Freedom of religion, it is a right that is given to us by the constitution. There for we have a choice to choose what religion we want to believe in. Or to not believe in any at all.
A few weeks ago on the 12th of May, BHS seniors who had received the presidential award were invited to an academic luncheon with the Buffalo Chamber of Combers. Students were expecting the lunch in to take place at a public building like a town hall for example, so some were surprised to see that the location was a church. The location probably wouldn’t matter much to most people, but what about the people who weren’t religious, how did they feel?
Senior Shania Sinna doesn’t define herself with any religion at all and she was one of the students who attended this lunch in.
“Having the luncheon at a church was a little weird. I thought they could of found somewhere different, but for space it was okay,” Said Sinna. “Maybe the church was the only convenient and open spot at the time.”
Even though the location of the lunch in raised some eyebrows, it was when it came time to say grace that made some people a tad uncomfortable. It makes sense that since the luncheon was taking place inside of a church that this formal gesture would be done, but students should have been notified ahead of time that a prayer was going to be said. Though it’s safe to say that most of the students didn’t mind the prayer, the students who weren’t religious felt out of place, unprepared, and fairly anxious.
“If I had to give a yes or no answer about how I felt that we had to say grace before the meal, I would say that I didn’t like it,” said Sinna. “Because we shouldn’t push that stuff on to people. It’s just like in the Pledge of Allegiance we say in school. We shouldn’t say the words ‘under God’ because there’s more than one religion.”
Social Problems and Diversity Studies teacher Todd Manninen tells us what his thoughts are about this situation.
“This is a hard situation to be in because you’re in the presence of community leaders which will reflect on you. It’s a moment in life where we’re just better off taking in the moment and going along with the situation even if it doesn’t match our own views.” Said Manninen. “But I do understand how the kids who weren’t religious feel and I do think that they should have been notified that a prayer was going to be done.”
Although there was a mix of different views and religions during, and after the luncheon, the program turned out well.
“I just like to send out the message that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.” Said Manninen.