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By Tristan 

Evangelical letters sound a lot alike

 

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I was upset by the distortions and suggestions made in the three Evangelical letters responding to the objections to the sectarian prayer at this year's Montana State University- Northern graduation.

First, why three letters by three writers who apparently colluded since they simply repeated each other's ideas and arguments. This effort to appear to be speaking for the whole community does not justify breaking the rules which prescribe non-sectarian prayers at graduation ceremonies.

Second, why the false comparison suggestion that it's either the sectarian Evangelical prayer at commencement or no prayer at all? No one has argued for no prayer at all.

Prayers have been a part of college commencement for the 40 years I taught at Northern and well before and after my sojourn on the campus with no complaints. The expressed objections were to narrow sectarian prayers, such as this year's prayer, that exclude not only non-believers and non-Christians but many Christians as well, including myself.

Third, I am especially upset by the suggestion that faculty members who object to sectarian prayers should just not attend graduation. This misses the point that there are members of the graduating class as well as members of the community at large who are also not Evangelicals and who would also be excluded from their own graduation exercises.

After all, Northern is a public institution supported by taxpayers, which includes Jews, gentiles, LDS, Muslims, Christians, non-believers and traditional Native American religions.

If it were an Evangelical institution supported by Evangelical dollars, then that group could dictate whatever prayer they might wish.

But MSU-N is supported by all taxpayers.

Moreover, Northern attracts an international student body, including Hindus, Buddhists and Moslems who pay non-resident fees in lieu of taxes. Why should they be excluded from their own graduation?

Separation of church and state.

Thomas Jefferson was right 210 years ago. We should quit quibbling over the constitutionality of that principle and admit its absolute profundity.

Bill Thackeray Havre

 

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