Valedictorian Rips Up School-Approved Graduation Speech… and Says the Lord’s Prayer Instead

Take South Carolina, a school named Liberty, and a Christian valedictorian… and mix them all together.

What do you think’s gonna happen at graduation?

Prayer, of course.

And not just a brief thanks to God, but a full-out Lord’s Prayer:

The backstory to this is well worth exploring. Back in February, the Freedom From Religion Foundation told the School District of Pickens County that it had to stop the student-led religious invocations at school board meetings.

The locals weren’t happy, so they gathered around the flagpole… because they had nothing better to do:

(via The Easley Progress)

The board eventually voted to keep a non-Sectarian prayer… which didn’t really fix much of anything.

This is the district that’s home to Liberty High School. A place where Jews and atheists and Muslims are not welcome because of a Christian majority that can’t stop “loving” everyone else.

For graduation, Liberty replaced an illegal prayer with a moment of silence. And it also had student speakers submit their speeches to the administration for approval.

When Roy Costner got up on stage, he took out his approved speech and just ripped it up. According to Costner’s own website (in which he appears to writes about himself in the third person):

LHS Class of 2013 Valedictorian Roy Costner added The Lord’s prayer into his speech after ripping up his old speech on stage saying, “Mrs. Gwinn had somehow approved his speech (the one ripped), so I will have to use a different one!” When he arrived to The Lord’s prayer into his speech, this received a huge cheer/excitement and emotion from the crowd.

It was such an amazing moment! Looking out and seeing all of the family, friends, and mentors in the coliseum clapping and some even standing.

“We serve an amazing God and I can promise everyone there was absolutely nothing special I did! God chose to show out and without his courage I don’t think I could have made it through His prayer from the overwhelming reaction the crowd gave bringing tears to my eyes.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say the non-Christian kids in the crowd had a much tougher time at graduation than the Christian on stage who thinks he did something heroic or rebellious.

As one commenter on a news website said, “The straight, white, able-bodied Christian man said a prayer out loud in South Carolina! SO BRAVE.”

The district said Costner won’t be punished for the prayer. That’s where the problem really lies. The school’s not really in the wrong here since it appears they couldn’t have stopped him… but is this legal? Is this the loophole Christians have been searching for?

The First Amendment Center says the case law on this matter is murky at best:

… there is a risk for school officials in this approach. By creating a limited open forum for student speech, the school may have to accept almost anything the student wishes to say. Although the school would not be required to allow speech that was profane, sexually explicit, defamatory, or disruptive, the speech could include political or religious views offensive to many, as well as speech critical of school officials.

That’s the real question here. If Costner had denounced President Obama, or spent time talking about the necessity of abortion, or starting swearing up a storm, would anyone have stepped in to stop him?

Would he have been punished if he talked about why God doesn’t exist?

It seems like his pro-religious speech got special treatment. And if the school wants to avoid a lawsuit in the future, the only solution for them may be to ban all student speakers at future graduations.

(Thanks to Sarah for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Art_Vandelay

    “Bravery”…You keep saying that word…I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Apropos of nothing, we always called that the “Our Father” at the old RCC. Never heard it referred to as the Lord’s Prayer.

    • Carpinions

      As a former RCC member, I recall both names being used for the Our Father on a regular basis.

    • sk3ptik0n

      I always heard it referred to as the Pater Noster. That was in the Catholic schools in Rome, Italy. Some called it the “Padre nostro” which is the straight italian translation.
      As far as I can remember, no Italia catholic I can remember every called it The Lord’s Prayer or any translation thereof.
      It may be the influence of the protestants on the way prayers are named.

    • Librepensadora

      When I was Catholic, the “Our Father” ended, “but deliver us from evil. AMEN.”

  • Carpinions

    So even valedictorians in South Carolina don’t understand separation of church and state? Interesting…

    • C Peterson

      “Best in your class” in this school is clearly very different from “good”.

    • Phillip Hammond

      No, but they understand freedom of speech.

      • Whirlwitch

        In that case, ask an SC valedictorian to explain to you why “freedom of speech” does not mean a school has to give a speaker carte blanche to say anything they wish. Because I sense you are unclear on that concept.

      • phantomreader42

        “Freedom of speech” does not mean “freedom to hijack a public function to force a captive audience to listen to your speech.” Whoever told you it did is a liar and a traitor, and you are an idiot for believing them.

      • Bill Santagata

        This is not a freedom of speech issue. He is in a school-sponsored forum and thus the government speech doctrine, not free speech forum analysis, is controlling. See Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier.

      • Matt D

        If you want to call telling others your religion is better/truer than everyone elses “freedom of speech”…..well, that’s great, really, please keep it up.
        Atheists can win battles a lot easier if a majority demonstrates favoring freedom of speech while ignoring freedom of religion. Not respecting one right but harping on another is astounding ignorance, and more examples of that is useful.

  • C Peterson

    The kid is a waste of oxygen. I don’t know if the average IQ of South Carolina has reached single digits yet, but certainly this school and its town are there.

    • Mackinz

      Hey now… we know what happens to people when their IQ gets below 70, and it would likely render them completely unable to come close to what this asshat did.

      However, that is not to say that a 75 is good.

    • allen

      Yes, a waste of oxygen. We peace loving atheists must abort him now like we advocate be done to millions of babies each year. One day you will wake up. But I’m guessing it will be too late.

      • Heart of a Firefly

        We can say the same for you Allen, ‘One day you will wake up and I hope for the love of God it will not be too late for you.
        May God Bless you and make Himself known to you.

        • Matt D

          Nice mantra, but anybody can utter platitudes that sound wise…..see I’ve got one too….”may truth open their eyes to the lies of the lord of flies!” It’s easy to shut your mind off to the truth when you pretend you have it already, isn’t it?

      • C Peterson

        Yes really, like any atheist has suggested such a thing, even remotely. (And the complaint against this kid isn’t coming from atheists, but from secularists. Do you think Jews, or Muslims, or Buddhists want to listen to his preaching, any more than atheists?)

        When people wake up, they realize their theism is silly, and become atheists. Going in the opposite direction is rare. How many people who don’t believe in Santa Claus suddenly develop such a belief?

  • James Lindsay

    Speaking of bravery… had I been graduating in that class, I can only hope that I would have had the bravery to get up and walk out on my own graduation when he started this prayer.

    • Greg G.

      If you would have been in that graduating class, you would have been making the speech. The rest of the class would have blamed you for ruining the curve on all the tests.

      • busterggi

        Nah, he would have been found ‘accidentally lynched’ long before graduation.

      • allen

        Wow!!! Looks like Greg’s in love with James Lindsay. Why are you brown nosing this guy? What a sheep.

        • allein

          Are you in elementary school?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Christ must be so proud of you right now.

    • rob1367

      you’re a moron James… You must be a sheep

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Student public prayers like this are more of an eye roll for me. The demographics are changing. There will be more and more non-Christian Valedictorians, and even in the south one is going to give a prayer to Allah at some point, and then it will stop. Until then, as long as it’s clear this is the student representing themselves, not the school, I’m more bothered by the idea of restricting what they can say. I think there’s a reason why the case law is murky- it’s not so clear that the individual student represents anyone but themselves.

  • Matt

    Ole upstate SC. The buckle on America’s Bible Belt.

    • Lurker111

      Nah, it’s the zipper clasp just below the belt.

  • Mairianna

    Wow! And he was valedictorian????? Doesn’t say much for that school system.

  • DougI

    Wow, he’s so brave being in the majority, kinda like how bullies are really brave beating up weaker kids. What a loser.

    • rob1367

      you’re a loser

      • Earl G.

        Wow, you must need to take a rest after all the effort it took to think up that comeback!

        • Pepe

          I wish I could like this more than once!

      • DougI

        Clearly I am no match for the genius that spent hours thinking of that witty, biting comeback. I am in awe of your brilliance.

      • Matt D

        If you’re talking about that pale, flexing bicep you snapped a photo of, I agree.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          That’s a bicep? Christ, I thought he sprained a ligament and was trying to send a photo of the swelling to the WebMD forums.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            I think that’s what they call a ‘derringer’

    • Wombat319

      This young man gave me hope for the future of our country. Then I real comments on here and, well, we are doomed…

      • RobMcCune

        Really, you have that reaction to reading Wombat319′s comments too?

      • DougI

        Having a douchebag force his religion upon others at taxpayer expense gives you hope for the future? Then Saudi Arabia must be your ideal country. Lots of hope for you there.

      • Matt D

        Well, unfortunately for you, thousands of other religions are even less interested than we in how “hopeful” you find someone sharing your opinions is.
        And history already had a consensus that a theocracy is nothing to “hope” for, so you’ll find few agree that letting one religion stand over the others spouting how they love their ideas is in any way beneficial to that faith. In fact, it’s counter-productive.

  • Harry Churchward

    The so called ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is from Matthew 6:9-13. What’s funny is directly BEFORE the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is written:
    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8)
    He wasn’t being brave, he was being a hypocrite.

    • Hunter Taylor

      The trick isn’t calling out conservative Christians on being hypocrites: it’s getting them to actually recognize that they’re hypocrites.

      • busterggi

        Can’t. It violates the laws of physics somehow.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Thermodynamics Makes Evolution Violate Causality, Therefore Dinosaurs Going Backwards In Time Alter Human DNA To Be More Perfect So They Can Be Hypocrites Before It Goes Against Jesus.

          That was the working title of my thesis for my degree in “Science” from Liberty University, but I couldn’t fit it on the head of a pin, so instead I went with

          Therefore Jesus.

    • The Other Weirdo

      I’ve always found it odd that Jesus went to all that trouble to instruct his followers not to babble like idiots pagans and then immediately provided a way for them to babble like idiots pagans.

      • Nat

        Pagans use to say a long list of divine names after their prayer to draw attention to themselves and hopefully invoke a god to action. That is what babbling refers to. Not the actual prayer itself.

        • The Other Weirdo

          Yes, because it’s the long list of divine names after a prayer that’s the ridiculous part in all of this.

    • viaten

      I’m going to take their side and point out 1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting”. So there. Now the only question is, does Jesus or Paul take precedence. I’ll bet they don’t want to answer that.

      • busterggi

        Silly person! Paul IS Jesus just like Superman is Clark Kent.

        • griffox

          Paul is also Saul, but that’s a different story.

          • Mike Smar

            So Superman is Spiderman?

    • decathelite

      It’s not just hypocrisy. It’s deliberately bearing false witness, and deception. You submit your speech with the good intention of following it, and by going off script it says, “here’s what you think I’m going to say but I’m really going to say something different.”

      • allen

        Yes, but only after the left wing atheist tyrannical gulags at the school board tell him what he can and cannot say based on pressure from groups that try to suppress Christians in order to decrease exposure to Christianity and increase exposure to their ideology. So yes, he’s brave in that regard. So what you’re crying about is that he didn’t play fairly by complying with the restraints that the ideologues placed on him. Oh too bad. I’m really sad about that.

        • TCC

          Talk about gross mischaracterizations. Also, it’s pretty clear that you don’t know what the word “gulag” means.

          • Willy Occam

            It doesn’t matter that allen (or any other right-wing nut) understands the word “gulag”; he is simply doing his part by dropping one of many buzzwords used to strike fear in the hearts of other mindless drones, whose entire philosophy can be reduced to a bumper sticker. Here are some more buzzwords, if you’re playing bingo along at home:

            •Marxist
            •Socialist
            •Atheist
            •Muslim
            •Liberal
            •Collectivist
            •Homosexual
            •Abortionist
            •Agenda (in conjunction with any of the above)

            • TCC

              Oh, I understand that it doesn’t particularly matter to people like allen what gulag means, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pointing out.

            • Miss_Beara

              Don’t forget Communist, Fascist and Nazi. They love to say things to the effect of “this is what the Nazi’s did and look what happened to the Jews! We are headed on that direction!! OMGZ!!!!!1111!!!”

              I never heard of Collectivist before. Learn something new every day.

              • Willy Occam

                Of course Miss Beara, how could I have forgotten those gems as well? I particularly love it when these nuts randomly combine completely contradictory terms in their diatribes, as in “that Atheist-Muslim-Fascist-Socialist Obama.”

                And only the Ayn Rand fanatics seem to use the “collectivist” epithet (often the same ones who conveniently forget she was an atheist).

                • Miss_Beara

                  And collected social security and medicare after demonizing it.

                  But who cares about facts.

              • serriekue

                What does OMGZ mean? Since you’re an athiest it can’t mean “Oh My god”. Just curious.

            • mike

              You forgot Mother and Father

        • decathelite

          I’m crying that he lied about what he was going to say in his speech. which contained the verse “and forgive us our trespasses, that we may forgive those who trespass against us” all while unaware that he was lying and did not ask for forgiveness.

          If you feel the school board wronged him in some way, why don’t you forgive them?

          • phantomreader42

            decathelite, haven’t you learned by now that lying for jesus isn’t a sin, it’s a sacrament? :P
            I mean, it’s not like the Nine Commandments have anything to say against bearing false witness…

            • decathelite

              That’s what the bulk of my posts here are about. They say they have this Objective Moral Standard, but that they don’t need to follow it, because Jesus will forgive them no matter how many times they break it.

              It’s the arrogant moral superiority of saying “we’re better than you” all while acting morally inferior.

              • phantomreader42

                It goes right along with “the perfect, all-powerful, all-seeing, all-knowing creator of absolutely fucking EVERYTHING, is not in any way obligated to live up to even the most minimal moral standards, not even those he supposedly ordered his followers to live by in person.”
                Somehow, the mere suggestion that christians need to STOP BREAKING THE LAW, ASSHOLES, is an unthinkable atrocity punishable by unending torture, but drowning an entire planet or burning people alive forever is just fine.

    • Get your facts strait!

      You should really make sure you understand the bible verses you read and use them correctly. Don’t just throw them around. In these verses, Jesus wasn’t telling his followers to not pray in public. The hypocrites that Jesus is talking about her were referring to his followers, people that undoubtedly believed in him, that were begging for attention through praying. He didn’t want his followers to draw attention to themselves by saying I’m better than you because I pray to God. This man who gave this speech wasn’t trying to draw attention to himself, and he certainly wasn’t saying I’m better than you. He was doing what he though was right. And yes, to stand up for what you believe in, in front of almost everyone you know, and some who don’t believe what you believe is certainly, without a doubt, a very courageous action.

      • allein

        Throwing out your pre-approved speech (and making a point of ripping it up) to say a prayer because the school isn’t allowed to do it themselves isn’t begging for attention?

        • Get your facts strait!

          No, I don’t think it’s begging for attention. I don’t think he said the prayer because the school couldn’t either. I think he said the prayer because in that very moment, he felt like he needed to say the prayer. You don’t know whether the prayer was premeditated or just an impulse. But either way, it’s not asking for attention. I see him ripping up the old speech as a way a showing that what he’s fixing to say wasn’t thought out or scripted.

          • TCC

            If you think this wasn’t premeditated, I have some oceanfront property in Bolivia that I’d like to talk to you about.

          • allein

            Did you watch the video? Certainly seems planned to me. There’s a very smooth transition right into the prayer. I could be wrong but it sounds pretty well practiced.

            • Get your facts strait!

              If you’re just saying what’s on your mind at the moment without thinking to hard about it, the transition would be smooth. Every time i do a report or speech I never have a script. I just say what i feel in that moment.

              • PhiloKGB

                So basically, there’s no way for anyone to violate Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6 as long as you personally believe their mindset was proper and you can handwave everything else. Got it.

                • phantomreader42

                  No, it’s just the general principle that every single word of hte bible is absolute, unquestionable truth…except those portions that are inconvenient for christianists at any given moment, which magically disappear until they can be used as a weapon to force christianity on a captive audience.

          • phantomreader42

            So, in your delusions, lying about what you’re going to say, going before a captive audience and theatrically destroying the approved speech, then loudly, publicly reciting a prayer for said captive audience so people praise your righteousness and bravery (both of which are imaginary) is NOT begging for attention. You can’t imagine how praying before an audience to be seen by people is in any way analagous to praying “standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others”.

            I see, you don’t know what words mean. Not surprising, as you can’t even be bothered to spell your own name right.

            • serriekue

              U R so petty. UR seriously going to demand people to spell perfectly in a chat room? U’v never used shortcuts in a chatroom? Very very petty.

              • phantomreader42

                So, you can’t be bothered to address the actual issue, all you can do is whine. U R so stupid and lazy!

                • serriekue

                  U apparently haven’t seen my other posts over the passed couple of days. Complaining about how someone spells their name isn’t addressing the issue.

                • serriekue

                  What did you get your PhD in? And your doctrinal thesis? What was the title?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  doctrinal thesis

                  ok, now that’s a funny mistake

          • Sarah

            Your argument is that your translation of the bible is correct, which says things that the bible does not actually say. You added several lines to make it say what you wanted it to say. The bible also speaks against that. I find, often, that Christians literally interpret anything that doesn’t apply to them, but the moment that there are rules about your own religion that apply to you, no one is interpreting them correctly.

            Having a disciplined mind is part of being a follower of any path, religious or no. Being a Christian is not brave or difficult as the sweeping majority, in a land where most laws are catered to that religion (marriage, holidays, sexual laws, moral codes, entertainment, political exemptions, etc etc etc etc). Creating a martyr out of every Christian does nothing to further your religion. The sole purpose of Christianity, as I understand it, is to turn people to Christ, and the martyr complex of so many American “Christians” has caused deep hatred from nonbelievers, even turning the believers away.

            What this boy did was to stand on a street corner, grabbing attention for his act. Whether or not you believe he did it with a right mind doesn’t matter. I’d love for you to show me where Christ said “But it’s ok, as long as you have a right mind, or as long as the audience that actively is cheering you on thinks you do.”

            I urge you to reconsider the way that you perceive non Christians. As Christ considered all brothers, no matter who they were, equal.

            At the same time, we ought to have compassion on this boy. Regardless of if he doesn’t understand his religion, regardless of his ignorance of other paths, his aversion to those who are different from him – calling him names isn’t going to educate him or ease his anger toward non Christians.

