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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Priest "Un-invited" to Conduct Benediction - In the Name of Tolerance

The Medical University of South Carolina has a chapel named after Luke - the Apostle, the Physician and author of the forth gospel of Jesus Christ. His image is crafted into the stained glass windows, with a cross prominently at the top. When Father John Parker of Holy Ascension Orthodox Mission received the invitation to conduct the benediction over the Medical University graduation, he was delighted to oblige. He labored over just the right prayer. Then he received a letter from the university containing the guidelines for the benediction, which included the instructions:

"Steer clear of parochial, exclusively defining religious names, concepts, practices, and metaphors. A good rule of thumb to remember is that you come representing the entire faith community, not just your own group. The prayer should therefore not be offensive to anyone, whether Catholic, Baptist, Jewish, Muslim, etc. For example, when opening or closing, an inclusive choice would be "Holy God, Holy One, Creator, Sustainer," rather than "Al[l]ah, Jesus, Holy Trinity, etc"

Father Parker sent his benediction to the President of the University for review and received in return a phone call un-inviting him to the graduation.

Selective Inclusively

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