Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yet another FUBAR: the "commencement prayer" issue at IVC


     As you know, Karla Westphal, a math instructor at Saddleback College, has for many years urged the board to back off of its practice of prayer, especially sectarian prayer, at district and college events. She has enjoyed the support of academic senates and other groups. (The prayer issue in this district predates Karla's efforts of the last dozen or so years. It actually goes back at least 22 years.)
     Naturally, in defiance, the Wagner- and Fuentes-dominated board, with then-Chancellor Raghu Mathur, started laying on the religion mighty thick, which led to the “Westphal v. Wagner” litigation, of which I was a part. (See Prayer in the SOCCCD.)
"Loophole" Boy
     In the end, a settlement was reached according to which a “commencement committee” (actually: the group of "event planners") was supposed to decide independently—i.e., without the influence of trustees or college presidents—whether or not to have an invocation or prayer during commencement ceremonies. (See actual "resolution" below.)
     As you know, Saddleback College’s Tod Burnett immediately defied the prima facie demands of the agreement (evidently on the basis of an alleged “loophole” in the "resolution" produced by the settlement), overriding the commencement committee's decision not to have an invocation.
     Folks complained, but it didn't matter. Not to this board.
     Ah, yes. Exploiting a loophole. Reminds me of the conniveries of such heroes of yore as Steve Frogue and Tom Fuentes, always lyin' and cheatin' for the Lord.
     Meanwhile, at IVC, friends close to the action informed me that the relevant IVC committee was indeed making the determination regarding prayer according to Hoyle. So I backed off and let them be.
     By late Spring (2013), however, I decided to pursue the matter more vigorously. Was the “commencement committee” at IVC, assuming there was such a thing, duly deciding the prayer question—and without undue influence?
     But first thing's first. Is there such a committee? Is there a committee, anyway, that is charged with raising and answering the question of whether there would be a prayer at commencement? Just who are the "event planners"?
Rumored to be Glenn's
"spiritual guide"or possibly
Glenn's "spirit animal"
     On June 25, 2013, I wrote the Academic Senate President, knowing that she, if anyone, would be able to answer my question. In a friendly email, I wrote
     [A]s you know, the "Wagner v. Westphal" settlement essentially requires that the "commencement" committee will decide, independently of outside influence, whether to include an invocation/prayer. ¶ I do not recall how it is that the membership of that committee is determined. No doubt you do. Do we (the AS) appoint faculty members? I suspect that we do. ¶ If not, we need to consider changing that. ¶ Hope to hear from you. ¶ In either event, perhaps we can make this a higher priority next school year.
     The divine Miss S is known and celebrated for many things, but she is not known for speedy responses, and so I waited.
     On August 31, I received this response:
Hi Roy,
     There are several Commencement-related committees [she then notes the unclarity this situation creates]…. ¶ Scholarship awards (that’s the group that decides who gets what) Commencement speaker – for next year; this year (May 14) should already be decided but I don’t know the answer  ¶ Scholarship “oversight” TF [task force]– that is the one that started/restarted last summer to try to figure out how to make the system work. When that group was initially brought together, I thought that it was to look at scholarships and commencement issues, but apparently not. ¶ … and none, as far as I can tell, to look at the actual commencement exercises and how we arrange them. …[I]t appears that the commencement ceremony and associated [folderol] is a Helen L[ocke] - Glenn R deal. ¶ I will ask [IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore] about this at our next regular meeting.
     On that day (Aug. 31), I responded:
     Wow, if there is no "commencement committee" that oversees/plans the commencement, that's a problem. ¶ Do let me know how Glenn answers your question.

     I didn’t hear from Ms. S again (on this matter) for nearly four months—until today, Dec. 21:
"Let us pray" (& cheat) 
Hi Roy,
     It has taken many repetitive inquiries to ferret out an answer, because I kept getting partial answers. My response to you was further delayed because I tied together my notion of addressing what we see as a problem with this answer. I have not “fixed” it, but I think that I’m chopping away, and I did want to answer you in the same calendar year, even with a less than satisfactory answer. ¶ It seems to be “Student Services Council”, which in turn, has no faculty representation. In and of itself, no faculty is OK (parallel to, for example, Dean’s Council), but the problem, obviously, is that this group has purview over events in which faculty have interest and should have standing. So far, I have only been able to insert myself into these things informally and personally, which is a band-aid, not a fix. It is on the list for my first official meeting with GR next semester, to try to ‘convince’ Linda F of the virtues of inclusiveness…. ¶ Commencement is untied from scholarships, and we’ve been focusing on the latter since its timing is more critical. Thank you for your participation and voice in that discussion; I hope we can resolve those issues soon.
     —Well, I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned.
     So typical here at IVC. Everything's either encased in mud, obscured by fog, or operating (in a manner unknown & unhinged) behind closed doors in haunted and hollow A100.
     I think I'll contact this "Student Services Council" and ask how their "prayer" deliberations went last year. What do you suppose they'll say? (Normally, I'd contact Helen, but somehow I don't think that will work.)
     Here's my prediction. They'll say, "huh?" 
     Wanna bet?


