Phi Beta Cons

When Ninety Percent Isn’t Enough

Over at ADF’s Academic Freedom File, Travis Barham tells a story that perfectly illustrates the bizarro world of public religious expression. West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s nursing school asked its students whether they wanted prayer at their “pinning” (graduation) ceremony, and the answer was a resounding “yes” — by a 40 to 4 vote. The students even selected one graduate’s father to deliver the prayer.

So what did the school do? Cancel the prayer, of course. Because the vote wasn’t unanimous, officials were concerned that an offended student would sue.

Yet federal courts have always upheld prayers at college (though not high-school) graduations, and if the school (mistakenly) believed the practice was unconstitutional, why did it let the students vote in the first place? One has the sneaking suspicion that the school values some students’ feelings more than others, and when it comes to cleansing religion from the public square, the desires of the religious forty count less than the sensitivities of the dissenting four.


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