      • TCC

        Is the Facts Strait near the Bay of Ignorance? (Or better yet, the Bay of Fundy?)

        • Willy Occam

          I was wondering the same thing when I read that name!

        • serriekue

          Man, U R petty

          • TCC

            At least I can spell words.

            • serriekue

              Strait IS a word. It is a verb a noun
              Verb
              1
              archaic: strict, rigorous
              2
              archaic a: narrow b: limited in space or time c: closely fitting : constricted, tight
              3
              a: causing distress : difficult b: limited as to means or resources
              NOUN
              1
              archaic: a narrow space or passage
              b: a comparatively narrow passageway connecting two large bodies of water —often used in plural but singular in construction c: isthmus
              2
              : a situation of perplexity or distress —often used in plural

              • serriekue

                UR just petty petty petty and intolerant intolerant intolerant.

                • TCC

                  Go ahead and keep repeating that to yourself like a mantra.

              • TCC

                I meant “you” and “are.” Do try to keep up.

                Edit: And of course I know what “strait” means. I made a fucking pun using it! Seriously, is it too much to ask for a sharper troll these days?

      • RobMcCune

        Yes, his speech was trying to draw attention to himself to show he’s better than other people, get your facts straight.

        • Alie

          Really? You should go check that again, and maybe get some insight of how a rational human mind works first, cause you are way off.

          • RobMcCune

            Teenagers and christians have rational human minds? Don’t make me laugh. You’re telling me that praying in front of a microphone to spite the people who objected to prayer as part of the ceremony isn’t the kind of egotistical grandstanding condemned in Matthew 6?

            • Alie

              Ugh! There are so many things wrong with what you just said. Anyone can have a rational mind if they just try, and you are not trying. And I always hear complaints about how Christians stereotype and hate, and then that’s all that ever happens to Christians. They aren’t all the same. While some need to read and learn what their bibles actually teach a little more, not all of them are that way. I also have no idea where you got the feeling that he was trying to spite people, but you’re wrong again. Just because he says something that he feels or believes doesn’t mean he’s spiting people. And finally, you can’t just take a bible verse out of context because no, that is not the type of hypocrite that Jesus is talking about in Matthew 6. He isn’t saying that praying in public is a bad thing! Maybe you should read the verses again and do some research on them to understand them if you still don’t.

              • Baby_Raptor

                Your entire argument is “What I think is right and what you think is wrong.”

                Seriously.

                You have no proof that what you’re saying is right in either of your claims. The very wording of the verse in question contradicts you, and the kid’s actions do as well.

                But apparently you can read minds, so whatever.

              • thesauros

                Atheists can’t do it Alie. Reading or re reading even a million times won’t allow them any more clarity. They have eyes that are spiritually blind and ears that are spiritually deaf. Asking an atheist to understand what Jesus is saying is like asking someone in a wheelchair to roll herself up a flight of stairs. It can’t be done.
                thesauros-store.blogspot.com

                • Matt D

                  I find being spriritually “blind and deaf” to those who understood as much about the life as a five year old, to be a wise position. But then, I’m not trying to increase the number of visitors to my blog as you are.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Does Jesus love your bigotry?

                  By the way, plugging your own blog on someone else’s without permission is rude and churlish.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I understand full well what the Bible and Jesus said. The question is, do you? Because every time I talk to you, you either ignore the “bad verses” or claim that they don’t say what they very clearly do say. How is is spiritually deaf or blind to say “this is an immoral book full of bad teachings whose few good teachings do not redeem it”?

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Read the ENTIRE PASSAGE sometime. Then go buy some tweezers to get that beam out. It must smart.

              • vincent findley

                You shut his ass up!!!

      • Baby_Raptor

        Get your name *straight* before you try lecturing people on how they aren’t translating a book the same way you do.

        And, no. To stand up in a Christian majority knowing he would have full support and be Fucking LAUDED for doing what he did took no courage whatsoever. If you honestly think this kid needed balls to do what he did, you need a lesson on what courage really is.

      • Hat Stealer

        I love how whenever someone brings up Matthew 6:9-13, inevitably some Christian somewhere goes “What are you, stupid? The passage where Jesus explicitly says ‘do not pray in public’ is clearly a metaphor/ taken out of context/ not meant literally/ all three. What, did you think that the passage that says ‘do not pray in public’ actually means ‘do not pray in public?’ ”

        Reminds me of this comic. http://amultiverse.com/2012/03/13/kittens-in-a-barrel/

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          The part about not being like the hypocrites could be taken to mean “don’t just pray to be seen praying; pray because you mean.” However, it must be read in the context of the surrounding lines. Telling the believe to go into his closet to pray is very clearly not metaphor.

          So when a Christian makes this counterclaim, what they’re saying is that they don’t know what context and metaphor are.

      • Amakudari

        No, it isn’t, because this is not an appropriate forum for airing whatever views you damn well feel like. It’s the graduation ceremony for your fellow students, and you should be respectful of them.

        I was the valedictorian of my high school. I could have “stood up” for any number of political or religious views I hold, but I didn’t because that’s not the point. Be tactful and congratulate everyone, honor the contributions of their families and community, and give a good anecdote. Taking advantage of a captive audience is just rude.

      • yewad131

        He certainly indirectly said, “I’m better than you atheists, muslims, buddhists, non-christian people.”

      • Matt D

        There are hundreds (if not more) sects of Christianity, because they can’t agree what the bible means. Thus telling Atheists they don’t understand bible verses is not a sensible position to take when you don’t either. I’m sure it makes you feel better, but if you you should be more concerned about the truth, than how you feel about it.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        The line about the closet cannot be taken as metaphor. You should really make sure you understand the English language before making arguments based on it.

      • serriekue

        Adults need to take a lesson from this kid in standing up for their faith. For the past 50 years there has been an all out assault on anything to do with Christianity. The ACLU and other anti-Christian groups have brought lawsuit after lawsuit in the effort to censor and suppress Christians. It’s long overdue that Christians not bow down to the bullies. What doesn’t make any sense is how athiest can be so threatened by someone they don’t believe in. If they weren’t threatened they would try so hard to censor any Christian or Biblical worldview. It did take guts for this kid to to defy those whose authority he was under for the past 4 years. Being from the south he’s probably always done what those in authority told him to do. He’s a great example that others should emulate.

    • serriekue

      Obviously you do not know the meaning of the word hypocrite. In the passage you quoted Jesus was talking about those that just want to appear religious but don’t actually have a relationship with God. It’s just for show. Not every prayer said out loud in public is hypocritical if it is a genuine prayer calling out to the One True God. But nice try.

      • Harry Churchward

        Is it that obvious? Is it not just as obvious that this kid wasn’t actually looking for a ‘relationship with God,’ but looking for the applause which he recieved at the end of his speech?

        • serriekue

          He had no idea that that was the reaction he was going to get from the audience. Those of us that are Christians are called to take a stand for Christ and the ACLU and other God-hating people have been trying to shut us up for decades, ok millenia. Our faith is not something we can take off and put on it is what identifies us. By forcing us to shut up and not allow us to proclaim our faith is making us deny who we are. Jesus said in Matthew 10:33 “But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” Those who deny Jesus are going to have a rude awakening and it will last for eternity. Hopefully you will discover the truth before it’s too late.

          • TCC

            As I told someone else, if you think that Costner didn’t have at minimum a good suspicion what the reaction would be, that beachfront property in Bolivia is still for sale, and I could arrange an open house for you.

            Also, you do realize that the ACLU frequently defends or writes amicus curiae briefs in defense of Christians, right? You’ve bought a lie.

          • Bill Santagata

            In this case your religion prohibits you from speaking in a government-sponsored forum. Just as Jehovah’s Witnesses can’t vote and Orthodox Jews can’t eat pork, going by what you are saying about your faith (anytime you are in front of a public audience you MUST evangelize to them) you cannot speak from a government forum in this country.

            The school has a legal obligation to ensure that the content of the speeches given at its graduation ceremonies are secular and they have a right to modify the speeches to ensure that they comport with the Establishment Clause. The government cannot give you a platform to speak from so that you can evangelize. This is not what the government is there for.

            • vincent findley

              They didn’t Mr Santagata from R.I. He ripped it up and made his own after they modified it. protected by the constitution you all defend.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            The ACLU DEFENDS Christians. Does Jesus love it when you talk about things of which you’re ignorant, and in so doing commit slander and libel?

            Your threats to have your sky-daddy beat me up are being given exactly as much attention as they deserve. Don’t forget to come inside when recess is over.

            • serriekue

              You are hilarious! the ACLU DEFENDS Christians? You’re delusional. I’m seriously laughing out loud. Their founder’s main goal was to create a communist state and the first thing they need to do to accomplish such is to get God out of the mainstream so they go around suing every little city, library or little town who has a cross, manger scene or prays before their city council meeting. I’m surprised they haven’t tried to get the letter “t” taken out of our alphabet because it is in the shape of the cross. They do just the opposite of defending Christians. They are the most antagonistic towards Christianity in this country. You may want to do your own homework before you accuse someone else of being wrong. You’re obviously drunk on Koolaid.

              • TCC

                I see that you didn’t take the opportunity to look at the link I posted yesterday. A whole list of ACLU cases where the ACLU defended Christians. This is really quite well-documented and simple to demonstrate. You show your own prejudice and ignorance.

              • TCC

                I should also note that you’ve only heard half the story about Roger Baldwin’s alleged Communist ties. While Baldwin did support Communism early on, he later saw the Soviet Union’s totalitarianism and ended up rejecting communism, even going so far as to purge the ACLU of Communists in the 1940s. The example you give aren’t “get[ting] God out of the mainstream” but properly separating church and state. The government has no business praying during their meetings (i.e. at the beginning, which is what the ACLU and other church-state groups oppose), nor of putting up explicitly religious displays on government property. This whole narrative of eradicating God from the “public square” is utterly false.

                • serriekue

                  Show me where it says “Separation of Church & State” in the US Constitution. I know obama doesn’t believe in the Constitution but it is still the law of the land. Oh, and the establishment clause doesn’t count. That is protecting religious institutions from government not the other way around. You can go ahead and look but you won’t find it in the Constitution Nor does it appear in any official founding documents because it’s a myth. Thomas Jefferson wrote “wall of separation between church and state” to the Danbury Baptist Association to ensure to them that the government would not be dictating their spiritual lives like they had expereinced in England. Praying at a school board meeting no more establishes a religion then the President throwing out the first pitch of a baseball game establishes team ownership.
                  If athiests are so possitive that God doesn’t exist then what difference does it make if other pray to someone they don’t believe in?

                  “My “chief aversion” is the system of greed, private profit,
                  privilege, and violence which makes up the control of the world today, and which has brought it the tragic crisis of unprecedented hunger and unemployment. I am
                  opposed to the new deal because it strives to strengthen and prolong production for private profit. At bottom I am for conserving the full powers of every person on earth by expanding them to their individual limits. Therefore, I am for socialism, disarmament, and ultimately for abolishing the State itself as an instrument of property, the abolition of the propertied class and sole control by those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal. It sums up
                  into one single purpose — the abolition of the system dog-eat-dog under which we live, and the substitution by the most effective non-violence possible of a system of cooperative ownership and use of all wealth.”

                  (From Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union [New York: Columbia University Press, 2000], pp. 228-229.)

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I know obama doesn’t believe in the Constitution

                  translation: I don’t agree with this particular person who specialized in constitutional law, so I’ll just claim that he “doesn’t believe” in the constitution. That’s also how we get the term “activist judge”.

                  Oh, and the establishment clause doesn’t
                  count.

                  Good to know. We’ll look for you on the bench of the SCOTUS.

                  That is protecting religious institutions from government not the other way around.

                  The establishment clause protects religious positions from each other.

                  Thomas Jefferson wrote “wall of separation between church and state” to the Danbury Baptist Association to ensure to them that the government would not be dictating their spiritual lives like they had expereinced in England.

                  The Danbury Baptists weren’t just afraid of government dictating their spiritual lives. They were afraid of the majority religion of the time using government to dictate their spiritual lives.

                  From their letter to Jefferson:

                  Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation, and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. And these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen.

                  The Danbury Baptists were the minority religion, and faced persecution by the majority. They didn’t want that religious majority to have the chance to use government to further their persecution.

                  Whatever you think the verbiage in the Establishment clause means, it should be abundantly clear that keeping government out of church can’t be a one way street. If we let church into government, then we don’t have true religious liberty for the churches that don’t get into government.

                • TCC

                  Show me where it says “Separation of Church & State” in the US Constitution.

                  Show me where it says “separation of powers” in the Constitution or where it says “Trinity” in the Bible first.

                  Oh, and the establishment clause doesn’t count. That is protecting religious institutions from government not the other way around…Thomas Jefferson wrote “wall of separation between church and state” to the Danbury Baptist Association to ensure to them that the government would not be dictating their spiritual lives like they had expereinced [sic] in England.

                  Simply put: No. For one, the Danbury Baptists weren’t actually talking about England; they were talking about their treatment in Massachusetts, which had an established religion (the Congregational Church).
                  Second, there’s more of a history to this beyond the Danbury Baptists and Thomas Jefferson. James Madison (i.e. the person most responsible for the First Amendment as it now reads) stated in his “Memorial and Remonstrance”:

                  Because Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body. The latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their jurisdiction is both derivative and limited: it is limited with regard to the co-ordinate departments, more necessarily is it limited with regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free Government requires not merely, that the metes and bounds which separate each department of power be invariably maintained; but more especially that neither of them [religion and government] be suffered to overleap the great Barrier which defends the rights of the people. The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves. (emphasis mine)

                  This was in response to the Assessment Bill, a bill brought by Patrick Henry in the Virginia Legislature that supported giving taxpayer money to churches (originally only one but later broadened to allow taxpayers to choose which church the tax would go to). The bill never passed, and instead VA passed the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, something that Jefferson considered one of his greatest achievements.

                  Finally, regarding Roger Baldwin: That quotation is from Baldwin’s earlier years, but I explicitly stated that he rejected those later on, having seen the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union. Maybe you should read this biographical sketch of Baldwin written by Robert Cottrell, the author of the work you just cited.

                • serriekue

                  I never said the “Separation of Powers” was in the Constitution or “Trinity” was in the Bible. What in the world does that have to do with the price of potatoes in Uraguay? One has nothing to do with the other, but nice try.

                  The Founders were fully aware of a state run church and how it inhibits the citizens to truely worship freely. No Founder meant to suppress anyone from freely expressing their spiritual views in public or on government property. They understood that their spiritual view were not something that one wears that can be turned on or off but it is something that we are. Even those that did not hold deep spiritual views still respected those that did.

                  How idiotic would it be to tell an athiest to leave their atheism at home or a scientist to leave his scientific knowledge at home. A Christian can’t turn his faith on and off at the flip of a switch anymore than an athiest can turn their faith in no God can turn theirs on and off. You don’t stop believe what you believe simply because of your geographical location.

                • TCC

                  The point is that a concept can be evident in a text without the phrase used to describe it being in the text itself. I figured that at least separation of powers might be something you’d recognize as a clearly constitutional concept, but obviously not.

                  As for the rest, I have no idea what any of that has to do with anything. I would call the last paragraph a strawman if I had any idea what in the hell you were trying to say. I think you might be mixing up your arguments, as I’ve not said anything about Christians “turning their faith off” in any given place. I think Christians in government, however, have a legal and ethical obligation not to legislate in ways that promote Christianity or religion more broadly, since they represent Christians and non-Christians alike.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I’ll take “well understood concepts that aren’t stated explicitly in their respective documents” for 1000 Alex!

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Most of what you write isn’t worth responding to, since you can stew on your own just fine without my help, but…

                Your being ignorant of the ACLU’s history, despite having Google at your fingertips, is your issue, not anyone else’s. Your pastor passes on lies about the group and you stupidly believe them, apparently out of an allergy to information. It’s really easy to look up; if not for the ACLU’s constant work, you would now have fewer actual rights than you do. Having a pathetic little conspiracy theory wedged in your head doesn’t change that.

                It was Flavor-Aid. Jim Jones was too cheap to even buy Kool-Aid. Read a book, dumbass.

                • serriekue

                  If the ACLU where such defenders of Christians why did they try to criminalize Christianity in Rosa County School District in Flordia in 2008. Among the people they sued one was a teacher’s husband for praying at a restraunt for something that wasn’t even school related as part of a wide spread effort to marginalize and criminalize anyone who was living out their Christian faith. You will never see the ACLU trying to squelch muslims or hindus or buddists or athiests.

                  Every time you guys resort to name calling everyone who disagrees with you, which is a typical response to anyone who believes something different than you, you lose your credibility because you don’t have the intellecutal fortitude to express your ideas without name calling.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        The part about the closet is clearly not metaphor. Feel free to try again.

    • commonsense_is_dead

      Get a life loser.

      • TCC

        What a stunning retort. You must win awards for that incisive wit.

        P.S. What’s a “life loser”? Wait, never mind, I think you illustrated that one nicely.

      • Nick And Jake

        This person is an incarnation of the devil.

        • Matt D

          Who?

          • Nick And Jake

            Good point.

            • Matt D

              If it’s a good point, why did you avoid the question?

              • Nick And Jake

                Figured you were quick enough to understand what that meant. Both times.

                My mistake.

                • Matt D

                  It’s true you made a mistake in assuming I can read your mind, but I made one by assuming you were not a flakey theist who treats their faith like a salad bar.
                  Regardless, I do not visit this blog (or the other dozen) to argue with trolls and apologists , so have fun desperately validating your self worth to strangers and carry on.

                • Nick And Jake

                  Then why do you? To validate your own BS? You are in your element here. Yet you felt the need to pick a fight with me, but were too stupid to understand I was agreeing with you, at least in that moment.

                  You were blind to that fact because your entire intention when you responded to my comment was to argue. I wasn’t even talking to you. You have a chip on your shoulder. It’s not my fault. You were angry about something which has nothing to do with me. You have something to prove. Which all together actually makes YOU the troll. And possibly a bigoted hypocrite. Either way it’s sad.

                  There’s nothing worse than a hypocrite, except for maybe a bigoted simpleton.

