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University of Maryland Senate Eliminates Invocation From Commencement

The senate at the University of Maryland, College Park has voted to eliminate the invocation from the school’s commencement ceremony, The Washington Post reported.

The recommendation, which requires approval from the university’s president to take effect, was intended to be more sensitive to the concerns of believers and non-believers, Senate Chair Kenneth Holum, told The Post.

The senate, which is composed of more than 100 members and includes faculty, students and staff, voted 32 to 14 to abolish the prayer, The Diamondback, University Maryland’s daily newspaper, reported.

“Prayer, even when it’s generic and utterly nondenominational, feels Christian to non-Christians in this country,” Dr. Marsha Rosenblit, professor of Jewish history, told The Diamondback. “Getting rid of it entirely puts religion where it belongs: in the hearts and minds of religious people — not in a public ceremony at a public university.” University President C.D. Mote Jr. has yet to approve the measure.

When the senate considered the issue last year, Mote told the university community that “it can be cloudy about what is denominational and what is not,” but that there were “ways to convey the spirit of the moment without crossing the line.”

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