Sandy Springs: School, church flap all hooey

We are once again under irruption from the cranky bananas — those among us who live to bruise easily so they can then loudly call attention to their supposed discomfiture.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is threatening lawsuits — one in nearby Cherokee County — because some public high schools use churches for graduation ceremonies. “We don’t think you can trade away any student’s constitutional rights just to get a cheaper or bigger space, and they simply must find a secular alternative,” said the group’s Barry Lynn.

If you think this is not a local problem, be patient. This tommyrot is coming to a school near you. That is, unless someone provides Mr. Lynn with a piping hot cup of herbal tea and a bran muffin.

Both our kids graduated from Riverwood High School, a public school right here in our little piece of heaven (you should pardon the expression) and they received their diplomas in a church building. We didn’t sing hymns, we didn’t have altar call and no one was consecrated in the blood of the Lamb.

We didn’t trade away our kids’ constitutional rights, either. We needed the space and the price was right.

Past graduations at Riverwood were held in the gym. When that could no longer hold the families and friends, the graduations moved to the stadium. If one wonders why that failed, just imagine three hours on a late-May afternoon sitting in the unforgiving heat and humidity. The wise course of action was to find a hall with enough seating at the right price — and a church sanctuary was the solution.

I get it. It’s a public school holding an event in a tabernacle. The U.S. Constitution spells out there needs to be a separation of church and state, but if this is a covert attempt to circumvent the spirit of this great nation, you’re going to have to prove it.

Do virtually anything and someone’s knickers will twist. The president got a pure-bred dog for his kids and we heard from the animal shelters. Arrest an illegal alien — pardon me, an undocumented worker — and the immigration advocates swing into action. Second-guessing and bellyaching have become as ingrained in our DNA as baseball and apple pie.

Mummers like Mr. Lynn and his merry band create a squall of nonsense that often distracts from what matters. A high school graduation is an opportunity to celebrate a rite of passage for young people and their academic achievements. If I were king we’d graduate all of our children in the grandest theatrical hall in town.

Are we trading away their constitutional rights? Hardly. Instead, we’re teaching that all should approach our Constitution with equal parts scholarship, common sense and good humor. We’re showing them that sometimes finding a solution to a problem requires a wee bit of compromise.

And perchance they have learned than a banana is a swell piece of fruit that should never be taken seriously.

Jim Osterman lives in Sandy Springs. Reach him at