                  Well I guess sociopaths are pretty bad too but we both know you aren’t smart enough to be one of those.

  • Hunter Taylor

    I don’t know if there are any educators reading this, but I’m curious, if you were one of the school administrators sitting on that stage, what would you have done? Some of the administrators in the background look really uncomfortable. Perhaps this is a question that can’t be answered or a line of thought that shouldn’t be pursued, but could anyone have done anything once he started? What do you think?

    • allein

      I guess it’s a question of whether it’s better to disrupt the speech and cause an even bigger scene, or just let him finish and move on with the program…

      • Lurker111

        Yeah, I think once something like this starts, it’s better to let it finish and get it over with. Agree with you.

    • griffox

      I’m not an educator, but can you imagine the headlines after an administrator stops a Christian student during a prayer? I think they did the right thing. No need to make this kid feel like more of a martyr.

  • EllieMay

    This young man was valedictorian of his graduating class? The above sample of his writing speaks volumes to the quality of education Liberty is providing.

    • JET

      Those were my exact initial thoughts. My kids could write better than that when they were in the fourth grade.

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      Yeah, that was my first thought too. They must have some awfully low standards.

    • Stev84

      He can go straight on to “Liberty” “University”

      • JET

        I have a very Christian nephew who went to “Liberty” “University” for a year. He is still very Christian, but decided that he wanted a “real education” (his words) and is now enrolled in a state college. I have hope for the boy.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Damn. THAT is a glowing recommendation to be sure.

        • Wombat319

          You mean the Hilter-esque state colleges with professors who refuse to teach the REAL American history and only want to make everyone an Obama-bot. THOSE state colleges?

          • TCC

            Yes, praise be to Mr. Hilter!

          • Sven2547

            Those fictional, non-existent colleges?

          • RobMcCune

            Oh no, not those ones, real actual colleges.

          • DougI

            So where are these state colleges in America that fired all the Jewish and Atheist professors?

    • averydashwood

      It was an appalling writing sample. Surely, he must have proofed that before he released it. Bravo!

  • griffox

    To me, this is just a big “F you” to anyone who isn’t a Christian. It is intolerant and it’s rude. Why can’t Christians understand why it isn’t acceptable to make a secular public school graduation all about one religion – especially when the main tenet of that religion is that all others will be eternally punished. It’s disgusting how they love to rub that in the faces of others. Jerks.

    • thesauros

      “To me, this is just a big “F you” to anyone who isn’t a Christian.”

      It could be. And if you’re right it’s pretty sad. On the other hand, people aren’t usually very open to change. We dig a rut as deep as we can and call it stability. We’re even less open to feeling forced to change. Even if change is the right thing to do. Seat belts; not smoking in restaurants; not driving while impaired, the list goes on and on and so does the initial resistance.

      On the other hand, while forcing a crowd to pray regardless of the makeup of the crowd is wrong. Sharing one’s world-view as it pertains to your future is not wrong.

      The kid did sound though like he just wanted to stir the pot and, ya, to bully those in the minority.
      thesauros-store.blogspot.com

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Actually, forcing others to submit to any religious anything in publicly funded buildings and/or at public functions is wrong. Period. It doesn’t matter your intent in this case, the action is wrong.

        Legal, probably. I agree with Sven that given that this is a limited free speech forum for students, it ought to stay legal. But it is ethically wrong and inconsiderate and rude. How arrogant, selfish, and self-righteous do you have to be to miss that?

        • thesauros

          So, “bully those in the minority” wasn’t worded strongly enough for you?

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            You condemned his motivation, not his action. When you said “sharing one’s world-view as it pertains to your future is not wrong”, you implied that the action of praying at graduation is not inherently problematic. That what this kid did was unacceptable because of why he did it, not because of what he did. That isn’t worded strongly enough for me, no.

            • thesauros

              I know. Free speech has always been a problem for atheists.

              Someone below has suggested that praying be removed to Churches. History has shown however that for atheists, just knowing that people are praying behind closed doors becomes an intolerable situation.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                “History” has shown no such thing. The Nordic countries in Europe, despite being majority atheist, in no way prevent religious people from having houses of worship nor from being open about their religious beliefs. What they do is enforce secular government; that is, government that neither promotes nor suppresses religious beliefs.

                Why is is so hard to understand that what this boy did is immoral and unethical but totally legal? That he had the right to do it but, by any standard of behavior, should not have done so? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

                • thesauros

                  And that’s why I said he was “bullying a minority” but that seems unclear to you.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Yes and no. You said, and I quote, “[t]he kid did sound though like he just wanted to stir the pot and, ya, to bully those in the minority”. In other words, his intent was to bully people and thus his prayer was unacceptable.

                  What you did not say was that prayer at a graduation is always unacceptable. Those words did not cross from your brain, across your fingers, and through the Internet. My argument is that it doesn’t matter if someone wants to bully people or just wants to share their worldview; prayer at graduation is always the wrong choice.

                  In other words; you condemned his motivation but not his action. You condemned “wanted to bully”, but you did not condemn “prayer”. That’s weaksauce.

                • thesauros

                  That’s right. And I disagree with you. If ever a young person who is an atheist gets into that position, and as young people often do, commits a social gaff by spouting off how materialism is this and that, and everyone should adhere to materialism because it’s the only correct world view, I’d cut that kid some slack if I thought h/her motivation was simply sharing from the heart.

                  I don’t think this kid was sharing from his heart. I think he was trying to push people around, and that’s wrong.

                  Anything more is denying free speech.
                  thesauros-store.blogspot.com

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  No, it’s not. Denying free speech is saying someone can’t do something legally. Calling exclusionary behavior unethical, no matter what motivates it, is in fact not an imposition on free speech.

                  So yes, I clearly disagree with you. I find your stance unethical, and further I find this whole thread to be yet another example of your deliberate obtuseness and your willingness to find excuses to say mean things about atheists regardless of their truth content. It took ~10 comments for you to get the point of “you condemned his motivation but not his action”. No one could be that dense except on purpose.

                • griffox

                  Yeah. I’m totally fine with a Christian saying that their faith helped get them through school or that their church family was a big support growing up. I’m even fine with them acknowledging God when giving thanks to the people who were instrumental in their success. Like, you said, though, that is not what this kid did. In the same vein, and I can’t really make an apt comparison since Atheists don’t pray, but if an Atheist made even tiny insinuations that religion is a crock of shit, I would call them out on it, because a public school graduation ceremony is not the place for that. All in all, I think I’m on the same page as you in this matter, theosauros.

                • thesauros

                  I think I’m on the same page as you . . .thesauros.

                  So, you write that on this blog because you’re a masochist? ;-)

                • griffox

                  Haha…

                • rwlawoffice

                  How in the world is this immoral or unethical? Would you say the same to a student you got up and stated his atheist beliefs? Or does it only become immoral or unethical when it is a Christian?

                  Knowing you can’t stop it legally, despite the attempts of FFRF and the ACLU, atheists are now using the cry of outrage to try and silence Christians from expressing their faith in legal manners, by calling it immoral and unethical or a douchbag move. Very typical.

                • griffox

                  The way I measure whether or not my reasoning is unbiased is if I would apply it to all situations across the board. Usually, the same could not be said for those on the opposing side. I did not not say that he should be stopped from praying or that what he did was illegal. I said, he was disrespectful. To answer your question, if an Atheist got up, on his graduation day, in front of the whole assembly and insinuated that religion was a fairytale, I would absolutely call him or her a jerk. I would apply that to any religion equally.

                  This kid was made aware that not everyone in the audience is a Christian and that it is unfair to make them sit through a prayer at a publicly funded assembly on their graduation day. The ethical thing to do in these situations is to have no prayer – not to make the Atheists happy – but to keep from putting one religion on a pedestal above the others. He chose to disrespect his peers when he decided to force them to sit through “The Lord’s Prayer.” Would you feel okay if a Satanist read from their holy text? If a Wiccan read an incantation? After all, it’s their right and we should respect that. Would you apply your reasoning to all religions across the board? Or do you only want it to apply to your special religion?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  See below. Yes, it would be unethical. If an atheist valedictorian got up, told everyone there were no gods, talked about how knowing there were no gods was so important to hir success, and implicitly invited everyone to make that affirmation with hir, that would be also be exclusionary and unethical. It’s just basic common sense to make celebrations of an event (graduating high school) as inclusive of all the people as possible.

                • Edmond

                  Simply “stating” one’s beliefs would not be immoral or unethical, if it’s a short acknowledgement of what they believe their religion has done for them. But halting the entire assembly for a religious ritual (i.e. prayer), so that the students present who are not part of that religion are made to feel like outsiders, is distasteful grandstanding. Does Christian expression of religion mean that every public assembly must become a “mob” of Christians proving how much louder they can be than any minorities in their midst?

              • Carmelita Spats

                Bullshit. I’m atheist and I could care less if someone is
                hankerin’ fer Jeeezus in front of Home Depot, at 11:00 a.m., on a Sunday mornin’, to the point that his Imaginary Friend penetrates his Jesus-addled brain, gives him itchy chigger bites, till he’s hopping around, faith-based crazy, like a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest. The Holy Spirit may cause the TRUE believer to bray somethin’ real purty ’bout how Jesus kicks him through the goal posts of life…or some-such nonsense like the Lord’s Prayer…I’d find it hilarious and I would NOT want him to stop. You underestimate the blasphemer’s sense of humor. Blasphemy is a blast-for-me. Free speech is delightful when it produces a sideshow of religious blathering. My only problem with the Lord’s Prayer is that it is painfully boring and if I’m a captive audience, I want to bust a gut laughing. Hell, everyone should be able to do one card trick, tell two jokes and recite three prayers in case they are ever trapped in an elevator…just for giggles.

                • griffox

                  Good point! And if he has the right to say the Lord’s Prayer, doesn’t the audience have the right to heckle? Or would it be rude to force everyone to listen to what you have to say?

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Your libel on behalf of Jesus is noted, if not surprising.

        • Wombat319

          He said what he wanted to. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re in the audience and don’t agree, you are FREE TO LEAVE.

          • Sven2547

            Read. Learn.
            A Christian’s plea to other Christians: “Why I’m against pre-game prayers”

            This is by a Christian father whose kids attend a majority Buddhist school. Oh how the tables have turned.

            I would say in love to my Christian brothers and sisters, before you yearn for the imposition of prayer and similar rituals in your public schools, you might consider attending a football game at Wahiawa High School. Because unless you’re ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears, you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them.

            This man has seen the light and walked a mile in someone else’s shoes. Wombat319, in stark contrast, has no such perspective. For him, Christian-supremacy is the norm, and anyone else can suck it up.

          • allein

            I was not free to simply get up and walk out of my high school graduation. There were teachers at the end of every row to keep us in line (and confiscate our beach balls). We also had a dress code and some other rules to follow.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Free to leave my own graduation, before I’ve walked across the stage? Gee, thanks. Your empathy and compassion overwhelms me.

            Again: it’s legal. It’s also a totally jackass thing to do and deliberately excludes those who do not share his beliefs. It taints a day that should be an unvarnished celebration for all involved. Why do you think that’s acceptable behavior?

          • DougI

            Funny, he’s free to pray in a church but opted to pray in a taxpayer financed school in violation of our Constitution. How about that fucktard freely leave the country so we don’t have to be forced to subsidize his religion?

      • TCC

        I’ll give you credit for at least noting the likely intentions of the speaker, which is frankly more than I expected.

    • rob1367

      about a given big F you to your post… You are a jerk

      • Earl G.

        I see your English skills are on par with Roy’s. Did you perhaps attend the same school?

      • griffox

        You can come up with a better argument than that. Use your big boy words.

    • sonwhorshipper

      We feel like we should have the same rights as you do not to pray. No one is asking you to convert. And I am sure you will not have permanent damage from hearing a prayer. Maybe you could learn a thing or two if you lighten u and maybe don’t always have it be about your non belief….Obviously from the applause as he begins to say the Lord’s Prayer most that were there were not offended. In this case you were in the minority

      • allein

        Expecting a public school graduation to be a secular ceremony is not “about [our] non belief.” It’s the Christians who have this need to inject their religion into everything who are making it all about their belief. These people weren’t cheering just because he prayed at graduation; they were cheering because he was oh so brave to shoehorn his prayer in there after the school had to remove it from the official program.

      • griffox

        Not praying is a neutral position. It does not show favoritism to Atheists or any other religion. Showing favoritism looks like this: “I know that many of you are not Christians. You can sit quietly while I pray to my Christian God. If you don’t like it, plug your ears.”

      • Willy Occam

        I think your internet name either has an extra “h” (“son-worshipper”) or is missing an “e” (“son-whore-shipper”).

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Because it doesn’t count if only SOME people are ambushed with unwanted prayer forced on them at a government event they paid and worked to attend.

        Do you people even hear yourselves?

  • Guest

    Valedictorian in South Carolina sounds like the equivalent of the “least mentally disabled” kid in a non-Bible belt state.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Y’know, I thought that joke from Waiting was pretty funny. Then I grew up.

  • ORAXX

    If this teenage ass hat ever comes to realize he’s an ass hat….I will be the first one to forgive him. Or…he could grow up to be the next Pat Robertson.

  • JET

    I am anxiously awaiting the first truly brave non-theistic valedictorian who makes a graduation speech somewhere in the bible belt. He or she might simply make statements about embracing reality, wisely using our short lives in the cosmic eternity, being grateful that he lives in a country that values the Constitutional rights of fellow human beings, and “thank” his teachers for encouraging him to think critically against all odds. The shit will hit the fan.

    • busterggi

      They wouldn’t live to finish the speech.

    • meekinheritance

      The Salutatorian will make an unscheduled sectarian response. And, the crowd will wonder at how the Valedictorian could possibly have higher grades.

  • Stev84

    Some states just need to nuked for the good of the whole planet.

    • JohnH2

      What kind of intolerant idiot are you? Someone believes differently than you and takes a limited free speech opportunity to express that difference and now you suggest nuking the entire state?

      • Thackerie

        Relax, sugarburger. Pretty sure it was a joke.

        • TCC

          Some jokes aren’t funny.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            It isn’t funny, but it is too exaggerated to be glommed onto as a sign of violent tendencies or even insensitivity. If someone talks about nuking, say, Iran, that is another matter, because that is a realistic possibility that also carries with it an implication of rather horrifying provocation.

            It’s worth noting that JohnH2 has put himself firmly on the fainting couch here by going to other blogs to claim that because one guy made a dumb joke about nuking the South, atheists are therefore evil.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Your being too incompetent at reading comprehension to understand accepted hyperbole and idioms is not a disadvantage for anyone but you.

  • thesauros

    “but is this legal?”

    What if it is Hemant? What if it is legal to speak openly about your world-view – a world-view that isn’t materialism? Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing? Just think of the outrage Hemant. What if you have to live in a country where people are free to talk about Jesus anywhere – legally!

    The last time I suggested that you, Hemant wanted to eliminate the possibility of hearing the name of Jesus, your supporters came to your defense. They said you were only interested in the separation of Church and State. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now. I think that you and the rest of the atheist leaders in the U.S. care more than anything about creating a country where you never again have to listen to someone talk about ANY world-view that isn’t atheism.
    thesauros-store.blogspot.com

    That may come, when and if the majority of people decide that it’s best. Or when enough atheists make it into positions of power. It’s what atheist leaders do. Until then it looks like we have to live with an attitude described so well by atheist Michael Newdow (sp?) a few years ago. “Some day we atheists will be in the majority, and then we’ll have things our way.”

    Ya, and until then, the minority will still try to have things their way.

    • sk3ptik0n

      So it will be OK by you if the next valedictorian rips his speech next year and sing the praises of Mohammed? Or about if he start waxing poetic about Marxism Leninism?

      This would not be half the problem it is if Christians in this country didn’t try to curtail other people’s speech and their very lifestyles every step of the way.

      Case in point, the ad campaign atheist did a year or so ago where a simple banner with the word “Atheist” on it created a furor.

      Or just move on over to the next post with that shining example of Christian tolerance toward a Hindu prayer in congress.

      It’s because of that that you need to be stopped and limited to your places of worship. You have demonstrated that you are incapable to live in a pluralist society and that given the chance you will silence everyone else with your cries of Jesus.

      Go watch that video, then report back.

      • JohnH2

        I am fine with the next valedictorian (of whatever gender) saying whatever they desire to say in their limited free speech opportunity with the other members of the public being free to express disagreement in legitimate areas of free speech.

        I am not okay with sentiments that “you need to be stopped and limited to your places of worship” ad this is expressing a desire to violate the freedom of religion and freedom of speech of those you disagree with.

        • Sven2547

          I am not okay with sentiments that “you need to be stopped and limited to your places of worship”

          Which is not what anyone’s saying. Spare us the persecution complex.

          EDIT: looks like I’m a moron. One person did say that.

          • JohnH2

            Um, Sven, that was an exact quote of what was said.

            • Sven2547

              He’s talking about you personally, not Christians as a group. Lots of Christians get it. You don’t.

              • JohnH2

                He wasn’t talking about me personally, because he wasn’t responding to me. If he was talking specifically about thesauros then he should have clarified that was the case. His usage of you was consistent with a general you.

              • Blacksheep

                No, he’s referring to Christians as a group.

          • Blacksheep

            isn’t it an exact, word-for-word quote from the above post?

        • sk3ptik0n

          Stopped from trying to pervert the constitution and being intolerant toward other religions or non religions.
          Stopped from pushing Christianity in government buildings and settings. Stopped from forcing your religion in our schools and government.
          Is that better? No one wants to stop you from worshipping and no one wants to limit your speech wholesale, but there is an easy test you can do. If there are settings where a muslim or satanic prayer would be ill received, not just by you, but by the majority of Christians, then the christian prayer also has to be viewed in the same context.

          • rwlawoffice

            Why is a religious person’s expression of free speech dictated by his audience? I never see that in the atheist reactions to Christians- being concerned that they might be offended. A classic example is the praise atheist jerks get for mocking campus preachers. Whenever Hemant posts about that the jerks who are mocking, insulting and calling names are viewed as heroes. Yet here, when a Christian gives a speech expressing his own religious views and not attacking anyone, even if he did it to rise up against the attempt to silence him, he is viewed as a dick. It is the typical one sided tolerance Atheists want because they don’t like the message.

