captive audiences

Michael deHaven Newsom mnewsom at LAW.HOWARD.EDU
Thu Feb 17 10:35:22 PST 2000

Brownstein's suggestion has a great deal of intuitive merit.  I wonder, however,
whether Jaffree's formalism gets in the way.  One "improper" motive doomed the
whole enterprise.

Michael deHaven Newsom
Howard University
School of Law

"A.E. Brownstein" wrote:

>   I appreciate the softness of Mark's comments about a compromise on
> graduation prayer and his support for civility and for expression that
> recognizes the diversity of the audience and the community. (And I agree
> with his comment about personal expressions of thankfulness.)
> My suggested compromise is a bit different regarding prayer. My daughter
> and I value prayer highly. I believe that if there is going to be an
> opportunity to solemnize her graduation ceremony two years from now with
> prayer, the event should be structured in a way that allows everyone at the
> graduation who values prayer. like my daughter and I,  to comfortably and
> equally share in that opportunity. I also think that non-religious parents
> and students should have a comparable opportunity to express their feelings
> about this milestone in the students' lives.
> I would endorse a school official or other dignitary saying something like
> this:
> "This graduation is a very special event for the graduates and their
> families and friends. Now might be an appropriate time for all of us to
> think quietly for a moment about our children and their achievements and
> their future. We come from many different backgrounds in our community and
> hold many different beliefs. But we can all share what makes this event so
> important and meaningful in our own way. For some of us, the best way to
> solemnize this event may be to offer a silent or softly spoken prayer. For
> others, the joy and hopes and pride we feel is expressed in other ways. So
> let us take a minute to quietly recognize the importance of this ceremony
> today in a way that is most consistent with our own beliefs and traditions."
> If Mark and I are attending the same graduation, we would probably not be
> expressing the same prayer. And someone sitting (or standing) between us
> might not say a prayer at all. But we and our children would each have been
> given an opportunity to solemnize the graduation event with prayer or
> another form of expression and we would each have been treated with equal
> respect with regard to our different religious and non-religious traditions
> without regard to the number of families in the community who adhere to one
> faith or another or none at all.
>                                                                 Alan Brownstein
>                                                                 Uc Davis

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