Click on graphic to ENLARGE
Click on graphic to ENLARGE
Click on graphic to ENLARGE
     For an overview of the prayer saga at SOCCCD, see socccd prayer

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Attention to all employees who have atheist beliefs. Please report to your campus to work during the Christmas holidays. :) there are plenty of cig butts on the campus ready to be picked up.

Roy Bauer said...

Wrong model. Atheists don't have "atheistic beliefs." They refuse to adopt theistic beliefs, usually owing to a paucity of evidence for the latter.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a called a "semester break" - not "Christmas holidays.' Otherwise 2:36 should also be directing Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. to pick up trash too. What a seasonal spirit you exhibit, 2:36!

Soos said...

2:36 thinks she's clever and funny and friendly. Note the smiley face. 2:36 thinks that atheists and other non-Christians have Christians to thank for their holiday break. 2:36 isn't terribly bright.

Rebel Girl said...

I think we have the labor movement to thank for our holiday break. The weekend too!

Anonymous said...

Some prominent atheists... Benito Mussolini, Marquis de Sade, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Than Shwe, Kim Jong II, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Nice group of people to be associated with.

Anonymous said...

If those atheists could be the good Christians like Hitler, Catholic Priests, David Koresh, Jim Jones...

Anonymous said...

Do not feed the night owl troll who doesn't have anything better to do than engage in sophomoric reasoning. Poor guy. It is a guy, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Sad troll.

Anonymous said...

The ironic thing is this... the dissent blog stories is nothing but troll. just because you disagree with someone you call him/her a troll. if memory serves me right Jim Jones was not a Christian. I think he was a self proclaimed atheist. Your swell friend Hitler was not a Christian, he believed as Nazism as a science like religion, he hated Jews and Christians. Not all Catholic priests are bad, just like not all athletic coaches are bad. Nice try 8:10.

Roy Bauer said...

Do not feed the troll

Anonymous said...

My "swell friend Hitler" - thanks. Tell my family and friends that.

Anonymous said...

But the troll is so obviously starving Roy!

Anonymous said...

This whole prayer thing you keep resurecting seems like complainining for its own sake, as well as a cheap opportunity for oneupsmanship.

Why don't you concentrate on improving your teaching skills so your students actually learn something of value, like say, logic?

Merry Christmas, Roy.

Anonymous said...

How is it that you equate praying with hate?

Roy Bauer said...

I wrote "Prayin' and hatin'" under a photo of the Robertson clan, praying. I am suggesting that they pray and they hate (gays). Is there some correlation between their variety of religiousness and bigoted racism? You bet.

Anonymous said...

There is no correlation, Roy. Just because they can't accept the gay lifestyle doesn't mean they hate the gay.

Roy Bauer said...

Comparing homosexuality to bestiality: that's more than "not accepting." Be honest.

Anonymous said...

Keep "resurecting"? (I think you mean "resurrecting.")
I mention the prayer issue again because (1) one college President has already violated the spirit of the "Westphal v. Wagner" settlement and now, we seem to learn, possibly the other college President is doing the same (he would be doing the same if there were no commencement planners explicitly assigned the task of raising and answering the question of whether there should be a prayer this year).
As for improving my teaching skills: there is, of course, no conflict in doing both (improving teaching and watchdogging the Presidents re legal settlements). You have committed the "false dilemma" fallacy, my friend. --RB

Anonymous said...

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου·
ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου·
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου,·
ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς·
τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον·
καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν·
καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,
ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

Anonymous said...

Hey Roy,
A little bit of free advice. Don't get your panties up in a wad over prayer being said at the campuses. There are much more important things to work on: Working conditions, Accreditation, Student Success to name a few etc.
Nobody takes this two-bit rag seriously anyway.
Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

The reality is that the pen is not mightier than the sword. There is no restraining order or injunction that ever really protected anyone. Even with a constitution the British still came and attacked. Get real.

Anonymous said...

I do not know much about these duck dudes, so I thought I would dig deeper. From my investigations they seem like a good group of guys. I don't think they hate much of at all, and this Phil guy was just stating his religious beliefs. I found a video clip of him on YouTube, his comments from 1:12-1:46 seem sincere.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyL1xha_1aU
Please be more responsible in your writing.
That's how Salem Witch hunts began.
God loves you.

Anonymous said...

One of the academic problems is that students have been taught not to take a position in their writing. They approach it with the attitude of "who am I to judge?" Which is void of critical thinking; no position equals no arguments for or against, etc... Unfortunately this is a educational paradox created by our friends, the progressive do-gooders.