    • busterggi

      So just where did you get your degree in ‘Being a Dick’?

    • JET

      “Our way” being supporting one’s right to believe whatever they want, but not allowing them to demand that others conform to those beliefs. “Our way” being educating children by teaching them facts and critical thinking and the pursuit of knowledge, rather than centuries old mythology. “Our way” being morality based on human rights as opposed to enslavement to archaic ideas and customs. Yes, I am quite looking forward to doing things “our way.”

    • Amor DeCosmos

      These five paragraphs are so full of errors. Typical Christian, so blinded by his narrow world view, he has no ability to see anyone else’s.

      “but is this legal?” It may be legal, but it sure is disrespectful and intolerant to people who do not share the same supernatural beliefs that you do.

      “What if you have to live in a country where people are free to talk about Jesus anywhere – legally! ” – You already live in a country where people are free to discuss religion anywhere. The point is that one religion cannot be promoted over another by government. This is what is meant as separation of Church and State”

      “the atheist leaders” – wait, what? I have a leader? That can’t be. I
      proscribe to the Buddhist philosophy of, “If you meet the Buddha on the
      road, kill him.” If someone claimed to be the leader of the atheists, the atheists would be the first to pull him down from his high horse.

      “you never again have to listen to someone talk about ANY world-view that isn’t atheism” Atheism isn’t a world view any more than not believing in flying unicorns is a world view.

      Schools are for learning, churches are for praying. Why is this so hard for Christian fundamentalists to understand? I promise, I won’t think in you church if you don’t pray in my school.

    • Anna

      Wow, theosauros, I thought you were against having religion in government functions. Guess that’s not true after all, and you’re no different from any other fundamentalist.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Apart from the shredding you just received below: have you apologized yet for that post you masochistically chose to bring up, or are you still libeling people and pretending to be psychic?

      You know, lying and acting as a false prophet in Jesus’s name.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      What he basically did is say “fuck you” to everyone who doesn’t believe like he does. But you are right that he has a constitutional right to be a douchebag. Many are exercising that right these days.

      Would you feel the same way if he’d prayed to a different god? Or made an anti-religious speech? Or mocked religion and your god?

      • thesauros

        Yes I would feel the same. It would be nice if we were raising decent human beings who considered the feelings and beliefs of others. Instead it seems that more and more people are choosing to tell other people what they can and cannot do.

        • TCC

          At the risk of telling you what you should do, have you thought about applying that second sentence to, I don’t know, people who pray during graduation speeches?

          • thesauros

            I AM applying it to people who pray during graduation speeches. That’s what this post of Hemant’s is about.

            • TCC

              Okay, looks like I’ll have to be clearer: Is someone praying during a graduation speech really considering the feelings and beliefs of others, including non-Christians? Easy answer: No.

        • Miss_Beara

          “Instead it seems that more and more people are choosing to tell other people what they can and cannot do.”

          Like Christians? I seem to remember many Christian leaders and people in general against marriage equality and reproductive choice. So, is it Christians are allowed to tell people what they cannot do because of their “religious freedom” deny people their rights?

          “I think that you and the rest of the atheist leaders in the U.S. care more than anything about creating a country where you never again have to listen to someone talk about ANY world-view that isn’t atheism.”

          … wow.

          • thesauros

            Yes, exactly like Christians. And everyone else for that matter. It’s who we are. It’s what we do. We think that other people should be like us.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Actually, we don’t. I don’t think gay people should be straight like me. I don’t think trans* people should be cis. I don’t think asexual, pansexual, or any other of the many varieties of human sexuality should be anything but themselves. I think I, and everyone else, should be free to be themselves. That means if you want to be Christian, you can do that. I think you’re factually wrong, illogical, and treading dangerously close to immorality if you actually believe the thing, but I want you to have the freedom to be wrong. Just don’t try to take away my freedom to be wrong, or try to make me feel less-than for thinking differently than you.

              • thesauros

                Words.
                I hate words.
                I’m no good at using them.
                Okay, here is what I meant. “We think that other people should relate to and/or react to the world like we do.”
                That’s what I meant by, “be like us.”
                thesauros-store.blogspot.com

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  But here’s the thing. I really, truly don’t think that “other people should relate to and/or react to the world like [I] do.”. I think if everyone reacted to or related to the world the way I do, the world wouldn’t be nearly as colorful, weird, zany, and awesome. That doesn’t mean I like how everyone relates to it, or think that all reactions are healthy, but I don’t think mine is the best or only way either. All I ask is that my way of relating to the world is given as much respect and dignity as any other way of relating to the world. Public prayers in government buildings, at government events, by governmentally-sanctioned speakers (and yes, the valedictorian is a sanctioned speaker) exclude and disrespect my worldview and by extension, me.

                  As for words- they’re how we communicate. As much as using them sucks (telepathy would work so much better), it’s the only method we have for communicating our thoughts from one person to another. Using them precisely and carefully is simply our poor best.

  • BM

    Sigh…… Well done, brave asshat, well done.

  • busterggi

    How does one become a valedictorian when one has clearly failed basic US history and civics?

    • Thackerie

      Maybe because he’s the smartest in a class full of idjits?

    • allein

      Judging from his little writing sample up there, he didn’t do so well in English class, either.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Yes, this. How did he become Valedictorian with writing like this? Was it a class mostly comprised of marmosets with sunstroke?

        • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

          If so, I think the marmosets were to the right side of the Bell curve.

    • buckofama2010

      How so? The Constitution. You might want to actually read it sometime as well as writings by the authors rather than take liberal lies such as are in this article as facts. Prove by citing the Constitution that a citizen is prohibited from praying…..waiting….oh, I see, you don’t have a copy of the Constitution to refer to as is the case with liberals

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Right. That’s exactly why Muslim students can get out their mats in the middle of class, point towards Mecca, and start praying out loud, and the teacher has to wait for them. Nothing in the Constitution prevents it.

      • DavidMHart

        Rich Wilson has put down a point about Muslims, but I feel I should elaborate:
        Actually, as I understand it, if Muslim students are disrupting
        the class
        by praying when class is meant to be happening,
        then the teacher can prevent them. If however they are doing so on their
        own time, and not causing a nuisance to anyone else, then yes, the
        Constitution protects their right to do so.

        Freedom of religion only extends to the point at which the practising of your religion starts to violate other people’s rights.

    • Artor

      And English too, apparently.

  • DesertSun59

    “God” did absolutely nothing. A student openly spat on the US Constitution with that speech. He learned nothing, as apparently was the intent at that high school. In addition, this kid clearly and obviously has never once read the Bible. He knows absolutely nothing about what Jesus said about prayer. To f*cking wit, ‘valdictorian’:

    Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”

  • Seamus Ruah

    [cough]
    Matthew 6:5
    [cough]

  • Sven2547

    Is it legal? Probably.
    Should it be legal? Absolutely.
    Is it stupid, hypocritical, selfish grandstanding? Most certainly.

    • Edmond

      You’re right, it absolutely should be legal. We can only hope that someday some of these kids will say to themselves, “I really regret the stupid things I did when I was 18, I made some of those students feel like they weren’t part of my school, just because they weren’t part of my religion.”

      • Wombat319

        Perhaps, Edmond, if God were let back into our schools we wouldn’t have children beating up teachers, shooting each other and bullying. Perhaps teaching some RESPECT for people’s right to say a prayer–even if YOU don’t like it–falls under the libtard definition of TOLERANCE…which I have yet to see in ANY liberal!

        • Sven2547

          So many lies in one paragraph.

          • Wombat319

            Hey Sven? Fuck yourself. LOL

            • Bugsy42

              Definitely feeling the respect and tolerance…

              • RobMcCune

                Well he never said he believes in any of it, in fact he most likely believes in disrespect and intolerance.

        • Space Cadet

          Yup, when God was part of the curriculum there was no violence in the schools. Not one bit.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States#1900s

        • RobMcCune

          which I have yet to see in ANY liberal!

          Because you’re too busy seeing red.

        • Alex G

          Would you tolerate an Atheist speaker at a graduation speaking their beliefs? Because no matter what you answer with, I know you wouldn’t. Christians aren’t tolerant, they are judgemental of people they don’t agree with (as you have been on this whole thread) and extremely unaware of it (as I assume you are).

          • Wombat319

            First of all, yes I would. Reason being that I used to BE an atheist! I changed due to a horrible occurrance in my life that actually CONVINCED me there was a God. That said, I am not a church-going person; yet, have sat through services in church when I had to. I’ve sat at Thanksgiving tables when people prayed even though I didn’t believe. Likewise, I’ve seen other atheists leave the dinner table during the prayer…and didn’t judge them on that. It’s all about letting people BE who they ARE. Would you expect me to protest because perhaps a gay person is a speaker at commencement? I hate that lifestyle/love the people. So…why should I have to put up with a gay speaker…or an atheist, etc. under YOUR rules of the game? What’s coming down the pike now, children, is conservatives who aren’t going to put up with it any more. Your “god” Obama is going down…people who lie get found out sooner or later, and the scandals coming will prove it out.

            • DougI

              Give it up, you were never an Atheist. That’s just something fundies say in the hopes that it gives their proselytizing some merit. At most you were a lapsed Christian then decided to throw yourself back into a delusion with more severity.

            • Hat Stealer

              This guy is clearly a Poe or a troll. At least I hope so.

            • Matt D

              LOL.
              If “not putting up with it anymore” involves hiding behind internet pseudonyms and insulting others, you may keep that up as long as you wish.

        • PhiloKGB

          So God the all-powerful can’t get into a public school because teachers aren’t allowed to force kids to pray?

        • DavidMHart

          If the god of Christianity exists, he’s omnipresent, and therefore cannot have been taken out of schools, or any other part of the universe. If the god of Christianity doesn’t exist, he was never in the schools in the first place, and therefore cannot have been taken out of them.

          What you are objecting to is not that your god has been taken out of schools, but that your Christian privilege is being taken out of schools, because you live in a secular country where the constitution demands strict neutrality on religion from all branches of the government, and the courts are actually enforcing the constitution (some of the time) against branches of the government that try to illegally take sides in favour of one particular religion..

        • DougI

          So, since the state doesn’t force religion upon people your gods send people into schools to shoot children? And why would we hold such a vindictive, petty god in high regard?

          As for bullies, looks like we had one praising Jesus in a graduation ceremony.

        • phantomreader42

          Are you and your fellow death cultists all too stupid and lazy to figure out how to pray on your own damn time without being ordered to by an agent of the government? Is your faith really that weak and worthless?

        • Hat Stealer

          I dunno, we used to sacrifice our teachers back in elementary school in the name of the great Yog-Shoggoth, and people seemed really into it.

        • Matt D

          Perhaps if you realized other religions exist and can make the same claims, you’d be less ignorant about the feeling of others.

        • Edmond

          Let me start by saying how much I really DETEST the use of “tard” as a suffix to insult people. There are ACTUAL retarded people in this world who endure a worse living hell than you or I can imagine. They don’t exist just to provide you with a standard to demean others by. If you’re truly here to rant about “RESPECT”, then I suggest you SHOW some, and amend your use of that term.

          But if God wanted to be “let” into schools, then maybe he should never have allowed our Constitution to forbid government intrusion in the subject. I think you know perfectly well that STUDENTS may pray all they want. It’s the ADMINISTRATION that can’t LEAD the students in prayer. Would you like a teacher of a different religion FORCING your kids to pray to their god? I already said I support the legality of what this student did. I just think it’s remarkably disrespectful of the non-Christian students in the assembly. They didn’t come to listen to a prayer from a religion they don’t follow. That student may be valedictorian, but he wasn’t appointed to be a spiritual leader for anyone else. That’s a decision that each person must make in their own time.

          I would feel the same way if an atheist went up there and began preaching how great their non-belief is, and how everyone should follow suit. Or, if a gay person were telling everyone that being gay is better than being straight. Atheists don’t have prayers, so there’s no opportunity for them to hijack the entire assembly while they perform their favorite rituals. I think there’s nothing wrong with SOME mention of religion, if a student feels it’s helped them succeed, but stopping everything and making everyone listen to the rites and rituals of one particular religion is outlandish.

          Don’t the Christian students have plenty of time to pray BEFORE the assembly begins? Haven’t they had several HOURS to do so since climbing out of bed that morning? Why does it have to WAIT until the maximum number of people can hear it? Do Christians need to shout down any minorities, in order to feel righteous? Is grandstanding the only way Christians can express their religion?

          I have serious doubts that you were ever an atheist, judging by the way you talk about “libtards”, or suggesting that Obama is worshipped as a god. This betrays a poor understanding of the people you are vilifying. I’d be very curious about the circumstances that convinced you of the supernatural. Why is God handing out convincing evidence to YOU, but not to me? Isn’t faith supposed to be based on… well, JUST faith, and NOT on evidence?

          Once again, I SUPPORT this student’s legal right to say whatever the school permits, even prayer. But, I think it’s disrespectful and insensitive to make the speech ABOUT religion, and I think that people who call themselves “religious” should try to make themselves aware of it. This student succeeded at making the non-Christian students feel like outsiders, unwelcome to the mob mentality. They didn’t come to attend church, they came to attend a school event, with their fellow students. The speeches and speakers should strive to reflect this. They should NOT be drawing battle lines that say “We’re Christians, and we’re BETTER, because there are MORE of us”.

           

          Let me start by saying how much I really DETEST the use of “tard” as a suffix to insult people. There are ACTUAL retarded people in this world who endure a worse living hell than you or I can imagine. They don’t exist just to provide you with a standard to demean others by. If you’re truly here to rant about “RESPECT”, then I suggest you SHOW some, and amend your use of that term.

          But if God wanted to be “let” into schools, then maybe he should never have allowed our Constitution to forbid government intrusion in the subject. I think you know perfectly well that STUDENTS may pray all they want. It’s the ADMINISTRATION that can’t LEAD the students in prayer. Would you like a teacher of a different religion FORCING your kids to pray to their god? I already said I support the legality of what this student did. I just think it’s remarkably disrespectful of the non-Christian students in the assembly. They didn’t come to listen to a prayer from a religion they don’t follow. That student may be valedictorian, but he wasn’t appointed to be a spiritual leader for anyone else. That’s a decision that each person must make in their own time.

          I would feel the same way if an atheist went up there and began preaching how great their non-belief is, and how everyone should follow suit. Or, if a gay person were telling everyone that being gay is better than being straight. Atheists don’t have prayers, so there’s no opportunity for them to hijack the entire assembly while they perform their favorite rituals. I think there’s nothing wrong with SOME mention of religion, if a student feels it’s helped them succeed, but stopping everything and making everyone listen to the rites and rituals of one particular religion is outlandish.

          Don’t the Christian students have plenty of time to pray BEFORE the assembly begins? Haven’t they had several HOURS to do so since climbing out of bed that morning? Why does it have to WAIT until the maximum number of people can hear it? Do Christians need to shout down any minorities, in order to feel righteous? Is grandstanding the only way Christians can express their religion?

          I have serious doubts that you were ever an atheist, judging by the way you talk about “libtards”, or suggesting that Obama is worshipped as a god. This betrays a poor understanding of the people you are vilifying. I’d be very curious about the circumstances that convinced you of the supernatural. Why is God handing out convincing evidence to YOU, but not to me? Isn’t faith supposed to be based on… well, JUST faith, and NOT on evidence?

          Once again, I SUPPORT this student’s legal right to say whatever the school permits, even prayer. But, I think it’s disrespectful and insensitive to make the speech ABOUT religion, and I think that people who call themselves “religious” should try to make themselves aware of it. This student succeeded at making the non-Christian students feel like outsiders, unwelcome to the mob mentality. They didn’t come to attend church, they came to attend a school event, with their fellow students. The speeches and speakers should strive to reflect this. They should NOT be drawing battle lines that say “We’re Christians, and we’re BETTER, because there are MORE of us”.

          • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.henetz Elizabeth Henetz

            you are a decent christian this atheist thanks you for your tolerance

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          If only God were let back into schools so kids could learn about breaking up families with religious demands, killing disobedient children, raping the young daughters of their enemies, and executing those who fail to keep the Sabbat holy.

          But not how to avoid committing incest, rape, slavery, or child abuse, because God didn’t value those lessons enough to mention them.

          Your raging, Christlike hatred of “liberals” is noted, as is your inability to grasp that Constitutional matters are not inherently partisan,

  • Matthew Baker

    I forget that I lucked out in my education in that my classmates rarely if ever made mention of religion or if they did it was out of my earshot. We didn’t have any religious clubs. Out of a 100 students in my class I could tell you maybe 3 or 4 their denomination and my small town had something like 20 +/- different denominations/churches. I don’t remember any prayers creeping in where they didn’t belong. So to me hearing about ‘meet at the flagpole’ clubs, Good news clubs, 10 commandment shirts, and kids slipping prayers in to graduation speeches seems strangely foreign.

    • Thackerie

      Ah, the good old days. I remember (and miss) them, too.

    • Anna

      That’s my experience. I can’t even imagine the kinds of things that go on in the Bible Belt. My entire education was completely secular. There were never any prayers at school functions. I don’t even recall my classmates talking very much about religion. I knew that some came from Catholic/Jewish/Hindu/Mormon homes, but the details of their families’ observances were rarely discussed at school or on the playground. It was a very diverse area, and there was never a hint of favoritism for one religion over another, or for religion over irreligion.

      I suppose this is why I find it so mind-boggling that these schools keep having such an incredible intrusion of religion. I honestly think a lot depends on the majority population. It seems like majority evangelical areas have more of these problems than majority Catholic or majority Jewish ones. My area is predominantly Catholic, by a wide margin, and ordinary Catholics just aren’t known for making overt religious displays every second of every day. Most Catholics seem to keep their religion in church. I’ve never seen one of them start talking about Jesus out of the blue or start praying out loud for no reason.

