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Old 05-31-2011, 09:56 AM   #1
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Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

Although this was 10 days ago, I only took knowledge of it now.

Quote:
The 2011 senior class of Bastrop High School may recall their commencement as the "ACLU graduation" in the years to come.
At Ram Stadium on Friday night, 242 graduates received their diplomas amid slight controversy.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana urged Stacey Pullen, principal of Bastrop High School, to respect the First Amendment and ensure Friday night's graduation did not include a prayer as originally proposed.
Senior Damon Fowler had reportedly objected to the planned prayer and informed the Morehouse Parish School Board about his objection, saying it violated his right to a ceremony free of government-endorsed religion. After he complained to school authorities — and said he would contact the ACLU if necessary — school officials reportedly removed the prayer from the
program.
However, during the event, fellow senior Laci Rae Mattice called for a moment of silence but expressed her opinion first.
"I want to ask for the Lord's blessings upon us," Mattice said, followed by cheers and applause from the audience. She then led the audience in the Lord's Prayer, "if they wanted to."
Pullen said Mattice was instructed not to mention anything about religion and only observe the moment of silence. She said she was unsure if the ACLU or Fowler would seek legal action against the school.
Morehouse Parish Superintendent Tom Thrower, who attended the event, had little to say on the matter.
"It speaks for itself," Thrower said.
In amending the program, school officials suggested that Fowler, and other students who object to school-sponsored prayer, should respect the majority of their classmates, according to a statement from the ACLU.
"The First Amendment prohibition on government endorsement of religion exists to protect the minority from the majority," said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. "Freedom of religion belongs to everyone, not just those whose views may be more popular than others."
At the Thursday night rehearsal for the graduation, another senior, Sarah Barlow, said a prayer with reference to Jesus Christ. The prayer was listed in the graduation program, which had to be reprinted at taxpayer expense.
"Taxpayers should not have to spend money fixing problems caused by violations of the law," Esman said. "Public school officials must remember that they have a duty to uphold the law, to protect the rights of all of their students, and that any failure to do so costs money that should be spent in the classroom. Religious freedom has flourished in this country because we do not allow the government to promote one faith over others."
This was not the first time the ACLU has threatened to get involved in events at area schools.
In 2008, former Monroe City School Board member Brenda Shelling refused to apologize for mandating a healing prayer at a back to school rally. Monroe Federation of Teachers president Sandie Lollie said at the time the federation could seek assistance from the ACLU to take legal action against Shelling.
In a similar incident, the 2007 graduating class of Ouachita Parish High School voted unanimously to honor the tradition of prayer at their commencement. The graduation climaxed weeks of tension surrounding the constitutionality of graduation prayer, a questioned raise publicly when the ACLU warned the school and its governing board that including a prayer in the ceremony could lead to legal action.


But that's not all: Damon Fowler's parents disowned him and he had to move to Texas, where his older brother lives. The Friendly Atheist site exposed the case and is hosting a fund-raiser for the guy.

So what's your opinion on this whole ordeal?
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:08 AM   #2
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

This may be the worst article I have ever read. I don't mean the subject, but the writing and style. For me it is horrible. I honestly couldn't decipher what was actually going on.

So I guess, that the Fowler was against a Prayer. But they did the prayer anyway. And Fowler was disowned by his parents, why?
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:15 AM   #3
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

Simple: If you are going to, as government body, promote the idea of freedom of religion, every organization, group or institution under you should be free of religion. Anything else, must be predetermined (such as Catholic schools) but if you are to fund them, you must be prepared to fund other religious instituteds (Muslim schools, Jewish day camps, Snake-Charmer Lamaze classes). Easier to stay out of it all together.

The problem being that the US and pretty much all of the Americas are countries founded by Christian explorers (once they did away with that whole aboriginal complication), so they are based on Christian values that run longer and deeper. The subsequent immigration and prosperity of the last 60-70 years have diversified the nations political, religious (or lack of) and social views and, while constitutions promote freedom of religion and separation of church and state, it doesn't truly exist and the majority sets the agenda.

