Secular coming-of-age ceremony for the 21st century

This article appeared recently in The Atlantic:

And while it's shallow and rather cursory, stoking my suspicion that the Atlantic hires a bunch of smart people and then gives them no leads, topics, guidelines or deadlines, there's an interesting discussion to be had, which begins to emerge in the comment threads.  I figure this is a generally more well-disposed crowd to have such a discussion.  

The major question I have is this; how could one possibly protect against the inevitable religious hijacking of such a ceremony?  It's only too easy to imagine some local ceremony committee requiring their graduates to 'respect the right of all American citizens, even the unborn' as part of receiving the confirmation.  How, when the religious have their heads so deeply in their own arses, such that they believe themselves a persecuted minority, could one ever hope to make a truly civic, secular institution like this take root?  A purely secular, civics-based ceremony of the sort performed in Scandinavia would unquestionably be decried as uhnoly/godless/atheistic/ sacriligious brainwashing by the usual suspects.  

I suppose, after all of that, the question is really how we as rational people can even hope to have productive dialogue of any sort with people so convinced of ridiculous things... your thoughts are much appreciated. 

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