      • Miss_Beara

        I attended Catholic schools for 12 years and we had the usual religion classes and we went to church and chapel on certain days and there was a modest prayer during graduation since it did take place in a church. I never said in class I doubted god just because I was incredibly shy at that time but I never felt that not believing in god is going to send me to hell. Other things will send you to hell though, but that is another story…

        When I hear what goes on in the bible belt, I am amazed. It is very “see how much I love the lord! we have to interrupt graduation, school, counsel meetings and any other place to PRRRAAAAYYYY and if you don’t let us we are persecuted, just like Jesus.”

        • Anna

          What’s funny is that Catholic schools might actually be less religious than all these Bible Belt public schools!

          My boyfriend attended Catholic elementary school and remembers all the classes except for Religion as being entirely secular. Sure, there were the rote prayers and mass attendance to contend with, but at least Jesus didn’t make an appearance in math or spelling.

          • Willy Occam

            That’s why hard-core evangelical Baptists don’t even consider Catholics to be Christian (as if… talk about ignorance of history!). As far as they’re concerned, you might as well be a Satanist if you belong to the RCC.

          • Miss_Beara

            Or science! I cannot imagine sitting through a science class and evolution comes up. “Evilution is a lie! Read your Bible!!!111!1!!”
            or
            “God guided evolution.”
            or
            “Satan planted the dinosaur bones.”

            • Anna

              And science! At least you can be sure your kids are getting proper science lessons in a Catholic school. If I had to choose between a fundamentalist-dominated public school and a Catholic school, I’d probably have to go with the Catholic one.

    • allein

      Same here. I couldn’t even tell you most of my friends’ religions, let alone the rest of my class (of about 300).

    • buckofama2010

      Who are YOU to decide where prayers “belong” Please provide us the Constitutional basis that denies one the ability to pray……

      • phantomreader42

        Are you and your fellow death cultists really all so stupid and lazy that you can’t figure out how to pray on your own without being ordered to by an agent of the government? Is your faith really THAT weak and worthless?

  • keynescoase

    Maybe security should have yanked him off the stage when he started?

  • meekinheritance

    It would be interesting what the response would be if the student had given the approved speech, but in Spanish instead.

  • TnkAgn

    Roy boy, if you are as arrogant about your “heroic” stunt as you seem to be about the Constitution, the future of the Republic may be in for trouble. A pitiable display.

    • buckofama2010

      Please share with us where the Constitution says a citizen cannot pray?….waiting…..

      • TnkAgn

        Nowhere does the Constitution say that a citizen cannot pray. Nowhere does the Constitution say anything about any god. Nowhere does the Constitution say that I, or anyone else (even if they live in the Palmetto/Nullification state of SC) have to put up with a sermon, revival, or “Lord’s Prayer” during a public school graduation. I suggest you research SCOTUS decisions regarding this, in particular, Lee v. Weisman (1999), over eleven years ago. Get back to us when you’ve done your homework. Here’s a primmer for you:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_v._Weisman

      • Bill Santagata

        The school has a legal obligation to ensure that its commencement exercises are secular ones. The school did everything correctly here: they requested to see the speech beforehand to make sure it comported with the Establishment Clause and their own policies regarding obscene, lewd, etc. speech. The student does not have the right to free speech in this type of forum. It is a school-sponsored forum: he is up on that stage by invitation of the school and therefore the Hazelwood standard is controlling in a free-speech analysis in this context.

        If the school cannot guarantee the secularity of its ceremony, it may have to do away with the practice of student speeches altogether, lest they risk being held civilly liable.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Please share with us where the Constitution mentions that right to privacy that you assume you have.

        Not waiting, because the wittle demand you encapsulated in those abused pseudo-ellipses is what children do when it’s that early in a discussion.

  • Bdole

    “God chose to show out and without his courage I don’t think I could have made it through His prayer from the overwhelming reaction the crowd gave bringing tears to my eyes.””
    Wha?
    Where is this school? This sounds like a google translation from Japanese of something that was initially written in colloquial Hungarian.

    • Artor

      This is the valedictorian from a school in South Carolina. Top of the class. Best & brightest. I weep for South Carolina.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      It’s just… God, you know, I just edited a novel for publication and I am really not sure if I could correct his writing enough for the reader to follow it. Maybe a visit to the Black Lodge would help…

  • ceejay

    It’s called freedom of speech, atheists. You want it. But you want to deny these students theres because you don’t like their religious speech. Read the constitution. Kids have rights too.

    • Bill Santagata

      I disagree that the student has the right to Freedom of Speech in this forum. The Hazelwood standard would control here. It’s a school-sponsored forum.

    • phantomreader42

      “Freedom of speech” does not mean “freedom to hijack a public function to force a captive audience to listen to your speech.” Whoever told you it did is a liar and a traitor, and you are an idiot for believing them.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      “Theres”?

  • Tak

    I would think that if he had been reciting verses from the Koran they would have cut the mic. That’s just what should happpen when a student rips up their pre-approved speech and starts using speech that would not otherwise be approved. If a student decides say something in public about their religious beliefs that’s fine but in this case he perverted a secular ceremony to inappropriately push his religion on others. When one is speaking as valedictorian one is representing the school and public schools are government institutions. IMHO they should have revoked his status as valedictorian for not having the sense to see that as an unofficial school representative his choice of actions were inappropriate, in bad taste, and while not illegal went against the spirit of the law.

  • Duke

    Riddle me this, if you truly practice the religion of atheism, why do you care what anyone else believes? Could it be you are scared of being wrong? By the way there is no separation clause in the first amendment, it is the establishment clause, you need a lesson in history

    • allein

      What exactly is the “religion of atheism” and how does one practice it?
      .
      To answer your questions, I don’t care what anyone else believes, I care what they do, and no, I’m not scared of being wrong.

      • buckofama2010

        The Supreme Court declared atheism to be a religion. How come you only follow decisions you like?

        • allein

          Atheism is only a religion in a very specific sense, as it applies to the First Amendment. In short, the freedom of religion includes the freedom to not have a religion.
          .
          “As we’ve seen, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals hasn’t declared atheism to be a religion as the layperson might usually define it, they simply acknowledged that atheism hold equal standing with religions with regard to the First Amendment. ”
          http://www.atheist-community.org/library/articles/read.php?id=742

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          That wasn’t the Supreme Court, it was the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. And it was a poorly worded decision, and nobody with any legal training actually thinks it means atheism is a religion. If it did, atheist organizations would get the same tax treatment as churches, and they don’t.

      • thesauros

        “What exactly is the “religion of atheism” and how does one practice it?”

        Organized atheism has:
        . Origin of the Universe Mythologies believed in by faith
        . Origin of life Mythologies believed in by faith
        . Growing number of Denominations
        . Infighting among Denominations
        . It’s own monument on Public Property
        . All other religions are considered wrong by virtue of not being
        atheism
        . The Atheist Ten Commandments
        . A goal of happiness and well-being
        . Abstaining from worldly desires for Lent
        . Sunday morning Church meetings of like believers
        . Summer camp for kids to learn the dogma of atheism
        . Omega Mission: 6 Week Indoctrination / Evangelism tool
        . Codified Moral Behaviours
        . TV shows where people call in to hear the “experts” explain
        atheism
        . Evangelizing in attempts to convert
        . Shunning of those who disagree
        . Faith required to maintain core belief
        . Donating money to advertise core beliefs
        . Atheist Leaders making appeals for donations

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          ok, I can’t be bothered to argue with the silliness of most of those, but

          Abstaining from worldly desires for Lent

          Do you know nothing? Ramadan is when we abstain from worldly desires. Sheesh. Do some fecking research will ya?

          • allein

            I never did Lent even when I did go to church.

        • allein

          A goal of happiness and well-being is a religious thing?

          • TnkAgn

            Happiness and well-being were never mentioned in my Sunday School, way back when.

            • Nilanka15

              My doctor advocates happiness and well-being. Medicine must be a religion.

        • TnkAgn

          1. Globally replace “faith” with “science” and/or “reason,” 2. Lose the Sunday AM stuff, LENT?
          3. And try to understand (this is my fool’s errand) that although various atheists have differences about the proper approach (non-accommodationists v. accommodationists) to religion and it’s adherents, there is very little conflict among atheists. Perhaps then, you might have it at least partly right.

        • RobMcCune

          Oh I get it, with enough vague misrepresentations anything can be called a religion. Try using a definition of the word that has actual meaning.

        • TCC

          No. Several of those are wrong (no “faith” is required to be an atheist; it’s the null hypothesis), and many are not exactly characteristics exclusive to religion (e.g. “A goal of happiness and well-being”). And notably, there is nothing about the supernatural there, which is kind of a defining trait of religions.

    • TCC

      That’s a great argument against evangelism. When are you going to take your message church-to-church?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Because the Free Exercise clause depends on the Establishment clause. If we don’t defend the latter, your former is useless. We’re doing you a favor, and you can’t even see it because you’re blinded by so many years of it only being your way.

    • RobMcCune

      Riddle me this, if you truly practice the religion of atheism, why do you care what anyone else believes?

      There is no religion of atheism, I can’t answer your nonsense question.

      By the way there is no separation clause in the first amendment, it is the establishment clause, you need a lesson in history

      So is prohibition of religion in government in the first amendment, there is only a prohibition of religion in government in the first amendment. You might want to think that one through.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1337979004 Randal Phillips

    Legal? What makes you think the government has a right to silence this man’s expression of his faith? You talk about separation of church and state. Does that only apply ONE way; the church is not allowed to influence the state? This student was not a representative of the government run school system. He wasn’t on the payroll. He was speaking as himself and for himself. If the (few) Nothingists, Black Rock Pagans or whatever don’t like it, the solution is simple. Next year, let one of them apply themselves, do the work, and ace the exams as this young man did and then THEY can be valedictorian and say whatever is on THEIR minds. Meanwhile, shut up and mind your manners.

    • Goape

      Ha. “Shut up and mind your manners.” Did you intend for this to be so funny?

      Also, what is a “Nothingist”? If you mean atheists do you really think that they aren’t ever valedictorians or that they never apply themselves?

    • DavidMHart

      “Nothingist”
      I think the word you are looking for is ‘nihilist’. A nihilist believes in nothing.
      A nihilist is very different from an atheist. An atheist typically believes in the material universe, including their fellow humans, and including the range of psychological experiences that humans can have. The only things you can be sure an atheist doesn’t believe in are gods. There is nothing nihilistic about believing in a non-supernatural universe populated by non-supernatural entities whose subjective experience matters to them and to each other.

    • Bill Santagata

      The school has a legal obligation to ensure that its commencement exercises are secular ones. The school did everything correctly here: they requested to see the speech beforehand to make sure it comported with the Establishment Clause and their own policies regarding obscene, lewd, etc. speech. The student does not have the right to free speech in this type of forum. It is a school-sponsored forum: he is up on that stage by invitation of the school and therefore the Hazelwood standard is controlling in a free-speech analysis in this context.

      If the school cannot guarantee the secularity of its ceremony, it may have to do away with the practice of student speeches altogether, lest they risk being held civilly liable.

  • t

    Sad excuse of a website.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Poor wittle angrums.

  • buckofama2010

    grow up you moron. It is 100% LEGAL for someone to pray whether in public or privately. If you don’t like it then don’t listen or don’t attend. I notice that idiots like you never complain about mooooslime prayers in public. Why? Because you are so anti-Christian and anti-God that you want to push satanism like islime? Or is it because you are a typical liberal COWARD and are afraid these peaceful loving mooooslimes will blow you up? I suspect BOTH

    • allein

      Wow, the trolls are out this evening.
      .
      First of all, a graduation ceremony is for all the students, and to tell any student they should just not go if there are going to be prayers they don’t want to hear is really shitty. It’s their day, too. Second, the general consensus here seems to be that the kid was within his rights, but it was rude and inconsiderate to do what he did because his real purpose was to give a big Fuck You to all the non-Christians in attendance. And third, if he was Muslim, we would feel the same way, but I’ll bet the Christians in this community wouldn’t have been cheering his “bravery” for praying at graduation.

      • buckofama2010

        I know, anyone who disagrees with you is a troll…typical liberal name calling when they cannot present a cogent argument. Come back when you grow up and can provide a factual and adult argument for your position

        • allein

          I’m not the one calling people “moron” and “COWARD” or denigrating other religions (mooooslime?). That’s why I said troll (I was also referring to the several other comments that popped up in the last little while just calling people names and not contributing anything to the conversation.) My comments have been perfectly civil; which one of us is being childish?

      • Earl G.

        I wonder if the trolls are Roy’s classmates. (You know, the ones who couldn’t even academically outshine Roy).

    • RobMcCune

      If you don’t like it then don’t listen or don’t attend. I notice that idiots like you never complain about mooooslime prayers in public.

      Point to where muslims are using official government function to pray. Idiot like you never seem to understand the government isn’t supposed to endorse yours, or anyone else’s religion. If you were more than barely literate you’d understand that.

    • Whirlwitch

      So you’re 100% okay with Muslims praying their 100% LEGAL prayers at every event you attend? If you don’t like it, you can just not listen or not attend. If you complain we’ll just call you a coward and a moron and tell you to grow up.

  • Ray

    Did anyone notice that this kid left out a large portion of the Christians? The Catholics do not say the last part of the Lord’s Prayer. They have been excluded by this speaker.

    • buckofama2010

      um, catholics are NOT Christians. Want proof? Compare their doctrine with the Bible and see how they changed the 10 Commandments, changed God’s Sabbath, worship dead people and statues. Not to mention the fact they are responsible for more torture and murder of people in the history of the world. Sorry, but it is a satanic cult and it is CLEAR in Revelation what they are and what they will become.

      • Artor

        If Catholics aren’t Xians, then neither are you. Please look up the “No True Scotsman” fallacy and try to understand it.

      • Sven2547

        I’m not normally one to stand up for Roman Catholics, but the claim that they’re not Christians is easily the most retarded argument I’ve seen in contemporary Protestantism. And that includes young-Earth creationism.

      • RobMcCune

        You do know all your protestant stuff is less than 500 years old right? In fact it’s probably less than 200 years old cooked up by some backwoods preacher.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Meanwhile your religion was made up by a man with a stated irrational hatred of Jews, Reason and logic, among other things, and was abused to commit the Holocaust. Do you REALLY want to start eating your own in the presence of vile, book-reading atheists?

  • Richard Copnnolly

    Thank you very much for saying the Lords Prayer, with the way muslims are acting , it seems people fear saying the lords prayer in public, it is people like yourself that will help others get back on track, Thanks again.

    • griffox

      Poe’s law.

  • Deal with it!

    Well,
    1) I am from South Carolina although a few hours away from where this took place (not that this makes a difference)
    2) The guy got to make a speech. (1st amendment gives you freedom of speech!)
    3) He wasn’t being selfish/greedy/brave. He was a guy saying what he believes. Anyone could have done it. (Maybe if one of the offended people had studied a little harder they could have made a speech saying what they believed)
    4) Before you commenters want to start throwing bible verses around, quit taking them out of context.
    5) There was nothing bad said in his speech, just a prayer
    6) If someone else would have made this speech saying other things that weren’t bad (like maybe a prayer to Allah), they would have the same argument to use that this guy had for making his speech.

    • allein

      The fact that he got to make a speech at this particular event has nothing to do with the First Amendment. Yes, he was selected as valedictorian to make a speech, which was required to be approved by the school ahead of time, then he proceeded to rip it up so he could say a prayer, and he showed in the process that he doesn’t give a shit about anyone in the class who might not share his religious beliefs. And for breaking the rules (by that I mean the school rules on having the speech approved beforehand, not the law) he got cheered for his brave stance of being a Christian in South Carolina. (Do you think they would have cheered if he had said a prayer to Allah?) If he said as part of his speech that he felt God helped him or whatever, if he simply said thank you to God, that’d be fine. But no, he threw out his entire speech just to say a prayer so he could stick it to the man. Legal or not, it’s just a dickish thing to do.

      • TnkAgn

        “Dickish.” That describes Roy’s behavior well, Thanks.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      1) Why are you numbering points when some of the items aren’t actually points?
      2) The First Amendment is not absolute. And freedom of speech usually does not apply when it conflicts with the OTHER parts of the amendment
      3) He wasn’t merely saying what he believes. He was inflicting a prayer on a captive audience at a government function, by surprise but with obvious premeditation, which means he knew he shouldn’t have done it.
      4) Before you complain about Biblical quotes being taken out of context, read enough to understand that we know the context. Dozens of commenters and readers here learned the Scriptures from an early age and know them better than you ever will. They are very specific about praying in private. The CONTEXT makes clear that it is not a metaphor.
      5) Forcing people to listen to a prayer from ambush at a government function is considered a bad thing. It’s childish, privileged and self-centered, and even for the student, a violation of the spirit of the Constitution. Is this hard?
      6) Irrelevant.

      You may wish to Google “begging the question”, by the way.

  • shandel SCHELLINGER

    As long as our country’s currency states “In God We Trust” and we cannot change the historical foundation of which this country was built upon…This remains a freedom to continue. The valedictorian knows about the separation…it is a freedom…not a requirement. He embraced his freedom and his right and his reflections on the country’s foundation. Let’s face it, this is a country that is founded on Christian principles with acceptance of all kinds to live and embrace in the grace the nation offers. Respect it as America did to your founding fathers who came here seeking it.

    • allein

      No, it’s not.

    • Goape

      Before the 1860′s E pluribus unum was printed on American currency. Do you know what that means? It’s a much more fitting motto for a nation founded by a group of intelligent rebels with diverse backgrounds who were fed up with the Church of England. I doubt the founding fathers would ever have condoned such a silly, dimwitted and unsuitable national motto as “In God We Trust”. It was only adopted because the USA was in a bit of an identity crisis in the 1860′s.

      Besides, things written on our currency shouldn’t be your go to guide for all things moral or historical. I’ve got a magic marker that can write on money you know—I could use it to send you money-messages (apparently you would believe them).

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      There’s not a single Christian principle in the United States Constitution. Everything in it is either neutral as regards the Bible, or in opposition to it. You might want to read it sometime, rather than the revisionist history your pastor is throwing at you.

