Look, this ain't proselytizing, but it's obnoxious. It's obnoxious to the many people who don't share McComb's beliefs, and honestly it should be obnoxious to those who do believe as she does, because it's the wrong place and the wrong time to be talking about such a personal issue.Apparently a lot of people disagree with that last assertion. (Though oddly, I'm guessing most of those people would be highly upset if McComb had wanted to use her platform to rail against President Bush.)
McComb was speaking to her fellow students, their families and their friends, all of whom have their own personal views on religion and their own relationship, or lack thereof, with God, and I'm sure the last thing many of them wanted to hear was an extended soliloquy on how Christ died to save their souls. This is no different from someone giving a high school commencement address and talking about her belief that the war in Iraq is illegal, or Bush = Hitler, or John Murtha is a coward, etc. Yes, it's all protected speech (as McComb's should be), but it doesn't belong in a commencement address.
While ordinarily I might say that my own personal religious beliefs are nobody's business, in this case I feel as though I should lay them out so readers can factor them in, particularly if they find my lack of faith disturbing. Basically, I'm cheerfully agnostic, but unlike many "unbelievers," I have a deep and abiding respect for strong religious beliefs - it just happens that I was born without the faith gene. I can tell you that because I find religion such an interesting subject, I know more about it than most laypeople (including religious ones), but I'm well aware that this is wholly (holy?) different than believing it. I will never understand people who think the Bible is the literal word of God, but that's okay: they don't need me to understand them, and I'm fine with them not understanding me. The only time I have a problem with religiosity is when people want to use their faith-based beliefs to push for public policy, e.g., the idiocy of a constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage. (I'm not saying that all people opposed to gay marriage fall in this camp, I'm just talking about the ones who do. And feel free to substitute another issue if you'd like: I'm not wedded* to this one.)
Don't get me wrong: If you want to say that something is immoral because God (or Jesus, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Odin) says so, I completely respect that, even if I'm not with you. Likewise, if you want to argue that the State has a vested social interest in keeping marriage between men and women, I may disagree with you, but we can have a rational discussion about it. But if you want to proclaim that something must be illegal simply because in your opinion God says it's wrong, you should tell me that up front so I know I don't have to pay attention to the rest of what comes out of your mouth. Also I would prefer you find another country in which to force your beliefs down other people's throats, but that's just me.
But back to young Brittany.
I have nothing but respect for the fact that God is the biggest part of her life, and for her wanting to thank her Lord and Savior at her commencement. To paraphrase what I said in my original post, if you want to give a shout out to God, or Jesus, etc., nobody should stop you.
But that's not what Brittany wanted to do, at least not originally. The speech she turned into school officials for approval contained two Lords, nine Gods and one Christ. (Not in the polytheistic sense.) Echoing the trailer for the new version of Superman (or do I have that backwards?), it also referenced God giving his only son "to suffer an excruciated death in order to cover everyone's shortcomings and forge a path to heaven."
Now, I'm sorry, but given the setting, that is completely and utterly inappropriate, and Ms. McComb should not be lauded for wanting to include any of it. Know your audience: people who come to a non-sectarian high school commencement aren't there to hear the Sermon on the Mount, whatever their personal beliefs might be. Injecting your religion at length or in great detail at a secular function is, quite frankly, tasteless and rude, regardless of what those beliefs are. (It would be equally tasteless and rude to ruminate about your disbelief in God in such a setting.) It's the wrong topic at the wrong place at the wrong time.
And here's another thing: Is it just me, or does anyone else get the sense that people who constantly feel the need to talk about how great their faith is often are engaging in unseemly self-congratulation rather than humble devotion? To me, this is the equivalent of the guy who's always talking about how much chicks dig him to cover for the fact that he's got a small
As an added bonus, my next post will be the Cranky Insomniac's top ten ways to tell if it's the right time to go on at length about your faith. Some will apply to all faiths, others will be more faith-specific. Stay tuned.
*Unless otherwise stated, all puns are intended, and will not be apologized for.