Anonymous said...

On Tuesday, Judge Harold Baer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a case in which eleven individuals, self-identified as Atheists and Secular Humanists, along with two associations, New York City Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), alleged that the national motto, “In God We Trust,” is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs’ sought to “strip the national motto from our Nation’s currency.”
The national motto serves as a reminder that the “source of inalienable rights [is found] in a Creator rather than the government precisely so that such rights cannot be stripped away by government.” :)

Roy Bauer said...

Westphal v. Wagner was brought by a group including theists who believe in the First Amendment.
The point of this post is that the district is not (or might not be) abiding by a mutually agreed upon settlement.
Get it?

Anonymous said...

I perfectly get it Roy from reading your little anti-Christian posts.


Roy Bauer said...

Anti-Christian posts? Please identify.

Anonymous said...

There is a significant subset of Christians who feel all put upon and "attacked," (witness the phony "war on Christmas) when their long term agenda of legislating dogma is challenged. Not a bright group.

Anonymous said...

Your foolish participation of filing a lawsuit restricting or preventing personnel to say Jesus during a prayer at district/college gatherings is anti-Christian.

Roy Bauer said...

Filers of that suit believe in the Constitution and in its 1st Amendment, which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…." They have no wish to prevent people from saying "Jesus." They oppose the government imposing Jesus (or Mohammed, et al.) on the citizenry. You really are quite stupid, aren't you? Pay attention.

Anonymous said...

Jeeze, you have a bad habit of calling people stupid when clarifying what you mean. I bet you do the same to your students in the classroom. Perhaps admin ought to eaves-drop on your classes to observe your conduct. Then they'll have good reason to give you the 'ole perp-walk.

Anonymous said...

I'd say it's time to let the little fundie troll run along. As the saying goes, arguing with such people is similar to trying to teach a pig to sing. It's bound to fail, and you annoy the pig.

Roy Bauer said...

Anyone who thinks that Westphal, et al., sought to prevent individuals from prayer really is quite stupid.
As for my students, why don't you simply ask them if I do that? They will report that I do not.

Roy Bauer said...

Wise counsel

Roy Bauer said...

pace pigs!

Anonymous said...

Well, as to your Duck Dynasty thing, looks like they gays lost. A&E is going to keep the show along with its leader! A victory for religious and traditional American values.

Roy Bauer said...

My Duck Dynasty thing? What is that supposed to be? Robertson's remarks--about gays and blacks--reveal, among other things, profound and disconcerting ignorance. That the network backed down from its initial position (if such is the case) settles absolutely nothing about the correctness of that position or their new one, whatever it is. I am not surprised that you are inclined to celebrate this "victory," a victory of ignorance and moral ugliness. You have fulfilled my expectation of you. Now go away.

Anonymous said...

A&E's statement: "While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the 'coarse language' he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article…." --6:52, you're an idiot

Anonymous said...

The Robertsons are the ones who are backing down, moron

Anonymous said...

Traditional American values = hatred, villification, and shameless attacks on others who happen to be different from the "norm." Or so some cretins believe.

Anonymous said...

The gays lost Duck and Chick Fil A. America 2, gays 0. Guess they'll have to go back to using the court again.

Anonymous said...

Hey Roy, makes yourself look bad that you call others stupid, not very wise. On the other hand I have heard Westphal speak at the BOT meetings. I could hear her hatred in her voice for God. It is very apparent in her words and actions she is anti God.

Roy Bauer said...

Whatever you say. Now go away.

Anonymous said...

Here is what the Commander of this "good group of guys" is on the record saying. Sounds like hatred and bigotry to me: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/19/phil-robertson-homophobic-2010-sermon_n_4475546.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=3117013,b=facebook

Anonymous said...

Here is a little cherub from Phil, just to "be more responsible in our writing". If this is not hatred and bigotry, what is? ~ "Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions," Robertson continued. "They're full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil. That's what you have 235 years, roughly, after your forefathers founded the country. So what are you gonna do Pennsylvania? Just run with them? You're doing to die. Don't forget that."

Anonymous said...

A victory for the CHRISTIAN religious, a defeat for the rest of us and, sadly, for the Constitution.

Roy Bauer said...

There's a flaw in your rhetorical strategy, dude

Anonymous said...

8:34, please explain how the Robertsons' backed down, you moron. They told A&E they were not going to continue the show without their leader, they were going to walk and A&E caved. They are mega rich and do not need a stupid show. Please explain how the gays won and the Robertsons' backed down... Waiting for your upside down explaination...

Roy Bauer said...

Old news, dude. Let's move on.

Anonymous said...

Quack!

Roy Bauer said...

Boom!

Biff said...

Good shot!

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