Graduation Prayers in the Crosshairs

A civil rights group filed a complaint against two Michigan colleges after commencement speakers prayed during their commencement speeches.

Muskegon Community College Trustee Ann Oakes included a religious invocation in her speech to the school’s graduates in May. Late last month, the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists (MACRA) filed a complaint against the school, disputing the constitutionality of her behavior, according to MLive.

In the commencement invocation, Oakes said, “Let us pray. Gracious Lord, we thank you, that you are with us. We thank you for your loving kindness, family, friends.  We ask, O God, for the wisdom of Solomon. We ask, O God, for the inner strength of Sampson. But above all, we ask for a heart of love like You. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.”

The same civil rights group went after another Michigan college as well.

MACRA filed a FOIA request to Jackson College for communications regarding its commencement ceremony.  Jackson College also included a religious invocation during its commencement ceremony.

After the singing of the national anthem, Geraldine Jacobs, an English professor at the college, asked the audience to bow their heads and proceeded to give a prayer.

The civil rights group cited the same Supreme Court rulings in the Jackson College case as it did in the MCC case.

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Brian Sussman

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