On a more basic level, religious groups are bound to push these things as freedoms - I have the freedom to tell of the wonders of Jesus Christ - and get it approved as their right, while atheist groups, who have every right not to be subjected to it or have decisions that affect them made in religious terms, can't make the same "religious" statements freely - There is no god - because it will be deemed hateful and discriminatory against religious rights. Even though it isn't. Thus atheists are on the back foot and these sorts of fights are going to end in losses because it ends up more trouble than it is worth.

See also how the Western world deals with Islamic issues, for as militant as Christians get, they don't have the same fervor as some Muslim groups and many issues end up being ignored because they are too troublesome to fight over (I could note many examples of Sharia Law which should never be even thought of as acceptable in society of 2011). It is a very sticky situation that, honestly, requires people to fight for the freedom of rights, particularly from atheists who need it to be accepted that the lack of religious views should be protected and the idea of Church/Synagogue/Mosque and State is paramount to a free and equal society. Government must represent all and to do so they must not rule with religion but with common sense.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:26 AM   #4
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

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Originally Posted by Nerox View Post
This may be the worst article I have ever read. I don't mean the subject, but the writing and style. For me it is horrible. I honestly couldn't decipher what was actually going on.
I went with the most neutral article I could find. The other were more biased for or against, to the point of dubbing Damn Fowler as "evil atheist" (I'm not making that up).

Quote:
So I guess, that the Fowler was against a Prayer. But they did the prayer anyway. And Fowler was disowned by his parents, why?
Long story short, Damn Fowler noticed that the public school he attended included a public prayer in the graduation event and he rightfully noted the principal that it was against the First Amendment and the separation of church and state.

The school, to prevent the ACLU from burning their asses into a crisp, changed the prayer into a moment of silence. Of course, Damon's colleagues, teachers and townspeople didn't like that one bit, and started to verbally harass him (his teacher even said he wasn't doing anything of value and he was just causing problems because theists of other religions and atheists didn't say a word before) and even threat him with death, and even the graduation organizers wanted to put Damon as the last to receive his diploma (thankfully, the school put him right back to the spot he was in the original alignment.

So the rehearsal of the event starts and, when it reaches the moment of silence, a female student that was assigned to anounce said moment of silence basically says "I can't do it anymore, fellow Christians, let's pray!" and everyone applauded her and prayed with her, as to mock his colleague. And guess what, even if the female student was taken from her assignment, another student did the same at the graduation event.

About his parents disowning him, it was pretty much because they were fervent Christians and he did what he did.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:47 AM   #5
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

Ah, so Fowler got harrassed...didn't seem to be in the article. It is widely known that most of the US are hypocrats when in comes to freedom of religion. I am an Atheist myself, and hate that God is mentioned even in our constitution. Religion should be clearly seperated from gouvernment bodies, such as schools etc. And fundamental christians are as bad as any other fundamentalists.
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:46 AM   #6
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

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Ah, so Fowler got harrassed...didn't seem to be in the article. It is widely known that most of the US are hypocrats when in comes to freedom of religion.
What boggled my mind is that, even after acknowledging that the constitution is on Damon's side, they simply didn't care. They are the future of the country and they openly and proudly put themselves above what the founders of the US and other people, like Frances Willard, Ida B. Wells, Rose Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., fought for.

Like the 20th century witnessed the movements for women's suffrage and the African-American civil rights struggling and winning in the end, this beginning of the 21st century is witnessing the struggle of the LGBT and atheist communities that, even if the law protects said communities, they are being unfairly persecuted. Again I emphasize, the students of this school are the future, and instead of promoting comprehension and unity among them, we have this spectacle of bigotry.

And I'm not even touching all the layers of wrongness associated with the parents.

