Greenwood High School is the place where students voted to have a graduation prayer, a judge said no, and then the school told speakers they would not screen their speeches beforehand.
The class president invoked the Christian god (which she had a legal right to do).
The valedictorian, Eric Workman, talked about the importance of church/state separation.
Many of you have asked for a transcript of his speech.
I spoke with Eric and got a copy of it.
Damn… This kid has body parts made of brass.
This is impressive:
Hello, everyone. Tonight is a rather auspicious occasion, marking the closing of one door and the opening of several others. The Greenwood Community High School Class of 2010 has experienced much together — our journey has encompassed seven years, four of which have established a foundation for the rest of our lives. During these four years, some of us have found our niche in English, Foreign Language, Social Studies, Business, Physical Education, The Fine Arts, Mathematics, and/or The Sciences. For me, I found my place in the latter. Science never stops asking “why” until it has uncovered “how” and never stops asking “how” until it has determined “why.” Science uses both logic and reason to assess the world around us — to explain and improve our relative universe. Science is a product manifested from secular humanism; it is devoid of delusion, ideological zealotry, and blind ignorance. Science is, in essence, the purest form of intellect. In addition to finding a passion for science, though, I also learned that taking a stand for principles far surpasses the respect, the acceptance, or the repudiation of anyone.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” I have never fallen short of President Jefferson’s credo in this respect, as I am sure you are aware. You may not agree with my decision to fight for civil liberties, but I expect you to respectfully listen while I elucidate. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This implies that no entity, agent, or facet (however subsidiary) of the government is to ever endorse, promote, or encourage any form of religion or religious doctrine. This, as you may or may not know, includes school-sponsored prayer.
In September of last year, our remarkably doltish administration called upon us all to vote in deciding whether or not we wanted the Constitution of the United States to be flagrantly violated. Understanding the law and knowing right from wrong, I vehemently opposed such an atrocious act from ever taking place. However, my one voice and the voices of others were shouted-down by most of you. Our rights and the law were disregarded. You see, subjecting government-endorsed prayer to a majority rule is, in and of itself, unconstitutional, let alone the government approbation of said prayer. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having said, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in [most] cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate [them] would be oppression.”
Individual freedoms were subjugated, the United States Constitution was omitted, and most of you were unfazed. I, however, was fazed — I, however, took action to redress this grievance. On March 11th, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on my behalf to legally halt any and all school-sanctioned prayer at tonight’s commencement ceremony. On April 30th, Federal District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an injunction to do just that. In her ruling, Judge Barker stated that “the degree of school involvement ma[de] it clear that [any graduation] prayer [would] ‘bear the mark of the state,’ and accordingly [transgress] the Constitution.” I solemnly hope that you all do understand that the Greenwood Community School Corporation had its hand in this from the beginning, that the Greenwood Community School Corporation thought (and still likely thinks) it was and is above the law, and that neither the Greenwood Community School Corporation nor any other government entity is above the law. In challenging my lawsuit, the Greenwood Community School Corporation accrued a debt of legal fees and court costs to the ACLU, totaling approximately $18,000. For the School Corporation’s legal representation, you can expect the debt to be exorbitantly greater.
It is rather unfortunate that Joe Farley and his Milquetoast myrmidons chose to allocate funds to battle, in futility, a precedent that has held firmly in law since its issuance from the United States Supreme Court. These tens of thousands of dollars could have been better used to maintain the teaching positions being cut in the coming academic year due to a lack and administrative mismanagement of funds. Nonetheless, $18,000 will be spent appropriately, helping the ACLU to further its mission to protect and defend freedom.
Now, before I leave you with your thoughts, I would like to thank and acknowledge those who have, above all, influenced and inspired me for the better. Firstly and foremost, I thank my mother, Kathy, for believing in me and my abilities. Her love, care, and guidance have been immeasurable assets in my journey through life thus far. Secondly, I thank my sister, Tiffany, for being my rock in times of hardship. She will never know how grateful I am to have her in my life. Thirdly, I thank my grandparents, Richard and Betty, for providing me with the love and encouragement that enriches me, my life, and my future. Their hearts have touched mine more than they know. Fourthly, I thank Becky Kehler for shaping me into the scientist I am today — an individual who does not stop asking “why” until he has uncovered “how” and who does not stop asking “how” until he has determined “why.” It was she who gave me both the unparalleled opportunity and vast resources necessary to thrive and prosper as a research scientist in High School. Fifthly and finally, I thank Suzanne Schulz for teaching me to never compromise myself or my principles for anyone or anything. Her candor and unyielding disposition have been hallmarks in shaping me and my outlook on the world.
Thank you for permitting me the chance to speak with you tonight. It has been a pleasure for me and, hopefully, a teaching moment for you. Before we part, though, I leave you with these words:
“One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double your danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!” — Sir Winston Churchill
Congratulations, Class of 2010; the best is about to begin!
You can watch video clips of the speech here — and the disrespect shown from the audience as he speaks.
You know, I gave a speech at my high school graduation.
It was nowhere as gutsy and memorable as this one.
I can’t wait to see what Eric does in his future.