Graduations at LU? No big deal

The News & Advance’s front-page article (“Graduation Controversy”) on Jan. 12 focused on concerns about the Lynchburg City Schools’ decision to hold graduation ceremonies this spring in the Vines Center at Liberty University.

This resulted from a survey last fall in which 75 percent of 600 respondents approved the move. Naturally not everyone is happy. A Jewish family commented that being on the LU campus would be “extremely uncomfortable.” This seems odd considering that Christians in general, and President Jerry Falwell Jr. in particular, are very pro-Israel, and therefore pro-Jewish. If I as a Christian reversed the position, I might say I’d be uncomfortable entering a Schewel’s Furniture store, a Jewish-owned business. But in truth I’d completely at ease.

The schools’ mandate to keep religion out of public schools (and therefore implying that a public school function shouldn’t be held in a religious location) is tragic and the unfortunate result of decades of attacks against Christian influence. You can’t keep religion out of school; think how many millions of prayers ascend to the throne of God at test time: Lord, help me pass this test! This mandate is not a law. The specious argument about separation of church and state arose from Thomas Jefferson’s writing, but in it, he was concerned about a government’s undue influence on the church, not the church’s influence on the government. It’s a matter of record that all of the Founding Fathers approved of and encouraged Christian influence in every sector of American society. To discourage or attack such influence is evil and un-American.

The comment about Falwell often making racist and anti-Semitic remarks is a vicious lie. And covering up religious items to make some attendees feel more comfortable is laughable. If you feel uncomfortable, stay home. May the cross of Christ always stay uncovered. As Jesus said in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men to me.”

Liberty University is a place where all people, regardless of their beliefs, will be treated with the utmost respect.

SAMUEL WELLMAN

Lynchburg

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor of music at Liberty University.

Setting should welcome all

My daughter and many students I care about are in the E.C. Glass High School Class of 2020. I am concerned because some seniors from both public high schools in Lynchburg have voiced that they will not be attending their graduations because the decision has been made to hold ceremonies at Liberty University’s Vines Center, a place where weekly religious convocations are held.

Graduations from secular public schools should not be held in religious spaces. Holding graduation there sends the message that Lynchburg City Schools endorses the beliefs and values of LU. This is not a space that is perceived as safe or welcoming for non-Christians, LGTBQ+ people, immigrants or others who are members of marginalized communities with beliefs that do not align with those expressed by LU.

This decision was made by using data gathered from a flawed survey that didn’t reach all stakeholders or include all venue options. No public engagement sessions to gather community input were held, despite School Board request.

I hope LCS will reverse this decision and hold graduations at the E.C. Glass civic auditorium which seats 2,104 audience members, in the new gym at Heritage that accommodates 1,200 people or at Lynchburg City Stadium (the E.C. Glass and Heritage home football field) that holds 10,000 people. These venues are appropriate, accommodate a minimum of six guests per graduate and are owned by the city which saves the $8,800 in fees associated with using the Vines Center.

JENNIFER PHELPS-STATON

Lynchburg

Keep annual inspections

Our governor needs to continue to require annual auto inspections. If they are no longer required drivers will become complacent and will procrastinate in making repairs.

Keep the inspections in place for everyone’s safety. I don’t want to be in an accident where the driver has put off making repairs.

RENE PROVENCHER

Lynchburg

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