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I am an Atheist myself, and hate that God is mentioned even in our constitution.
I'm sorry, but what? Of all places, Germany would be my last guess for such a thing to happen. I'm sorry for evoking it, but didn't the Holocaust teach German politicians better than that? Even we, after almost 50 years of a dictatorship that made Christianity obligatory, have no mention whatsoever of God in our first democratic constitution (1976).
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:02 PM   #7
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

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I'm sorry, but what? Of all places, Germany would be my last guess for such a thing to happen. I'm sorry for evoking it, but didn't the Holocaust teach German politicians better than that? Even we, after almost 50 years of a dictatorship that made Christianity obligatory, have no mention whatsoever of God in our first democratic constitution (1976).
Here the first half-sentence of the preamble:
Quote:
Im Bewusstsein seiner Verantwortung vor Gott und den Menschen,
means: "In awareness of its responsibility before God and the people,"

I whole-heartedly despise God being in our constitution. Especially for the reasons you already mentioned. But since 1949, it has not been changed. And I think it would be about time...

As for the young christian generation in the US, I sure hope none of those hypocrats will be my boss, or lead any important buisness I am involved with. Especially not politics...Ah damn, I'll get riled up about this.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:42 PM   #8
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

Unfortunately religion is a prime attribute for politics. The main focus of the news after each presidential election is basically which church the president will select to attend. It's sad that the religious drones are in so vast of a majority that atheists, who are more untainted thinkers because of a lack of religious bias, would never be able to obtain a position of power like the presidency. The second a candidate answers "what denomination are you?" with anything but some form of catholocism/christianity, their chances of winning the election plummets so fast is it leaves a crater rivaling the one that remains from the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

I always find it funny that zealot christians spout nonsense about freedom of religion to atheists, but will condemn a religion that predates their own by milennia (wicca has its origins with ancient druidism).
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Old 05-31-2011, 04:24 PM   #9
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

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I whole-heartedly despise God being in our constitution. Especially for the reasons you already mentioned. But since 1949, it has not been changed. And I think it would be about time...
I hope people that can change that hear you.

Quote:
It's sad that the religious drones are in so vast of a majority that atheists, who are more untainted thinkers because of a lack of religious bias, would never be able to obtain a position of power like the presidency. The second a candidate answers "what denomination are you?" with anything but some form of catholocism/christianity, their chances of winning the election plummets so fast is it leaves a crater rivaling the one that remains from the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
That's the thing that gets me, the cultural dissonance between us.

Right now we have a campaign going on for the position of government, and I heard nobody talk about their religious preferences, much less God. And it's not like in the US, where it's just 2 political parties that 78% of the votes are Christians, we have 18 political parties for 95,5% of Christians and not even a measly reference of faith or the Sky Daddy.

So it really puzzles me how you guys, living in such a great country that has so many examples of tolerance of minorities, still have to handle such insults to your own constitution, because the difference from what is happening in the US and what we had to struggle to get rid off is very slim and trust me, not even the Christians would want a faithful fascism.
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:54 PM   #10
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

Imaginary friends, srs business, fucking retards, etc.


But yeah, what a bunch of dicks. They knew it was wrong and it was pissing the dude, and most likely some others, off. But they did that shit anyway. Pretty spiteful. Fuck them. I'd have got up and yelled "Hey, fuck you. And fuck that sissy hippie jesus dude. Come at me, bros."

What are they going to do? Mob me? That's not very Jesus like. Yeah! I win.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:02 PM   #11
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

LOL, what exactly is so wrong with someone praying. People are getting bent out of shape over nothing. I can't see how the mentioning of GOD can be so fucking offensive to anyone. I'm an atheist, and it doesn't bother me in the least. I wonder if they had instead decided to pray to a BANANA, if people would be acting different. Let's see:

Quote:
Our heavenly Banana, we come here today with thankfulness and a grateful heart for the friendships and the memories that you have given us as the class of 2011. Even though, for many of us, this’ll be the last time that we gather together as a class, we pray that you will lead us, guide us, and watch over us through all of our endeavors throughout the rest of our lives. In Bananas’ name I pray, amen.
better?
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:08 PM   #12
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

^ You just prove how pointless and silly prayer is by belittling your god... feel good?

