Thursday, May 8, 2014

Prayer at commencement


      Colleagues have asked what relevance, if any, the recent Supreme Court decision regarding prayer at City Council meetings has, or will have, on Westphal v. Wagner and the 2011 settlement of that lawsuit.
      Below is the first in a series of posts regarding that question.

* * *
     As you know, in response to the settlement of Westphal v. Wagner, the SOCCCD BOT adopted a resolution (#11-11) on April 25, 2011. [The resolution in its entirety is available here.]

     Here’s the relevant language:

The Resolution [excerpts]:
…[T]he board of trustees of the South Orange County Community College District FINDS, DECLARES, RESOLVES, and ORDERS that the following are adopted as official policies and practices of the district:
     The decision on whether to select a speaker to deliver personal remarks in the form of an invocation, moment of silence, of opening and/or closing message, not to exceed two minutes, at important District and college events shall rest within the sole discretion of the event planners….
. . .
     The content of the invocation or message, or in the case of a moment of silence, any introductory remarks by the selected speaker leading up to it, shall be prepared by the selected speaker, as his or her personal remarks, and shall not be monitored or otherwise reviewed by the Board of Trustees of the SOCCCD, its officials, or employees…. [My emphasis]
the person selected…shall be provided with a copy of this resolution…shall be informed of the District’s request that any personal remarks be non-sectarian; shall be informed that the opportunity to speak at a District or college event must not be exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief….
     As near as I can tell, the above policy is the status quo at the SOCCCD. The above policy has not been rescinded. (I doubt that it will be.)

     See also


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish we could have a rational discussion about what it means to have a "prayer" at an event like commencement - especially since the college president seems determined to have the same kind of prayer every year. He has never shown an interest in any faith tradition other than his own. He has shown no interest in the faith traditions - or lack thereof - of the students, faculty and staff around him.

Anonymous said...

I think an excellent compromise would be do an all encompassing invocation. Lets face it, we have a large Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and non-denominational community.

Anonymous said...

Exactly! And that way nothing is lost but much is gained. Why not?

Anonymous said...

Why have any sort of invocation? What's the point? Why not simply start the ceremony without all the sanctimony? Why am I asking these querstions?

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