So a federal judge ruled yesterday that two Connecticut public schools can’t hold their graduation ceremonies in a church because it would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. I get that. Although the judge’s claim that the district was “coercing” students to support religion is a bit loony: “I hereby grant you this diploma AND baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
I’m not going to go all postal and rant about the moral decline of America. That’s not really my style. But I would like to remind the judge that churches aren’t the only places with religious symbols. Heck, you could argue that even the most benign high school auditorium is teeming with them. Here are a few examples:
The Clock. You know, the large industrial-sized time keeping mechanism announcing the time left in the all-school assembly that just..will…not…end. The one that seems to tick backwards every time you stare at it in hopeful anticipation of freedom. Yes, the clock is an overt reminder that God is the master of all time and space. “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past” (Psalm 90:4)
The Chairs. Sure they’re uncomfortable and have wads and wads of gum underneath them but they are clearly symbols of heaven. Scripture tells us that Jesus sits at the right hand of God. Yes, in a chair. Thus it’s impossible to look upon even a metal folding chair without reflecting upon the glory of God.
The Curtain on the Stage. Every auditorium, like many church parish halls (for some reason), have stages. This is not just reminiscent of the recent mediocre production of High School Musical. It is obviously symbolic of the Temple curtain that was rent in two as Jesus breathed his last upon the cross.
Pencils. Presumably you’ll find a broken No. 2 pencil on the floor left over from a frustrated student. This is a not-so-veiled reference to the Book of Daniel and the omen of the handwriting on the wall. In this case the omen may well pertain to the coming parental debt of trying to pay for college.
Diplomas. There’s a reason school administrators roll these things up to hand out: they’re scrolls. Any diploma is basically the Torah in miniature.
Funny Hats and Dresses. Graduations are known for the ubiquitous cap and gown. Clergy are known for variations on the same theme.
Processions. Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” is the academic equivalent of a processional hymn. Please, no flash photography.
People. Can’t have a graduation without ‘em and you can’t hide the children of God. The world is crawling with them.
So there you go — your guide to surviving a secular graduation ceremony. Just make sure there’s no minister floating around to give a benediction.