Last month, OCCC trampled all over students’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech during the most recent graduation ceremony.
At invocation, a prayer invoking God’s presence was given to the eager graduates and audience by OCCC Regent Member Teresa Moisant.
The First Amendment refers to the separation of church and state. Since OCCC is a state institution, religion should have been separated from the commencement.
Yet, the college didn’t seem to care that her words, and those endorsed by the college, could have been very offensive to students who were forced to listen to an invocation to God.
Included in those being forced to listen were international students, atheists, people who deny any supreme being, and the agnostic — people who are skeptical of the existence of God but do not profess atheism.
Clearly God was chosen over all else during the 2010 graduation
OCCC President Paul Sechrist said the college, chose to allow the prayer because “OCCC has always included an invocation at its annual commencement exercises.”
The number of public institutions, such as OCCC, that continually disregard the First Amendment year after year are astounding. And some are landing in legal trouble because of the choice.
At least one community college, South Orange Community College District in California, has been sued in federal courts for allowing prayer at graduation ceremonies.
So, how can one graduation speaker be allowed to pray to one God when OCCC has four religious groups on campus or when so many students claim to have no faith at all? It’s simple. She shouldn’t have.
OCCC should end invocation all together and leave the expression of religion to the churches.