‘Krishna, Krishna’ at graduation Skip to content

‘Krishna, Krishna’ at graduation

Christian Nationalists have fought to have prayers at all sorts of school events. Do they have to be Christian prayers?

2 min read
Ron Kaufman is in the top row, all the way to the right. (photo provided by Ivonne Rovira)

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Krishna, Krishna, Rama, Rama

Every school has a Ron Kaufman. A nonconformist slacker kid who doesn’t care if the school’s admin likes him or not. He’s in the school band or maybe in chorus or maybe one of the lesser sports. Or maybe he’s not in any after-school program at all. A very mellow dude. And for $50 or $100, he’d be happy to promote the First Amendment protection against the establishment of religion. Through prayer. A Hindu prayer.

The best way to fight Christian Nationalists is to embrace their own laws and court rulings. Students have the right to pray publicly in school. Great! Introduce Muslim prayers five times a day. (In practicality, only three of the prayers will probably occur during school hours, but that will be enough.) We’re all about worshipping God, right? It’s like the Ten Commandments. The kids who don’t want to get on a prayer rug and whisper “Allah ’akbar” can just ignore it. Just ask the governor of Louisiana! (Muslim students will whisper as they don’t want to disturb the other kids, unlike prayers over the loudspeaker, which is one of the goals of the Christian Right.)

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that a coach can pray at football games with his players. The coach, Joseph Kennedy of Bremerton, Washington, told The New York Times, “I will continue to work to help people understand and embrace the historic ruling at the heart of our case.” Great! We really should help Coach Kennedy with this. Shouldn’t Wiccans be able to meet as a coven to pray that the Horned God and the Mother Goddess bless the Podunk Panthers in their rivalry against the Centerburg Centaurs? Preferably at Homecoming? Surely, even Coach Kennedy himself would give his blessing to this embrace of the ruling at the heart of his case.

But the crème de la crème here would be graduation. That’s where Ron comes in. Slip him enough cash, and he’ll insist on his right to make a Hindu prayer. Hey, they’re letting the president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes recite a prayer, right? Maybe they got a local rabbi to try to pretend that the whole enterprise isn’t the establishment of any particular religion. Again, great! Ron can recite the Hare Krishna chant, so that Krishna can bless the graduating class. What a beautiful gesture! If the student is a bit of a singer, s/he can make it an even bigger production. I can guarantee they’ll cut the school prayers for the following year if they’re forced to live up to what they claim they want.

And, Ron Kaufman, wherever you are, I still look up to you five decades later.


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Ivonne Rovira

Ivonne is the research director for Save Our Schools Kentucky. She previously worked for The Miami Herald, the Miami News, and The Associated Press. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)