlier discussion on another thread related to reparative therapy not free speech. If you slow down and read all my post on this thread you will see I agree religious speech is and should be protected like any other speech.

Eldersburg, MD


Actually, it was not the LDS Church as a whole that backed proposition 8, because their official mantra is to stay out of politics. However, because that proposition defilea the sanctity of marriage ordained by God between a man and woman, this is not just a political issue. Rather, it attacks God's original commandment for a man to cleave unto his wife to multiply and replenish the earth.

But, all those things aside, was is oppressive about even top level LDS officials going against legistation to change the very definition of marriage? Is it not an American privilege of freedom to support causes that align with beliefs? Since when is that oppressive? I think you are confusing oppression with assertion of beliefs. These two are quite different from one another.

What other evidence is there that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is oppressive, tyrannical, or otherwise trying to take control of people's free will? If you look at its history, the Church has always been central to the preservation of free will as a cornerstone in God's plan. It is the liberal majority in this country that now seeks to oppress Christianity.

als Atheist
Provo, UT

Well, we could look at this the other way around.

Religious zealots want their voices heard in the public square. They want to legislate "morality" according to their gods, their scriptures, and their prophets. They want publically funded properties and institutions to be available to be used by believers to place their nativity scenes, and hold their prayers in publically funded schools.

In short, they want to be able to use MY tax dollars to advance their religion.

OK. So in the name of "no taxation without representation," I and my atheist fellow Americans will gladly support such mingling of religious influence with public and government IF and only if:

- You have me, an atheist, ordained a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, so that I can represent the atheist tax dollars in decision-making

- An atheist is appointed to the top leadership councils of the Southern Baptist Convention, to represent the atheist perspective there

- As there are twice as many atheists in the US as there are Mormons or Jews, and "Nones" are about 20% of the population, a non-believer/unaffiliated person must give every fifth talk in all religious meetings.


Phoenix, AZ

Crazy, religion drives people to crazy extremes with little regard for civics.

spring street

@eternal perspective
"Actually, it was not the LDS Church as a whole that backed proposition 8, because their official mantra is to stay out of politics."

Actually as recently as February of this year the LDS church itself has been actively involving itself in politics when it filed a brief to the supreme court in support of upholding prop 8. This inability to tell the truth not really helping you.

"I think you are confusing oppression with assertion of beliefs. These two are quite different from one another"

Actually no I think they are not confused at all. You do have every right to use your freedom to assert yourself and your beliefs. When you use that voice to pass laws that force others to live by your religious dictates that becomes oppression.

You are free to believe and speak out about your belief that marriage is sanctioned by your version of god in your way as much as you like but when you force others to live by those beliefs then it is oppression.

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