I was amazed at the overt Christianity. There was a prayer at the beginning, and again at the end. The commencement speeches were full of references to God.
My own public high school was roughly one-third Jewish, so this wouldn’t have flown. Someone would have sued, and rightfully so. A Jewish student should be able to go to his own public high school graduation without being told he needs to pray to Jesus Christ.
But out in the sticks, I guess, that sort of thing was okay.
Being a lawyer, I approached the father of the graduate, knowing he was not religious, and asked if he would like to bring a lawsuit against the school district. He said he found the ceremony offensive, but that he owns a business in that town, and he was certainly not going to bring a lawsuit just because they turned his son’s graduation ceremony into a revival meeting. Fair enough. I let the matter drop.
I was reminded of that incident last week when the 7th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the Elmbrook School District, alleging that it violated the Establishment Clause by holding graduation ceremonies in a church.
Apparently, it wasn’t even the district’s idea, but that of the students. It seems they liked the church because it was big enough that students could invite lots of guests, it was air conditioned and had lots of parking. The gymnasium where the district previously held ceremonies was none of the above. And the ceremony itself was not religious, in contrast to the one I attended many years ago.
But, people sued anyway, just because the ceremony was in a church. Based on the above circumstances, the court held the ceremony did not violate the Establishment Clause.
One of these days, though, I’d like to see an Establishment Clause case brought against a public school district challenging what is really the religion taught in the schools and practiced at graduation ceremonies: a sick blend of socialism and environmentalism.
Despite all the Christian prayers at that graduation ceremony I attended, they were but a drop of water in a sea of mindless dreck about how public service is nobler than working for or founding a for-profit corporation, and how the students should go on in life to protect the environment from us evildoers who work in the private sector.
Even out in the boonies, where no one bats an eye at Christian prayers at a public school graduation, the one true faith that the government has established is actually worship of more government. Despite all the talk of Heaven in the afterlife, the real goal is Heaven on Earth, to be achieved by eliminating the private sector and making us all good little jobholders (that’s an archaic term for bureaucrats, for those of you who haven’t read your Mencken).
As far as I’m concerned, I have a First Amendment right to attend a public school graduation ceremony without having the false gods of socialism and environmentalism shoved down my throat.
In the Elmbrook case, the court held that merely holding the ceremony in a church did not convey the idea that the school endorsed that religion. In contrast, the government does endorse the worship of government, and any reasonable person in attendance at a graduation ceremony would know that the government is engaged in proselytizing.
So, does anybody who has a child in high school want to sue a school district?