A debate is raging in the comments of a Facebook post that shows several teenagers saying grace at a local Longhorn Steakhouse before their prom.
Frank Somerville, a journalist at KTVU in Oakland, Calif., had been sent the photo by one of the teens’ mothers, according to his Facebook post. He shared the photo with his followers Tuesday, along with a note from the young woman’s mother.
“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.”
The woman also added that she was “so impressed” with the group. “They all said Grace before eating and were all well behaved.”
“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 one commenter who took issue with the pic.
“I see well behaved people doing terrible things, misbehaved people who just take care of someone in need. Being a [C]hristian doesn’t mean they are well behaved,” argued another.
“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.
Many other commenters defended the photo and the children, with one writing that “not once did [Somerville] say that these kids are any better than non-Christian kids.” Still, some felt that praising the teens for praying — which Somerville called “REALLY nice to see” — was unfair to people who don’t share the Christian faith.
“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.”
Somerville tells Fox News he's "surprised by how many people took offense," and added that he never meant to imply anything about kids who choose to pray or choose not to.
"What I took from the picture that that by saying grace on their prom night, it showed that they have qualities that I admire, qualities like respect and appreciation," said Somerville. "But to be clear … you certainly don't have to say grace to have those qualities. I should also say that i enjoy and encourage people to have honest discussions on my posts. I think that's how we learn, by hearing different points of view."
Somerville said the mother who sent him the photo reached out afterward, and said she was not going to read the negative comments. She also said she did not take the picture of the teens herself, but only shared it because she knows they are "great kids."
A woman claiming to be the grandmother of one of the girls also chimed in on Facebook to vouch for each child and their behavior. She further added that her own daughter raised her granddaughter as a single parent.
“My granddaughter is a senior in high school, has worked after school for 2 years, is an honor roll student, had taken AP classes for 2 years, plays softball and soccer and after graduation will be going into the [Air Force],” she wrote.
“These kids were raised to respect their elders and to be the best that they could be.”