  • Rain

    God chose to show out and without his courage I don’t think I could have made it through His prayer from the overwhelming reaction the crowd gave bringing tears to my eyes.

    Brave dude! Such bravery in the face of somethin somethin or something. I’m having trouble parsing his sentence there. No idea what the hell he’s saying.

  • JoeS

    I’m really annoyed by this article; for it’s dismissive, offensive tone, it’s poor logic, it’s lack of respect for inherent freedoms ingrained in America’s founding. The student is not an actor of the state; nor is the student body. They are free to worship in places public and private. They are free to share conviction, free to speak their mind, free to engage in public discourse on a variety of topics among them their Christian values. It would appear that you wish to treat that view point as different, intolerable, precisely because it is the majority viewpoint. It is considered limiting, perhaps ostracizing to those who disagree; and therefore unacceptable. But that is what an opinion does; offense is the consequence of freedom of thought. Had a Muslim student been valedictorian and shared his experience and ended with a prayer to Allah, he should be applauded. He brought forth a provocative personal message. That is what speeches ought to do. Shame on you for your one-minded view of tolerance. This new sensitivity paradigm is chilling speech and free thought across the country. Be bold.

    • allein

      This was a public school graduation ceremony, not a worship service.

      • JoeS

        Since when has sharing personal conviction been restricted to four walls?

        • TnkAgn

          Huh? Have you been paying attention?

          • phantomreader42

            Of course he hasn’t! Paying attention is against his religion!

    • Bill Santagata

      It probably didn’t violate the Establishment Clause as the school clearly did not have any involvement or prior knowledge that this would occur. It’s a matter of what is polite and appropriate. Public school graduations are attended by a diverse audience and the speeches given at them should appeal to this broad cross-section of society: when giving a speech you always have to keep your audience in mind.

      While you may be absolutely head over heels in love with your religion, many other people are not and do not appreciate being evangelized to at what is supposed to be a non-religious event. Our idea of tolerance is not “one-minded” because I would imagine that mostly everyone here would find a proselytizing speech about atheism to be equally insensitive.

      • JoeS

        You didn’t like his message discussing what defined his upbringing and likely the upbringing of many in attendance. I get it. These are values shared by many in that community though. An analogy could be drawn to speeches droning on about freedom, the founding fathers, and the prosperity that flows forth. Values many share, although some may not like the founding fathers, disagree that it has brought true prosperity, or maybe even dislike elements of the bill of rights perhaps. You may disagree with his religion, dislike it, even disdain it. But it is an intricate part of that student’s life, of many of those students’ lives… Totally appropriate at a graduation ceremony in SC. Totally appropriate for student lead prayers at a school board meeting. We are founded on values shared amongst a community with protections for everyone under the law; not mandated large collective national identities. To find this speech insensitive is to lack respect for his upbringing. To remorse about how the school can’t take action against the student for his speech is taking it to a level that I feel is threatening to his right to make that speech. Again a speech in a public school predominately jewish community with a Jewish valedictorian who shares how his jewish faith was powerful to his success should in no way be considered insensitive.

        • TnkAgn

          Then do it around the flag pole, or before, or after graduation. No one should be held prisoner to your religious zealotry.

          • JoeS

            I’d rather not have your atheist zealotry trample my freedom. Go kill free thought elsewhere. Leave the damn ceremony. I’d feel the same if a gay valedictorian from San Francisco stood up after prop 8 tore up a speech and discussed how opening up to his true identity in high School empowered him. Freedom is for everyone.

            • TnkAgn

              You are free to think any fool religious thing you want. You are simply not free to hold others prisoner at a public school graduation and shove your superstition down there throats. SCOTUS agrees, and IT tells us what the Constitution says.

              • JoeS

                You’re clearly not informed enough for me to waste my time but I will. I also think you have daddy issues or some other pathology but that’s besides the point… No one is shoving anything down anyone’s throat. No one is a prisoner; just free people, in this case a free speaker, sharing his cultural identity- a cultural identity you despise clearly (daddy issues) but that’s your problem not theirs- speaking to a majority christian audience upset about a top-down change to their community school board meeting. You need to chill out and appreciate his affirmation of free thought. I also think you may need to take a con-law class.

                • TnkAgn

                  Seriously. “Daddy issues” (why would you bring this up out of the blue, unless…)?

                  “Tyranny of the Majority” does not get it in this USA, and you wouldn’t know a “free thought” if you actually thought it.

                  Me, I’m not worried about my academic bona fides. You, however, need to research the SCOTUS, and the last 60 years worth of decisions on church/state issues. These decisions are NOT on your side. Have you even ventured into that realm? I think not.

                • JoeS

                  I find it odd for someone to be so repulsed by expressions of faith and love, if it’s not coupled with childhood memories of force fed religion. Issues? SCOTUS has not ruled on the nuances a case like this would bring. Though circuit court comes close. Adler v Duval is pretty good analogy for this case. Speech that’s not censored does not mean it’s endorsed.

                • TnkAgn

                  I express love all the time, ask anyone. I also express sadness and pity when I run into such unction as you put into your posts. And, for the record, I figure you to be the emotionally abused child of true God-fearing folk. My own upbringing was 90% secular.

                • JoeS

                  Hah! Unction in my posts? Have you been reading? Asserting that Christianity is a part of his personal identity, his conviction, defining of who he is, is merely stating fact. Asserting that the Lord’s prayer is a statement of faith and love is pretty widely accepted. No proselytizing here. I suppose I’m just a very tolerant person… including of your christian-phobic upbringing.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  I find it odd that you are so obsessed with being a pig, so you must have issue where you sob while masturbating with slices of raw ham. See how that works, Half-Semester Lad?

                • JoeS

                  Masturbating with slices of raw ham? Half-Semester lad?… No not quite.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  It isn’t shocking that you aren’t able to follow that I was pointing out that you’re just making up things so that you can dismiss people, and thus that you could only expect similar treatment.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Most times, students at graduation are prohibited from leaving. It’s to prevent disruption and chaos, but it also means that in this case, there was indeed a captive audience.

                • JoeS

                  Ok so then stay in the audience. I fail to see what was so offensive as to warrant uproar. He introduced the prayer discussing faith in the context of empowerment. And went on to say “when *I* say Our Father” indicating this is his personal conviction. He’s not asking the audience to join in prayer. He’s making a statement of individual identity. SCOTUS has only ruled on school’s offering platforms specifically geared for religious expression at graduation ceremonies. It makes no requirement for censoring the religious content out of one’s speech. I think this his expression was a reasonable expression of identity. Do you disagree? Are you intolerant of his faith? Are you intolerant of his professing the fact that this had a large impact on his personal and academic life?

                • TCC

                  If it had been a simple reference to the Lord’s Prayer, it wouldn’t have been a big deal at all. He recited the whole thing. That’s not just a “reasonable expression of identity”; that’s religious practice in the middle of a graduation speech. It might be legal, but that doesn’t make it ethical. It has nothing to do with tolerance of this one student’s faith and everything to do with tolerance of the other students’ religious beliefs.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I disagree while tolerating his faith.

                • TCC

                  “Daddy issues”? Grow the fuck up.

                • RobMcCune

                  And I thought your understanding of civics was bad.

                • JoeS

                  My understanding of civics is just fine thanks. Psychology? Enough to offend. Care to comment on something of substance?

                • TCC

                  There needs to be something of substance to comment on first. As it stands, there’s nothing but innuendo and meaningless catchphrases (e.g. “sharing his cultural identity” – no, sorry, saying the Lord’s Prayer is a little bit more specific than that).

                • JoeS

                  lol… ok… you’re really adding value… Adler v Duval wasn’t specific enough for you? How does this situation differ from a muslim affirming the importance of his faith to a majority muslim audience by reciting a passage from the koran?

                • TCC

                  Adler v. Duval is a circuit court decision, for one. As for your Islam analogy, it would depend on what passage was read. The Lord’s Prayer is a very specific passage used in religious worship on a regular basis; it is one that many (if not most) practicing Christians know by heart. That makes it different than if Costner had, say, quoted Philippians 4:13 or something.

                • Bill Santagata

                  The Adler decision also does not purport to conflict with the Supreme Court decision in Sante Fe Ind. School District v. Doe. The Adler decision upheld a school policy whereby students elected a student speaker at graduation…the Adler decision notes that this policy cannot be used to conflict with the Establishment Clause.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  And with that and the previous comment, you are now just trolling. Enjoy the results of acting like a baby.

                  Badly trolling at that. Half a semester of Psychology and all you can come up with is “you have daddy issues”? Sad little Dunning-Kruger victim.

                • JoeS

                  Baby trolling… yes indeed. Stupid face. In full disclosure I’m an engineer, have never taken a psychology course. I really tried hard there- half semester would have done me good. Please enlighten me with your wisdom of all things not relevant to the discussion at hand.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Awww, poor angrums is getting defensive.

                  Huh, another tangent to the Salem Hypothesis and its intersection with D-K. I could write a paper at this rate.

                • JoeS

                  Haha salem Hypothesis… I’d be careful if I were you; we’re indeed a crazy bunch… apple akbar! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/magazine/12FOB-IdeaLab-t.html?_r=0

            • Bill Santagata

              Joe: Is your definition of freedom conditional on where you live? Must the gay valedictorian live in San Francisco to be able to talk about being gay? Could not a gay valedictorian in South Carolina do the same? Or a Jewish valedictorian lead a Jewish prayer in South Carolina?

              I have no problem with a valedictorian referencing his faith/struggles with being gay/being an atheist/etc. as an aspect of himself that got him to where he is today. But ostentatiously leading the audience in the Lord’s Prayer is inappropriate and unsettling.

            • phantomreader42

              Joe, are you and your fellow death cultists all too STUPID and LAZY to figure out how to pray on your own without being ORDERED to by an agent of the government? Is your precious faith really that PITIFULLY WEAK AND WORTHLESS?

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              “Affirming one’s identity” is not the same as forcing prayer upon people. Does Jesus love that you lie?

              For that matter, does he love you faking persecution right there?

              Your obsession with “San Francisco gays” really tells us all we need to know. You don’t want equal time; you just want to claim you do so as to “win”.

              • JoeS

                Firstly I’m not religious so I really don’t care, and didn’t lie.

                Secondly there’s no faking persecution, but there is standing up for the student’s right to include expressions of faith, identity, and principled protest in a speech…

                As to this hilariously ironic notion of “forcing prayer”… what is prayer? Isn’t it really just a personal expression/ thought/ belief? How was it forced? He clearly preceded it with discussion of how grateful he was for his religious upbringing, and said “when I say Our Father” not “when we say Our Father”… not that I’d care much either way.

                Finally the idea of “San Fransico gays” (your phrase not mine) is to complete the analogy of a Christian talking to majority Christians- someone gay talking to a majority gay friendly audience. It’s astounding how hate and personal bias can really close one’s mind.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Nobody would care if he brought up religion. HE FORCED A PRAYER UPON PEOPLE. Why are you lying and libeling people for Jesus?

      • TnkAgn

        No prior knowledge? I wouldn’t bet on it, given the school and it’s prior history with church/state issues.

    • C Peterson

      No, they are not free in that venue to say whatever they want. They were given guidelines which they agreed to. This kid broke his promise to the school, and he clearly did so with malice towards some in his community.

      • JoeS

        I for one am opposed to the idea that his religious beliefs should have been censored by the school in the first place. There’s no legal need for it. Therefore I see his “broken promise” as a protest in affirmation of free speech and identity, not done out of malice. It’s equivalent to a gay valedictorian in San Francisco tossing the approved speech that had references to sexual identity scrubbed from his speech in fear of insulting the few christians and muslims in the crowd.

        • allein

          The rules he agreed to were that the speech had to be approved beforehand. Presumably, his speech did not include reciting the Lord’s Prayer. He agreed to give the approved speech, he threw it out at the last second, and recited the Lord’s Prayer instead. The school wasn’t “censoring” his religious beliefs because they weren’t in the speech they approved.

          • JoeS

            There’s a reason there’s an approved speech, and a reason he tossed out the “approved speech”. I think the censorship factor is very clear.

            • allein

              So his religion makes him special and the rules don’t apply to him. Got it.

              Unless he included it in his speech and they told him to take it out (which is apparently not the case), they did not censor him.

              • JoeS

                No. The guidelines were likely overzealous. He knew the guidelines when submitting the speech. It is still censorship regardless of whether they physically struck the words out or not. And as I said, it’s not religion that I’m standing up for; it’s the right of any person to speak about their identity. He should be treated as fairly as a gay, muslim, or atheist student would speaking about their conviction, who they are, and what empowers them to succeed.

                • Bill Santagata

                  I don’t disagree with you: we’re just saying that leading the audience in prayer oversteps that. Leading a prayer is no longer talking about yourself, it’s engaging with the audience in a religious activity. As such, it’s incredibly alienating to those in the audience who are *not* Christian and is subject to severe regulation under the Establishment Clause.

        • C Peterson

          It doesn’t matter if you think that controlling the content of student speeches is wrong. Those were the rules, and the student agreed to them and then deliberately broke his word.

          And I’d complain just as much about your hypothetical gay valedictorian under the same circumstances.

          It is hard to imagine something more dishonorable than a student, selected on merit to give a speech to his graduating class, violating the trust placed in him by his community.

          BTW, I doubt very much that any reasonable expression of personal thanks to a god would be censored. Students do that all the time at graduation ceremonies. That’s a very different thing than reading out a long bible passage. Indeed, since that was virtually the entire content of his speech, it comes across a lot like plagiarism. This valedictorian couldn’t even be bothered to do his own work.

  • J Fearing

    Public school in the US was created for the specified purpose of educating people so they could read the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now people like the folks on this website want a high school kid to get sued because he had the nerve to speak a passage from the Bible. It’s history, it’s heritage and get over it. I know many Jews and many Muslims and they never get upset when I speak of my God with them. We talk, we ask questions. It’s only the 1.5% of angry Atheists that ever get a bee up their …

    • allein

      Who said anything about suing this kid?

    • Bill Santagata

      [citation needed]

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Muslims and they never get upset when I speak of my God with them. We talk, we ask questions.

      Do you insist that they join you in your prayer?

    • TCC

      Lie about public education? Check.
      Mention of “Christian heritage”? Check.
      Reference to “angry atheists”? Check.

      Come on, I only have a few spaces left on my bingo card. If you cite David Barton and talk about how the Founding Fathers put “In God We Trust” in the Pledge for a reason, I’ll win.

    • TnkAgn

      Dude, you are one deluded fool. For Jebus, though, so it’s okay.

    • Miss_Beara

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      HAHAHAHA

      hahaha

      ha.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Nothing more to be said, really. Xe’s uneducated to the point of not knowing basic history, civics, or sociology.

        Hmm. That isn’t funny when I think about it too much. Dammit. Oops, I mean “……” because Jesus wrote that ellipses don’t count.

  • gungrl

    Very proud of this young man!

    • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

      What, proud of him for his breaking of an agreement, his grandstanding and his disrespect of non-believers? This is obviously some strange new definition of the word ‘pride’ that I wasn’t previously aware of.

      • TCC

        No, it’s the same definition, just a really demented sense of what is honorable.

    • C Peterson

      You mean that dishonorable, immature kid? Who couldn’t keep a promise to his community? Who apparently lacked the skill to write a speech, and stole one, verbatim, from an old book? Who felt that graduation was a good time to insult some of his fellow students?

      I guess that’s what passes for a model citizen in South Carolina.

    • Miss_Beara

      Yeah. He was really heroic in that he lied to people and then prayed during a graduation in a predominantly Christian town in a country that is majority Christian… yeah, so proud.

  • TnkAgn

    Trolls and Trolletts for Jebus, listen up, read some of the “Landmark Decisions” of the Supreme Court. In this particular case, Lee v. Weisman (1999): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_v._Weisman

    Get back to us later…much later.

  • Tom Farrell

    I graduated high school over 20 years ago. However, I remember quite clearly that part of the instructions for kids speaking at the ceremony was that we were to stick exactly to our school approved script, and that if we diverged from the script in any way the microphone would be turned off, we would be immediately ejected from the school grounds along with our family, and we would not receive our diploma that night, it would be mailed to us a week later.

    So, there darned well is something the school could have done about it.

  • Wombat319

    You liberal Obots are soon going to learn that WE are NOT going to be politically correct any longer. Don’t like the prayer? Tough. Live with it. We’ve had to live with your collectivist PC crap all these years and now WE ARE DONE!

    • Whirlwitch

      I take it the fascism you’re promoting with that comment is exactly as flag-draped and cross-clutching as was predicted.

    • Bugsy42

      I don’t understand the constant referenes to the President. Every comment of yours I’ve come across has some negative comment about him. Where is he mentioned in this article, or any of the comments (besides yours) for that matter?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      So you’re done with only being raging, faux-persecuted, privileged, dimwitted bigots and are moving up to being raging, faux-persecuted, privileged, dimwitted bigots who capitalize randomly and shit yourselves on the hour grinding your teeth over Obama?

      Yawn, it’s been done. You’re late to the party.

      • Bugsy42

        “… shit yourselves on the hour grinding your teeth over Obama”

        Thank you! That made my night. I might have to remember that for the next time I get a forwarded e-mail about how Obama is a nazi/ communist/ muslim/ fascist/ antichrist/ flying purple people eater.

  • allein

    Your caps lock is stuck.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
  • kanenas101

    Yawn. How about you people let students say what they wish to say and if you don’t like it then YOU choose to abstain from the event.

    Besides, if you think Christianity is all BS anyway then why do you care about someone who say a prayer or gives thanks to something you don’t even believe is real to begin with?

    As you noticed, no one got struck by lightening after the prayer was said, so what is there to worry about? Or are you people just a bunch of bullies who don’t believe that other people have a right to free speech in a public setting.

    • Sven2547

      Yup. Abstain from your kid’s high school graduation. Because that’s completely reasonable. If you’re not Christian then fuck off!

      “And they’ll know we are Christians by our…?”

      • kanenas101

        Actually that is exactly what a Christian would do if he was asked to participate in an event that he thought was sacrilegious. Judge them by their fruit after all.

