Friday, March 23, 2018

Many Upset About Exclusion of Prayer at One Commencement

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles, World News


Controversy has erupted over a graduation ceremony at West Virginia University-Parkersburg after administrators decided to forgo prayer during the event.

About 44 nursing students were expected to be pinned during a ceremony Thursday night at the university. Weather issues cancelled the ceremony and it will now be held after Jan. 1. But the controversy was expected to go on.

Connie Dziagwa, university spokeswoman, said faculty and administrators had received a lot of emails and comments on local blogs that were critical of the decision to skip any public praying.

In the past, a local pastor has led an invocation and benediction at the ceremony. But the prayer was left out of the May commencement.

The graduating nurses were asked to vote on the issue, and only four students voted to withhold the prayer. That was enough dissension for faculty to omit prayer from the event.

“The ceremony is an institutional program,” Dziagwa said. “The decision was made on an institutional level. We took into account the student vote.

“Still, it comes down to that we want to honor all students’ religious preferences,” she said.

Prayer wasn’t done away with altogether. A moment of silent reflection was included instead.

Jeremy Dys, president of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia, said, “That’s politically correct speech for preventing religious freedom. And that is protected by the Constitution today.”

According to its website, the council advocates for policies that embrace the sanctity of human life, enrich marriage and safeguard religious freedom.

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