A journalist who posted a picture of a group of teenagers praying in a restaurant before prom is getting some heat from Facebook users who argued the kids were not necessarily “nice” just because they were praying in the picture.
Frank Somerville, who works as a reporter for KTVU in Oakland, California, received the photo from a mother of one of the teens and decided to share the photo Tuesday with her caption on his Facebook page.
“I want to share a picture of my daughter and her friends from prom night,” the mother, whom Somerville identified as “Noelle Smith,” reportedly said. “Now with the stories today about teenagers and tide pods and condoms gathering headlines — this picture speaks for itself.”
The post went viral, getting more than 2,000 reactions and 169 shares as of Thursday evening.
But many Facebook users disagreed, sparking a debate in the post’s Facebook comments.
“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,” one user wrote.
“My guess is their opinions on gay marriage, interracial families, equal rights, and other things we hold dear might not thrill you,” another poster opined.
Others, seeing the number of negative comments on the photo, defended the post and applauded the kids for professing their faith in public.
“Awesome to see a group of young people not afraid to share their faith in public,” one Facebook user wrote.
“I’m so tired of the arrogance many religious people display and their disdain for non-believers,” another user chimed in. “If you are confident in your beliefs then you don’t feel the need to ‘save’ everyone else.”
Somerville said he was “surprised” at the number of commenters offended by the picture, adding that he did not post the picture with the intent of making an assumption about kids who pray or decide not to.
“What I took from the picture is that by saying grace on their prom night, it showed that they have qualities that I admire, qualities like respect and appreciation,” Somerville told Fox News. “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.”