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Two Jordan-Matthews students make anti-prayer pleas

Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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Pittsboro, NC - At the June 3, Chatham County school board meeting chairman David Hamm asked if anyone wished to make public comments at the meeting. Two Jordan-Matthews high school students, Michael Thorpe and Luis Lucas-Tzun, make public statements against saying a prayer at high school graduations.

Mr. Michael Thorpe made the following public comments regarding prayer at high school graduations:

“Members of the board and guests. My name is Michael Thorpe. I am a senior at Jordan-Matthews High School. As you may be aware, high school graduation ceremonies include a student-led prayer.

It is my view along with other students at my high school, that this prayer is a violation of the law and infringes the rights of students whose right to freedom of expression is being marginalized in a school system that values tolerance and diversity. It is unfair to promote just one group's traditions and values over and above the entire student body by imploring us to be in accordance with an ideal that we do not believe in and making graduation a non secular event. We, as concerned students, seek the definite end of prayer at graduation ceremonies and would very much value your support in making graduation a non secular event, just like every other school assembly held throughout the year.”

Mr. Luis Lucas-Tzun made the following public comments regarding prayer at high school graduations:

“Hello everyone. My name is Luis Lucas-Tzun and I am also a senior at Jordan-Matthews High School. I am in agreement with Michael, and it is my view that the graduation prayer is an overt violation of the separation between church and state. What we have here is a federally funded public institution that has chosen to promote the religion of Christianity over all others by choosing to cite Christian scripture and pray to the Christian God of Abraham during the graduation ceremony.

If the school were to truly uphold its position of diversity and tolerance, it would have to offer a prayer to ALL denominations of all religions and their respective deities. Since this is clearly an irrational and impossible thing to accomplish, the only logical option is to cancel any and all future graduation prayers for all Chatham County School graduations. This is the only way to truly protect all our students' and parent's constitutional rights. There is no reason to include prayer for graduation. We gather at graduation to commemorate our students' four years of hard work and commitment to continuing their education, not to promote one religion over another.

So I urge the board members to put a permanent stop to all prayers during graduation ceremonies. Thank you very much for your time and have a pleasant evening.”

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