GAINSVILLE TIMES – Universities not immune to religious controversy

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The issue of religion in schools doesn’t end with the 12th grade. Public universities also have to tread carefully when it comes to expressions of faith.

While a letter from the American Humanist Association has sparked a recent controversy over prayer at Chestatee High School, the University of North Georgia has been dealing with some religious expression issues of its own.

Administrators recently met with Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, to discuss the use of prayer at university Corps of Cadets meetings.

Weinstein said he sent a letter to the university after receiving a complaint from students that the corps chaplain, who is a student, gave Christian prayers at corps meetings.

In the letter, Weinstein addressed the prayers and also said the group’s chaplain corps was not inclusive of faiths other than Christianity.

Weinstein asked for a face-to-face meeting in the letter, and the university responded by inviting Weinstein to the school to talk with administrators and students.

“We actually invited (Weinstein) to come to campus in the spirit of having open dialogue about this concern, and we appreciate the information that he presented,” said Kate Maine, director of university relations at UNG. “We will take it into consideration.”

Weinstein said he is normally met with hostility over issues of religious expression because his group is, in his own words, “militant,” and he was pleasantly surprised to be invited to the school.

“We got the chance to explain who we are and what we are doing,” he said. “They weren’t offended that we were there. They were open to listen. … On a scale of one to 10 in regard to productivity and positivity, I give it a 16.”

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