Local Mother Protests Ceremony for Seniors
A Pinecrest High School parent is considering action after her daughters came home with a flier for a religious celebration for graduating seniors.
Amy Lorber, who is Jewish, said the flier was distributed at Pinecrest High School to her two daughters at a mandatory meeting for high school seniors during school hours.
The flier invites students to a "special service" at 7 p.m. Thursday. It says students will be called on stage and will receive "a special gift of items every senior needs (computer thumb drive, Pizza Hut discount cards, etc.), a Bible, and the thanks and praise from those attending for a job well done."
The service will feature a worship band, speakers, including an inspirational evangelist, and performances by a choir and an interpretive dance group, according to the flier.
Lorber believes that passing out the flier during school hours is a violation of separation of church and state.
"It's not inclusive," Lorber said of the ceremony.
Lorber said she wants people to be aware that their actions -- whether intentional or not -- can be hurtful.
"This is a very gray area," she said. "It's a gray area when you invite people outside your congregation, and they are not a part of your belief systems."
According to school officials, a group of local churches rented the auditorium. The event is not sponsored by the school system.
Deborah Richardson, of First Baptist Church in Aberdeen, who is listed as the contact person on the flier, said this is the second year the service has been held. She said it is to replace a baccalaureate ceremony.
"We felt like the seniors needed some spiritual send-off, so that's why we did it," Richardson said.
About eight to 10 local Christian churches will contribute to the program, according to Richardson. She said the event is not intended to exclude anybody.
However, non-Christian houses of worship were not contacted or invited to participate in the event.
Lorber, whose husband works for the school system, said when she saw the flier, she e-mailed Superintendent Susan Purser to express her concern.
The first e-mail she sent to Purser reads, "I feel that this 'special service' has gone way too far. This event must be altered to include all faiths, including, but not limited to Jews, Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses. This 'service' excludes these groups by not offering The Old Testament, the Koran, etc. Even if this event is not 'sponsored' by the school system, and children are not required to attend, the school system has taken a position by allowing this on school property."
Lorber said she was considering all her options, including protesting the event. She said she would definitely contact the American Civil Liberties Union.
"All I really want to accomplish is that people should know," Lorber said. "People should know there are different religions out there and they hurt people who are not included."
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2473 or by e-mail at tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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