A photo capturing a group of teens in the middle of prayer just before attending their prom has Facebook users in an uproar, Fox News reported.
The photo was posted on Facebook on April 24 by Frank Somerville, a journalist at KTVU in Oakland, California, after the mother of one of the teens sent it to him. Along with the photo, Somerville shared the note from the mother that accompanied the picture.
“I want to share a picture of my daughter and her friends from prom night,” a woman Somerville identified as “Noelle Smith” was quoted as saying. “Now with the stories today about teenagers and tide pods and condoms gathering headlines — this picture speaks for itself.”
Smith went on to say that she was proud of the group of teens for remembering to say Grace before their meal and for their behavior at the restaurant.
In his Facebook post, Somerville concurred with Smith’s assessment, adding, “And coupled with the post I did yesterday about the kids playing basketball who kneeled when a funeral procession went by, it says a lot about young people these days.”
It’s evident that Somerville intended to make the point that not all young people today are as disrespectful or immature as one would believe based on some of the absurd behaviors and trends highlighted in recent news stories. His post seems to honor the young people for their shows of appreciation, humility, and respect, without once placing any particular emphasis on a specific faith or religion.
In fact, a quick perusal of Somerville’s Facebook page shows that his posts often focus on a variety of feel-good stories, particularly those that involve children and young people.
Unfortunately, that did not stop a number of Facebook users from taking offense to his post. Over the next week, users would berate Somerville, the teens captured in the photo, and the post as a whole.
“So if I don’t say grace but open doors for people, use crosswalks, obey all laws, etc, I’m not a good person GET REAL,” responded one user.
“Saying grace over your food says nothing of your moral compass, integrity or character … Behaving well at a restaurant while in your late teens, and being considerate to people, should not be Facebook praise worthy,” said another commentator who took issue with the pic.
“My guess is their opinions on gay marriage, interracial families, equal rights, and other things we hold dear might not thrill you,” wrote another poster.
“So now we are supposed to praise kids for praying to an invisible man in the sky for animals that were slaughtered so they could eat?” one commenter wrote. “Maybe they should be thanking that animal for giving up it's [sic] life so they could eat instead. So tired of Christians pushing their beliefs onto everyone else.”
"I'm so tired of the arrogance many religious people display and their disdain for non-believers,” wrote another. “If you are confidant [sic] in your beliefs then you don't feel the need to ‘save’ everyone else.”
More than once, Somerville attempted to defend his post to the angry mob that swooped down on it.
“I look at this not as religious … but being thankful and respectful for what they have and this is coming from someone who grew up in Berkeley with no religion,” read one of his responses.
Other times, he had to address users directly to assure them that they too are good people despite not being religious.
Finally, Somerville posted, “I'm honestly surprised by some of these comments.. i wasn't trying to imply that you have to be a christian to be a good person.. what i see from these kids is that they are respectful... that they are humbled... and that they are appreciative for what they have. ... i could care less whether they are religious.... but by saying grace it shows me that they have those qualities.. and those are the qualities... regardless of whether you believe in god ... that i admire..”
Fortunately, many others came to Somerville’s defense, including users who are not religious.
“Wow, people, chill! I am not religious, very emphatically not Christian, but even I can see that these kids saying a prayer before their meal is a step up from some of the behavior I've seen from other groups of prom-goers,” one user argued. “No one said other, non-Christian prom-goers are all ill-behaved. And no one was judging anyone for not being a Christian. You're picking a fight and causing division all by yourselves. Don't be that person.”
Others assured Somerville that they understood the intent of his post and that he should not feel the need to defend it.
“Trolls will troll,” another user told Somerville. “Ignore them n they’ll disappear.”
Sadly, the entire incident further underscores the anti-Christian, anti-God climate that is beginning to permeate the culture.
Image: screenshot from Facebook post of students praying