Religious beliefs should not be forced on students

In Retrospect, Thursday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation was awesome. Judge Hatchett’s speech was on point and right on the money – especially considering all the problems FAMU is facing right now. In fact, since I’ve been here, I admit it was one of the best, if not the best convocation I had attended. However, there is this little thing that always bothers me about convocation: the prayer.

I am a Christian. After much thought, research and comparison to other religions, I’ve chosen Christianity as my faith. But, not everyone at convocation is a Christian and we should not force our beliefs on anyone there. I get offended when someone is praying on stage, so I don’t pray along with him or her thus I know everyone else in the gymnasium doesn’t either. They shouldn’t be forced to or be subjected to the praying.

Sure the Bible says to show men the way and teach others about God, but it doesn’t say to force our religious beliefs on others. However, this is consistently done at convocation.

The number of people at convocation is usually mentioned and generally, the administration is not pleased with it. I have an answer for the attendance problem: stop praying. Have a moment of silence instead.

I’ve spoke to some students about why they don’t attend convocation and some have said they don’t go because of the praying and the church-like atmosphere. And, believe it or not, many of the students I spoke to are Christians. Just think about how people and students who aren’t Christians feel.

I’ve had a professor who is Jewish, one is agnostic and another that follows an African faith. Guess what: rarely, if at all, do any of them attend convocation. As to why they don’t attend is because they don’t appreciate the church-like atmosphere another was because they just didn’t want to go, but that’s another topic.

I don’t recall reading in The Fang, the student handbook, or during my research on deciding to come here that being a Christian was a stipulation. Naturally, because I am a Christian, some Christian activities that occur at convocation do not bother me. But that’s just it – I’m a Christian. Not everybody at the University is.

Imagine instead of praying to God at convocation, whomever is in charge of convocation decided we should pray to Buddha. Many would be upset, while few are pleased.

I realize that you can’t please everybody, but if we must have a moment, let it be a moment of silence. Within that time, those who have a belief in something will pray or acknowledge it and they could feel comfortable doing so.

Because of the tone of the column and the words I choose to use, many may believe I’m turning against my faith, but I’m not. In essence, I’m embracing it.

Christianity teaches of bringing people to Christ, not running them away from Him. And if convocation administrators continue to pray instead of respecting others, then non-Christians will continue to run away. That is going against the teachings many at this University swear they live by. This leaves me to wonder: who is the hypocrite or the false prophet? A question I’ll leave up to those in hiding to answer.

If this University really wants to thrive and be the best in the nation, it should start embracing other faith followers and teach them about Christianity. Stop running people away, but that’s another topic for another day.

Robyn K. Mizelle is a senior broadcast journalism and psychology student from Lake City. She is the Visuals Editor for The Famuan. Contact her at