There is nothing wrong with prayer - but it is a private thing or for people to do when grouped together as one religion. When it comes to a diverse forum, particularly one associated with a government, prayer strikes out as "this is what we believe and you should too" which is as insulting as me going to a church, getting up to the altar and announcing "there is no god and here is why he is unnecessary".
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:36 PM   #13
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

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^ You just prove how pointless and silly prayer is by belittling your god... feel good?
It being silly and pointless, is the point. Why get mad over something silly? The whole point is that people are raging over the use of the word god, but can't find any actual flaw in the message that she gave. So if it's the word itself that's offensive, then by taking it out, the message becomes unoffensive, which just shows how much of a cry baby fag people are, by getting all mad over the use of a word. I find it a bit ironic that so called atheists are getting more overzealous at the mentioning of religion then the average christian gets defending his religion.


Quote:
There is nothing wrong with prayer - but it is a private thing or for people to do when grouped together as one religion. When it comes to a diverse forum, particularly one associated with a government, prayer strikes out as "this is what we believe and you should too" which is as insulting as me going to a church, getting up to the altar and announcing "there is no god and here is why he is unnecessary".
It wasn't the school that was responsible to this, so it's not like the kid was speaking on behalf of the government or anything. It was the act of a lone individual, who at the last minute decided "fuck to rules". Individuals should be free to act and believe as they wish. Also there are special laws that allow the use of god to be mentioned in graduation speeches like this, as long as it isn't used gratuitously. This chick mentioned god like 3 times total. She didn't break any laws.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:39 PM   #14
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

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LOL, what exactly is so wrong with someone praying. People are getting bent out of shape over nothing. I can't see how the mentioning of GOD can be so fucking offensive to anyone. I'm an atheist, and it doesn't bother me in the least. I wonder if they had instead decided to pray to a BANANA, if people would be acting different. Let's see:



better?
Figures you would pray to a banana, you fruit. = p


The point is there shouldn't be goddamn prayers in US public schools.

Edit: Actually, goddamn. Looks like this school has a goddamn Bible study course, for fuck's sake. And it should be noted that this kid has pretty massive balls to go "Hey, fuck this shit" in what seems to be a hardcore christian community. They can pray before graduation, after graduation, or to themselves during that moment of silence. There shouldn't be prayer in public schools, period. If they're going to pray then everyone should have an equal chance to stand up on stage and lead a prayer for whatever god or religion they believe in, not just christfags. For some reason, I highly doubt these cockmonglers would be fine and dandy with a kid going up and leading a, oh I dunno, satanist prayer. They didn't offer any Hindus or Islamists to come up on stage. Etc. They'd be the first to bitch up a massive whine-fest if people started doing that. And anyone who isn't a complete retard knows it. Seriously, what a bunch of douchebags to do that spiteful shit because one kid had more balls than all those pussy sheep combined.
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:06 PM   #15
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Re: Damon Fowler, Highschool Graduation Prayer and the First Ammendment

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It wasn't the school that was responsible to this, so it's not like the kid was speaking on behalf of the government or anything. It was the act of a lone individual, who at the last minute decided "fuck to rules". Individuals should be free to act and believe as they wish. Also there are special laws that allow the use of god to be mentioned in graduation speeches like this, as long as it isn't used gratuitously. This chick mentioned god like 3 times total. She didn't break any laws.
So fuck the rules but didn't break laws. Oh, you hairsplitter. I suppose it would have been OK for her to ignore the dresscode and wear nothing but a Nazi Swastika armband to the graduation too, right?

She violated his rights to be free of religion in a government run institution. A lawsuit is justified if he wants it because of his rights. Again, if he had done the opposite, there would have been hell. Yeah, I can brush it aside, because I'm cool and intelligent like that. But on principle, it is against my rights to be subjected to any religion in such a setting.

I don't see how that is hard to understand.

...

Naw, I lied. I know exactly why people find that hard to understand.
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I'm constantly changing from calm to ill
Madness fills my heart and soul as if the great divide could swallow me whole
oh, how I'm breaking down
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