        So again, is what, one minute of hearing something you don’t believe in really going to wreck the rest of your life?

        And you say Christians are the irrational ones.

        • Sven2547

          Who said anything about “wrecking the rest of your life”? You really just make stuff up with impunity, don’t you?

          As the story goes, Jesus made it abundantly clear, in the verses immediately preceding the Lord’s Prayer that it’s hypocritical to make a big public show of prayer. To say nothing of what a ‘fuck you’ it is to the non-Christians there.

          But you’re too simple-minded to even notice or care or comprehend that anyone isn’t your religion.

          • JoeS

            I think these generally disdainful comments are exactly what warranted a speech like this from the kid. You seem to have no respect for his religion. Zero tolerance for it. That’s all anyone really wants. Respect my beliefs. It makes less of a need for a public show of it.

            • Sven2547

              What do you mean by “respect your beliefs”?
              Preferential treatment in schools? You already get that.
              Preferential treatment in political office? You already get that.
              Preferential treatment in the media? You already get that.

              Christianity already has more “respect” than every other belief put together in this country, but that’s not enough for you. If Christians don’t get preferential treatment, it’s somehow an outrage!

              • JoeS

                I’m not asking for preferential treatment. I’m asking on behalf of this kid/Christians that you personally give him the same respect you would give any other person talking about identity and what empowers him- be it someone Jewish, Mexican, gay, atheist… Disagree with it? Nod smile and move on. Enough of this us vs. them mentality. Enough with this overblown uproar about a speech that simply affirmed who he is and what he stands for: free speech and his personal right to pray. Why are you outraged?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  If he talked about how Jesus made him feel special, that’s one thing. He led people in prayer, in the Lord’s Prayer. He tried to make the audience pray with him to his god. How is that possibly acceptable or inclusive? He gets no respect from me; as little respect, in fact, as an atheist at a public school graduation telling the audience that gods don’t exist and asking them to join hir in a rousing affirmation of non-belief. That person is clearly just trying to make people uncomfortable. Well, so was Roy.

                • Sven2547

                  This isn’t about “talking about identity”. This is about the ongoing insistence of many Christians to use government-funded forums as megaphones for the advancement of Christianity while not extending the same courtesy elsewhere. Your continued failure to grasp that concept is staggering.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Forcing a prayer upon everyone, and doing it by surprise so that they can’t react, is not “affirming his identity”. Are you stupid, or lying? Either way, Jesus will forgive, right?

                  We were discussing it amongst ourselves. YOU came over to lie and blather after searching online for something to be outraged over. You’re projecting, angrums.

            • Whirlwitch

              Satanism is pretty darned unrespected these days. Obviously the answer is to have as much public display of it as possible until it is respected.

              Or, alternatively, we could all respect Satanism as much as you feel is optimal for Christianity, and then we would need only to have as much public display as you feel there would be of Christianity in an optimal situation.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              So you advocate violating the Constitution and forcing people to listen to preaching because someone somewhere online uses mean words to criticize people who do that sort of thing. Very Christlike there, Joe.

              Oh, and you lied about the “tolerance” thing. It;s just a buzzword that you don’t actually grasp, but you think that invoking it is magic. Talking by rote isn’t going to work. Go learn what words mean in context.

              • JoeS

                His speech is not violating the Constitution. Show me the court case. If it ever is considered violating the Constitution in the future I think we’d need to add another amendment… I lied about the tolerance thing? (n) sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own. I’d say you all could use a hefty dose of toleration. The fact you see a kid saying a personal Christian prayer, a protesting affirmation of identity, as being offensively forced down your throat seems to suggest intolerance, nothing rote about my comments.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Okay, let’s try that again, but this time I’ll add one teeny bit that you should have been competent enough to infer, but quite probably chose not to because inferring it would prevent you from parsing sentences until you got what you wanted: a reason to dodge the point. I’ll also add in a little something else I forgot. Here goes:

                  “So you advocate violating the spirit of the Constitution, disrespecting and lying to your school and fellow students, and forcing people to listen
                  to preaching because someone somewhere online uses mean words to
                  criticize people who do that sort of thing. Very Christlike there, Joe.”

                  Feel free to tackle weaseling your way out again.

                • JoeS

                  You are really stretching here. “Forcing people to listen to preaching”– If it’s the fact that people were “forced” to listen to anything at all that you have a problem with then blame the school. If you have a problem with being forced to listen to “preaching”/protest/opinion/stories then blame the nature of giving a speech. It’s really sad that people would rather censor speech than be mature enough adults to listen to a statement and disagree with it. There was no bigoted rant, no call to violence. At the end of the day it was a student making a speech. I’m concerned that there’s significant overreach in a lot of thinking here that takes a step to say that this type of speech is or should be illegal because it has some special religious status. I see censorship as contradictory to the spirit of the Constitution– censorship including censoring religious speech. This student felt his identity was disrespected in light of recent events, so he used his platform to say a prayer in protest. I say preach on.

          • kanenas101

            You’re the one making a big deal about this. As a Christian, I am routinely told that I am going to every other religion’s version of the bad place. I’ve even been told this in a public forum, and at work.

            Maybe if I never got out of childhood, such things would bother me, but they don’t, because I am a rational human being who accepts that people have differing religious views and I couldn’t care less if they express them.

            And if you bother to read your Bible, Jesus did not condemn public prayer in and of itself, as He himself personally engaged in it. He simply illustrated that one of the traits of the hypocrites was that they engaged in loud, public prayers because they wanted to show other people that they were supposedly being righteous instead of showing that they truly were honoring God.

            • allein

              He simply illustrated that one of the traits of the hypocrites was that they engaged in loud, public prayers because they wanted to show other people that they were supposedly being righteous instead of showing that they truly were honoring God.

              Which is exactly what this kid was doing.

              • kanenas101

                Wow you people must have some sort of remote mind-reading capabilities to be able to reach such a conclusion.

                I must say I am impressed.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  You shouldn’t be impressed that other people can work out things based on previous experiences. You should be appalled that your goldfish brain can’t do the same.

            • Sven2547

              He simply illustrated that one of the traits of the hypocrites was that they engaged in loud, public prayers because they wanted to show other people that they were supposedly being righteous instead of showing that they truly were honoring God.

              Which incidentally, is what this student was doing. Making a dramatic show of tearing up a speech and then praying out loud to an audience. This was selfish grandstanding and you’re defending it.

              • kanenas101

                How do you know? Can you read this kid’s mind? Do you know what is in his heart?

                I thought such mythic claims without any proof could not stand on their own as valid statements.

                • allein

                  If his purpose wasn’t to make a show of his religion, why didn’t he stick to the speech that he had already written, submitted to the school, and had approved, as per the rules the school set out for student speakers at this event?

                • kanenas101

                  But again, that is just your opinion. You have no way to prove objectively one way or another why this person did or did not do what he did.

                • allein

                  Prove? No, but his actions tell me that he feels the rules don’t apply to him because his religion makes him special.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  The fact that the student wrote one speech, had it approved, then made a show of tearing it up is objective evidence to the thesis that the student intended to break the rule. Not that there is or should be any kind of court case, but that’s exactly the kind of evidence that courts evaluate all the time. Whether or not you think it’s proof doesn’t detract from the fact that it is indeed objective evidence.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Since no one has any way to prove objectively otherwise, you now mastrubate with raw slices of ham while sobbing because of your raging insecurity over your sexual attraction to Next Gingrich.

                  Hey, like you said, it’s just an opinion.

                  Or you could stop lying and being too dimwitted to grasp that no one is falling for it, and accept that your arguments are all founded in your being a raging hypocrite who plays word games to “win” because he secretly doesn’t actually believe in Jesus and has to shore himself up.

                • Sven2547

                  How do I know it was dramatic? How do I know it was for an audience? Because I watched the video, you putz.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Jesus was known for going to pray by himself. Oh, and part about the closet CANNOT be a metaphor. Please try again.

              Does Jesus love that you go online looking for things to be outraged over so that you can lie on his behalf and libel people like an angry little man-child that can’t complete an argument? Please, do tell.

        • phantomreader42

          kananas101, isn’t that imaginary god of yours supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?
          You and your fellow death cultists have shown us the fruit of christianity. It is all rotten, it stinks and attracts disease-ridden flies.

      • JoeS

        Why would you abstain from the ceremony? There’s a thing called tolerance you know… try it sometime.

        • Sven2547

          Why would you abstain from the ceremony?

          That is literally what kanenas101 is telling non-Christians to do.

          • kanenas101

            You should abstain from the ceremony if you feel like you would be so offended by hearing a one minute passage of text that you claim means absolutely nothing. That’s a sign of mental illness.

            Now for the rest of the sane, rational people, including many atheists, and other non-Christians in attendance, they can sit through hearing it, not be bothered, enjoy the rest of the ceremony, and go on with their lives.

            • Sven2547
              • kanenas101

                So? It is another person’s opinion.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Does Jesus love it when you libel people and misrepresent arguments on his behalf? Please, hypocrite, do tell.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          There’s a thing called “not making shit up.” You should try it sometime.

    • C Peterson

      Because this student, this foul excuse for a human being, has no honor. He agreed to certain terms in exchange for the right to speak, and he reneged on those terms. He should not receive his diploma until he publicly apologizes. And no reputable college should accept him, given his obviously poor character.

      This was not a public setting, but a government sponsored event. That can mean that certain restrictions on speech may be imposed… as they were in this case.

      • kanenas101

        Wow so judgmental simply because he didn’t say something you agree with. Should we throw him into a den of lions too, or maybe a burning furnace? That’ll learn him!

        Sane, rational people are getting tired of people who constantly whine about “being offended” by public displays of religion. And aren’t you people telling us that we as Christians have no right to be offended?

        Well guess what, neither do you.

        • C Peterson

          No, so judgmental because I have no respect for people who make promises and then deliberately break them, with clear intent to insult those they disagree with.

          The kid is scum- not because he’s Christian (that just means he’s stupid, uneducated, or unreflective) but because he’s a liar.

          I would be the last to suggest he be thrown to the lions, but if he fell into a lion pit at the zoo, I’d also be the last to view that as a loss.

          • kanenas101

            What is it with you people in glorifying the idea of people with whom you disagree meeting a violent end? That sounds delusional.

            Militant atheists routinely make fun of Christians and their beliefs (though not other religions, strangely). If we protest, you tell us we have no right to not be offended (and to be fair, I do agree with this).

            But if we have no right to not be offended, then neither do you. What is wrong with simply asking you people to live by the same rules you want us to live by?

            • C Peterson

              We don’t suggest any rules for you to live by, except the law. This has nothing to do with offense. That’s what you Christian supremacists apparently lack the wits to grasp.

              And I don’t glorify any violent deaths. I simply recognize the reality that society benefits when some people are culled. I trust no human to decide who that should be, and believe nobody has the right to perform that culling. But I can recognize the value when it happens naturally.

            • TCC

              You’ll have to forgive me a moment; I have to recover from having been beaten over the head with the Hammer of Generalization.

              The issue here is not offense; it is purposeful exclusion. Graduations are a shared experience – all of the students who are graduating have met the same requirements and have the same basic achievement. Prayers at a graduation speech, especially in a context like this where they are absolutely a sign of in-group/out-group dynamics, hinder the celebration of all students, and it is frankly a dick move.

              The context is key, and I would equally criticize a student who stood up during a graduation speech and castigating religious believers. Outside this kind of limited context, I wouldn’t really care. I hear Christians making fun of atheists as well, and I’m not concerned with taking action against them or even speaking out against them.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              You’re the one screeching about your creepy sexual fetish for violent persecution. He merely said he didn’t care.

              And then you accused him of wanting people to die violently. Does Jesus love that you’re a spiteful liar, honeybunny? C’mon, does he?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Weird how it usually turns out that people who have to call themselves positive things always turn out to not be those, M. “Rational”-But-Can’t-Tell-The-Difference-Between-Offending-People-And-Violating-The-Constitution.

    • TnkAgn

      Like all of our rights, the 1st Amendment has restrictions and limitations. Roy, and I think his school, violated and abused that right. The US Supremes agree with me, as the decisions of the last 60 years show.

      • kanenas101

        That’s just your opinion.

        • Bugsy42

          And the opinion of the U.S. Supremes

          • kanenas101

            Nope, just yours. There might be court opinions that are related to it, but unless a lawsuit is filed and a decision reached, it is still just your opinion.

            After all, if there’s no court decision related to this event, how can we draw any conclusions from it, right? No evidence, no proof, no conclusion!

            • Sven2547

              No evidence, no proof, no conclusion!

              That’s really, really funny coming from a Christian-supremacist.

              • kanenas101

                Hey I am just following your rules.

                Again, until you bring a lawsuit and get a court ruling on this instance any legal opinions on it are just your personal opinions.

                Now instead of making up mythical claims about what the courts might say about this, why not actually go through the motions, sue the school and the student, and find out?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Hey I am just following your rules.

                  Sigh. I wish people would at least make an effort to understand what it is they’re attempting to criticize.

                  Being intentionally obtuse is just being a troll. Nothing else.

                • TnkAgn

                  Yes, he is. Note how conversation with trolls of their persuasion are always particularly exasperating. Comes with the territory, I suppose. At some point you just gotta shake your head and move on.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  no, you’re stupidly and/or dishonestly misrepresenting it, and would be offending Jesus in doing so, were he to exist.

            • TnkAgn

              I’ll give you this citation one more time. It was 11 years ago, so it shouldn’t be news even to you:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_v._Weisman

              Now, you need to read it and then, and only then, get back to us. Understood?

              • kanenas101

                And how do I know that should you file suit against this school or student that the courts might disagree with precedent? It has happened.

                Now again, unless you have some mythical power of legal precognition, you can’t speculate as to what the courts might rule in this case until you actually, you know, have a case.

                Now go file a lawsuit, and then when the courts rule on it, you can get back to me.

                • TnkAgn

                  The US Supreme Court IS the final arbiter of this issue. They ruled against even so-called student-led prayer at public school graduations back in 1999. Roy and his school are in violation of the 1st Amendment’s “Establishment Clause.” Please study the case I cited and then tell me where there is a difference. Until then, we’re done here.

                • Bill Santagata

                  Lawsuits are not reviewed independently of past judicial precedent. It is possible to form an educated prediction as to the outcome of a given lawsuit given the past precedent. Sometimes the past precedent is murky or there are key factual differences between the current case and the prior precedent, making the result more of a toss-up. Here, I think the result of a lawsuit can be safely assumed:

                  1. Establishment Clause: The school did not violate the Establishment Clause as they reviewed the student’s speech for possible conflicts and the speech given to them had no prayer in it. The school had no reason to believe that the student would deliver a prayer.

                  However, the school does have a constitutional obligation to ensure that its graduations are secular events. Once this sort of thing starts forming a pattern, there comes a point where school can no longer throw up its arms and say “Oh but we had no idea THAT would happen…again!”

                  2. Free Speech Clause: A student speaker at a graduation ceremony is operating in a government-sponsored forum and thus the government speech doctrine, rather than forum analysis, controls, particularly under the guidelines of Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. The school has a broad right to censor a graduation speaker’s speech, and is constitutionally obligated to do so to avoid running afoul of the Establishment Clause.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Jesus, you’re dishonest even for a vocal Christian.

        • TnkAgn

          It is also the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court. Next time you go to the movies, stand up in the middle of the show and scream “FIRE!!” and see what happens. Or slander or libel someone. Or start your own parade-for Jesus in the street during rush hour with no permit. Come on, “free speech” dude, go for it. That goes for all of our rights, from the 1st Amendment through the 14th. There are limits.

          • kanenas101

            What kind of person would feel a sense of panic if they heard the Lord’s Prayer? That’s pretty pitiful.

            • TnkAgn

              Stay with the issue, if you can. I think we’re losing you.

              • kanenas101

                You’re the one talking about freaking out in a public venue when someone says something disagreeable to you.

                If that’s the reaction you have when you hear the Lord’s Prayer, then you need help. A rational non-believer would simply shrug off a series of silly words with no meaning behind them.

                • TnkAgn

                  Wrong. I cannot suss whether you are merely ignorant, or smarmy, dissembling, intentionally obtuse and ignorant. I fear the latter. Night.

                • phantomreader42

                  The obvious answer is “both”.

            • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

              What kind of person would feel panic, Kanenas101? I can think of a few:

              - Someone who was indoctrinated with the Hell myth by parents or a Sunday school teacher, and repeatedly told that he was “filthy rags” and bound for eternal torment unless he said the Sinner’s Prayer.

              - A survivor of domestic violence, whose parent or significant other preached incessantly or used the Bible as justification for corporal punishment or other abuses.

              - A member of an ethnic community that had been marginalized or forced into a ghetto situation (example from the not-too-distant past: Church-run residential schools in which religious observances were mandatory and practice of one’s own culture and language was forbidden).

              Panic attacks are real, and I can assure you that they’re rather unpleasant. When your heart is pounding in your chest, you can’t take a breath and you want to run for your life, “Suck it up, Sunshine” is simply not an option.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              What kind of Christian is judgmental and dismissive of others’ health problems and abuse?

              That would be you.

    • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

      A valedictorian is supposed to represent his or her school. Roy Costner failed to represent all of his classmates. He is unfit to lead.

      And I think prospective employers should take note that Roy Costner is also high-risk for insubordination, as he reneged on his agreement with the school by tearing up his speech. He is unfit to follow.

      • Retired Chief Petty Officer

        A valedictorian is supposed to say farewell to the school,and the student body. The word comes from the Latin vale dictum and its original meaning, a concept liberals despise, is to say goodbye. The person who wins that opportunity is traditionally the student with the highest grade average over the four year period of school. His or her opinion of the driving force that got him or her to that position is valuable and should be able to be expressed without school officials editing its content.

        • TheG

          How disingenuous! You know perfectly well if he submitted a perfectly vanilla speech and then decided to talk about how he did it with no help from the Christian god, any churches, or the damn “Family Values” groups, you would be ordering his head.

        • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

          A valedictorian is saying farewell on behalf of his or her fellow students.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Your irrational, raging hate of “liberals” that causes you to attack them in nonsensical manners is noted.

          Liberals hate saying goodbye in your conspiracy-laden world? Or is it that they hate Latin in Absurdia?

    • Whirlwitch

      So, let us assume that the valedictorian of your high school graduation is a Satanist. He will offer prayers to Satan as part of his valedictory speech.

      May I assume you will accept his right to say whatever he wishes to say without complaint, defend his right to free speech, and respond to any critics with “yawn”?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Poor, poor privileged angrums, too self-centered to grasp that freedom of speech also means freedom to criticize others’ speech. Poor angrums.

  • nate

    I don’t understand equating public prayer with profanity or criticism of the President. 2 out of 3 of those items are protected free speech…

  • Alex G

    The best point made: If he had gone up and said something about being an atheist, he would have been punished. If he would have read something from the Koran, he would have been punished. If he would have claimed Buddha to be his savior, he would have been punished.

    Conservatives are so hypocritical because they can’t understand that their religion is not the only one out there. They will not allow a mosque at the site of the 9/11 attacks because it’s not Christian, but they want Christian values to be taught in school as if it weren’t the same thing with a different religion. It makes me sick. I don’t care if you are religious, I just don’t want you telling me to be religious with you.

  • Alex G

    And one thing I love about this is that Christians say “YOU LIBERALS AREN’T TOLERANT OF OUR RELIGION AT ALL” when your religion is completely intolerant… sexual orientation, sex life at all, personal choice…. the list goes on.

    The fact is, Atheists or different religions don’t give graduation speeches proudly touting they are Atheist or whatever. I’m Atheist and in my graduation speech I gave, I didn’t care a bit what people believed, nor did I shove my opinions down their throat. But if I did, I 100% guarantee there would be booing, thrown things, and retaliation from the “tolerant Christians” in the crowd.

  • RobMcCune

    You sound envious.

  • TCC

    That might pass for reasonable argumentation at WND and Breitbart, but we expect a little more here. Try again, please.

  • Space Cadet

    You only need to capitalize ‘God’, not everything.

  • Joshua

    Amen brother! Im so happy that this christian man gets to live in a free country and express his religious views in a non threatening way! God bless you and you truly have the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding!

    • TheG

      He certainly is free to be a dick. And the school is free to impose the same punishment on anyone who has a speech approved, is granted the position to speak, and then pisses on the approval.

      To be clear, he isn’t being a dick by being Christian. He is being a dick because he is telling his fellow students that he is better than any of them that aren’t Christian and making them feel like outsiders at their own graduation.

      I’m so happy, too that he’s being a dick on video. That way, if his resume ever comes across my desk, I can hire a Christian who isn’t a dick and tell this Christian valedictorian to pound sand.

      • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

        TheG, that’s essentially what I was getting at with My “unfit to lead, unfit to follow” comment. He’s not a team player.

        To all commenters defending the young man’s actions, here’s a scenario for you to consider:

        You own an electronics company, and Mr. Costner works in your Sales and Marketing division. You have a new product coming out at a big conference in Las Vegas, and because Mr. Costner is the top performer on your sales force, you select him to make the presentation at the conference.

        So he goes to his desk and designs a very nice audiovisual presentation that covers all the features of the product. You sign off on it, and he flies off to Vegas with it.

        But when he hits the stage, in front of several thousand would-be clients, he smashes the data projector with a chair, pours a glass of water into his company-owned laptop computer, and starts reading the poem from Lord of the Rings.

        Do you see the problem now?

        • TheG

          I was trying to be more practical. As in when my top salesman starts every sales presentation with how every presentation is should be about Jesus and electronics are empty without the Blood of the Lamb.

          I’m not hiring him to my firm because I would rather not risk alienating 25% of my client base. And risking him being a dick to the other 75% just because he felt like it.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Grand analogy. I think I’ll Follow you here.

  • RobMcCune

    If you knew English, you’d know he was talking about christians.

    Seems to me if they were “enlightened” by their “gods”….just maybe they would be the one standing and giving the speech

    You’re aware there’s more than 1 high school, right?

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Good thing Deuteronomy 21 only refers to parents, not school officials.

  • allen

    What’s the big deal? Let the young man speak his mind. Don’t atheist
    have anything better to do than to make themselves feel better about not
    having any hope in the after-life by taking away the hope that others do
    have? Go find a better use of your time. The Hypocrites are you
    guys!!!

    • Retired Chief Petty Officer

      Actually, every student in that school had or has the opportunity to speak at the graduation. All they have to do is bear down, focus and win the position of Valedictorian, which hopefully will continue to be a competitive position attained by earning the highest school average for four years. If faith was the driving force that enabled him, The Constitution gives him the right to acknowledge his gratitude to the God he follows.

      • Goape

        How do you know that faith was the driving force that enabled him? I think his teachers might have had something to do with it too.

        • jones2371

          Takes a village, you know!

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Ambushing people with a full prayer at a government function they worked and paid to attend is not “expressing himself” or “acknowledging gratitude”. It is enforcing his will upon others.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Don’t Christians have anything better to do than to make themselves feel better by trolling online, lying about people, and being too stupid to understand why no one should be forced to sit through an ambush-prayer at their own graduation?

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    All caps means you’re serious. Or crazy, one of the two.

    Any prayer to any deity is unacceptable at a graduation. What people do on their own time I don’t care about. So I’d be just as upset and vocal about a prayer to Allah at a public school graduation and just as neutral about a private prayer to Allah.

  • mudskipper5

    “You people”, “you atheists”, “you liberals”, even “you militant atheists”…

    The supporters of this student commenting on this post are eager to highlight the separation between themselves and those who see problems with the student’s actions. They use terminology they believe denigrate the opponents to widen that separation by highlighting differences.

    And right there is the problem with what this kid did, this separation of the student body into “you” and “us”. Graduation doesn’t belong to one student or one religious group. It belongs to all of the students and their families who have come to celebrate the students’ achievements, ALL of them, regardless of race, religion, economic background, or sexual identity.

    By resorting to prayer from his faith, particularly when he knew he wasn’t allowed to do this, this student is selfishly claiming the ceremony for his own and for those who think like him and he is essentially saying to hell with the rest of you. That isn’t fair. It isn’t just. The success of ALL students is being celebrated, not just Christian students.

    There are two alternatives to fix that. One is to have students of every belief system be allowed to speak, but just imagine how long a ceremony that would be? So the only realistic alternative is to recognize that no one should have their religion included *publicly* in the ceremony. Does this mean you can’t pray? Nope. You just can’t impose prayer onto other people. That is the full meaning of freedom of religion, both the rights and the responsibilities. You have to accept both are yours to practice and respect, not just the parts you like.

    • griffox

      This deserves to be upvoted to the top. Well said!

  • Martin Yirrell

    So in your view, only your religion is acceptable & Christians must keep quiet about their faith. In the land of the free only Atheism is allowed in the public square.

    • TheG

      Not atheism, but secularism. A neutral position of the government where there is no endorsement or appearance of endorsement by anyone acting as an agent of state- or federally-sponsored organizations.

      So, yeah. Totally practice your religion at your church (open to the public) or privately owned business (open to the public). Elevation of a religion works when yours is the religion in majority. But if yours ever becomes smaller than the rest, you kind of take it in the shorts. Hence, neutrality.

    • mudskipper5

      Ignoring for now the misconception that atheism is a religion, excluding religion from the ceremony doesn’t mean you are INcluding atheism. No one is talking about it. It isn’t being lauded and praised to the non-heavens from the podium, thanking the complete absence of a god for guiding them through their high school career.

      There are plenty of important things to include in a speech at a graduation without including any religious topics. Family, friends, hard work, the future, inspiration, work ethic, building a better world, being grateful, hope… things all students share, not just a select few. No need to exclude. This ceremony should include all students.

  • Bill Santagata

    I think it’s also important to note for all the atheists and theists who are saying he has a right (under the Free Speech Clause) to do what he did (even if he shouldn’t have), this is not a Free Speech issue. The school has the right to censor graduation speeches.

    The speaker is up on the stage by invitation of the school speaking at an official school event. Because this is a school-sponsored forum, the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier ruling is in effect. The school has a right to control the content and proceedings of its official school functions and publications. The school could not, for example, prohibit a student from leafleting on the sidewalk prior to the event, with pamphlets that denounce the principal or have the Lord’s Prayer written on them.

    • vincent findley

      Again they did and he ripped it up prior to the speech and said f…..it.

  • griffox

    What? I’m not really sure what you are trying to say, but I’ll attempt an answer, anyway. He was giving a Christian speech because his parents are Christian and they raised him to be Christian. If he had been a Muslim and said a Muslim prayer, or an Atheist making a speech about Atheism, I would not change my reaction at all.

    However, there is no way that the Christians in that community would cheer on a Muslim student for using his or her free speech to pray to Allah. I really have no idea what you mean by “the ‘Gods’ of the others just don’t love them as much.” Are you saying that the kid was so blessed by his god that he was valedictorian? Because that would mean that every Christian student who wasn’t valedictorian, wasn’t loved by god, or that every non-christian valedictorian in the history of valedictorians was in that position because they were loved by the god that they served. And what the heck is an Atheist god?

  • serriekue

    Jesus is the Answer for the world today, above Him there’s no other Jesus is the Way. (Andre Crouch)

    • phantomreader42

      Jesus is a myth, and a poorly-written one at that.

    • mudskipper5

      “Chocolate is the Answer for the world today. Above It there’s no other. Chocolate is the Way.”

      There we go. Fixed it. This actually makes sense. Everyone believes in chocolate, right? :-)

      • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

        As the Goddess of Chocolate, I approve this message. :-D

  • jones2371

    Kudos to the brave young man for standing up to those who would – out of cowardly fear – limit his thought, faith and free expression thereof. How arrogant for anyone to think for a moment that humans are the most intelligent beings in the universe. Humans have about the same capacity to draw that conclusion as an ant has in understanding how to operate a smart phone.

    • Bill Santagata

      It’s a government-sponsored forum. “Free speech” does not exist when one is speaking in such a setting.

      A public school graduation is a secular event and the school has a legal obligation to ensure that it remains so. The student disobeyed the rules and the school could punish him if they so desire (such as by withholding his diploma).

  • Whiteeagle

    When will ‘Pagans’ begin to Understand that they CANNOT take one verse of Scripture (here) & one verse of Scripture (there) and use them as some kind of rhetorical demolition tool to Destroy ‘Faith’ ?? True Christians Cannot & Will not be Defined by a Pagan Understanding and ‘Assault’; Concerning the WORD of the Living GOD !! I tell my fellow-workers : “If you Don’t Believe in a ‘Living GOD’ … It Doesn’t ‘harm’ me … Because ‘Faith’ is Not for ‘Unbelievers’” !! … Paganism Does NOT Define Christianity !!! The ‘Christian is the ‘Open-Minded’ One; in that … I Will Not Fight Against You Being an ‘Unbeliever’ … I Will Love you the best I can (as GOD gives Me ‘Grace’ to do so) …. I Will ‘Embrace’ your choice to be an ‘Unbeliever’ …. Please Don’t Fight Against Me Being a ‘Believer’ … Because the LORD GOD is Not ‘Mocked’ (for whatsoever a man soweth, ‘that’ shall he also reapeth) … stay tuned for further ‘sermonettes’ ..(lol)

    • mudskipper5

      I wonder when Christians will begin to understand that they cannot take one verse of scripture (here) & one verse of scripture (there) and use them as some kind of rhetorical tool to support their faith. It has no authority with non-Christians. It’s like trying to convince us that the moon is made of green cheese and waving your kid’s picture book in our face and claiming it as evidence.

      • Whiteeagle

        As I said …. I embrace your choice to be a ‘non-Christian’, means nothing to me …. I’m Not trying to ‘Define’ your ‘Life-choice’ either way …. Therefore, I would appreciate the ‘non-Christian’; Not attempting to Define My ‘Choice for Life’ . The Scripture is a Beautiful ‘Tapestry’ of Spiritual Understanding of Which Only the Holy Ghost Can Bring into Perspective & Balance . As far as ‘Evidence’ goes … I’ve seen NONE; concerning million yr. old dinosaur bones, man’s evolution from a ‘polywog’, OR that GOD Didn’t Know me before I was even Formed in my momma’s belly … All ‘Evidence’ in my Life has been Contrary … to Scientific Theory & Speculation; that there is No ‘Invisible Reality’ …

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
        • TCC

          For fuck’s sake, stop abusing punctuation and capitalization like that. It would be one thing if you were just spewing nonsense, but it’s a travesty to do such violence to the English language.

          • Willy Occam

            No shit… the content of Whiteeagle’s comments is absurd enough, without having to wade through all of that random ‘punctuation’ AND capitalization in THE ‘process’… I guess WE (should) ‘interpret’ that AS a ‘reflection’ of HOW his ‘mind’ works.

        • mudskipper5

          Wow… You seem convinced that if you capitalize every other word and sprinkle in some extraneous punctuation it will somehow overpower and defeat all opposing views. I honestly can’t figure out what you are trying to argue here.

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    whatadicktorian

  • serriekue

    I find it very amusing how liberals, athiests, communists and all other God-hating groups demand Christians to be tolerant but all of the God-haters are the most intolerant of anyone. It’s another classic case of trying to change the meaning of the word. Leftists seem to think the meaning of the word tolerance is accepting an opposing view or belief. That’s what God-haters demand of Christians on all sorts of anti-Biblical topics. But it’s purely a one-way street, which makes the God-haters hypocrites to the Nth degree. Tolerance is allowing something that diviates from your own beliefs to happen. The left are all about shutting up, impuning, bullying, defaming, and hating anyone who opposes them and their views. But here again is a classic case of the left only accusing the opposition of things they themselves are guilty of. The ipitome of hypocricy.

    • Matt D

      Personally, I don’t make a habit of hating imaginary characters…it’s far too taxing to cast such a wide net over the thousands of religions that claim to know “god”…and unlike you, I cannot ignore their existence or dismiss them using standards I do not apply to my own. That wouldn’t be honest, and truth is important to me when confronting issues this important to all.
      In fact, I’m fairly certain when someone claims I’m against their diety, they think others don’t notice how convienent it is that you can dismiss the opinions of others without having to actually think about or examine them.

      • serriekue

        Something athiests don’t get is that their religion is a self worshipping one. Everyone worships, adores, places their faith in something. Usually it is themself. So while athiests claim to not believe in God they are their own god. Most athiest worship reason, education, intelligence. This is what they are enslaved to. Are you enslaved to sex? drugs? alcohol? sports? porn? work? family? food? the environment? politics? then these are your gods. One day EVERYONE who ever existed will know the truth. Those that die regecting God will spend eternity growing in hatred to God for once they die they realize how wrong they were.

        • RobMcCune

          You say everyone is enslaved to something because you can’t understand what it’s like not to have your mind enslaved by religion.

        • mudskipper5

          So… the thing you worship is your god and that is what you are enslaved to. What a sad (though perhaps accurate) way of explaining a system of religious beliefs.

          You are trying to take the world in general and make it fit into a religious framework with religious definitions (that don’t show believers in a good light, by the way), but it’s a square peg being forced into a round hole. “Worship” is all emotion, adoration and faith, no reason or logic needed, and I agree that it has a form of enslavement to it. I don’t agree that all people “worship” things, but they do appreciate their value. I don’t “worship” my family, but they are important to me. I don’t “worship” education, but I do think it benefits to our community. I definitely don’t worship politics, but politics impacts our lives and we need to pay attention to it.

          Interesting how you needed to include sex, drugs, alcohol and porn in there before family, food, and the environment. Offers a disturbing image of your priorities.

          • serriekue

            Look around you, man. This is a sex crazed world and is probably the #1 thing people are enslaved to, drugs, alcohol are also a huge problem. There is more money made on porn in a year than all the professional sports combined. Don’t tell me people don’t worship sex it what is forced on us all day long.

            • mudskipper5

              Ah… So this was just a statement of the general condition of humanity, not something you were attributing to atheists specifically? That the priorities of people in general are porn, sex, drugs and alcohol and family, food and the environment are of a secondary concern?

              You must be in your early 20′s…

              So you agree with my interpretation of your words that “the thing you worship is your god and that is what you are enslaved to”?

        • Miss_Beara

          We are “enslaved” by intelligence and education? People are “enslaved” by their family and environment?

          We are not “enslaved” by anything. We value education, we value intelligence, we value or family and environment. To think that if you are enslaved by something and must worship something then everyone must be enslaved and worship something is bizarre to say the least. And, again, atheism is not a religion.

          Threats of hell do not work since hell is a myth.

          • serriekue

            Look at what the world values. Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, fame, celebrity, money, power, etc… When these things consume the populous they are enslaved by them. When all people care about is hedinous pleasures it is all about them and that is self worship. Look at the emphasis on physical beauty. American socity tells us that if we are not one of the beautiful, sucessful, sexy, skinny people we are unworthy. If our society didn’t worship their own bodies there wouldn’t be more fitness centers than churches or schools.

            Athiesm IS a religion of disbelief. Many Athiest are also into the religion of Environmentalism, where they worship mother earth. If there is nothing after this life what does it matter what we do with our lives? Why should we care.
            Hell may be a myth to you now, but one day it will be more real than your earthly life. Hope you figure that out so you never have to experience that.

            • Space Cadet

              Any other religions you want to tell us we belong to?

              • serriekue

                Sure. Humanism.

                • mudskipper5

                  Keep changing that definition of religion! Go for it! Redefine it right into obsolescence. I’ll cheer you on from the sidelines.

                • serriekue

                  Yeah, like I have that kind of power. Give me a break. Those that subscribe to the secular humanistic philosophy do so religiously.

                • mudskipper5

                  “Yeah, like I have that kind of power.”

                  And yet you keep trying.

            • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

              Serrikue: “If there is nothing after this life what does it matter what we do with our lives?”

              So how would eternal life actually fix this pseudo-problem? All it does is push The Ultimate Meaning of It All into an infinitely distant and forever unreachable future.

              And how would the existence of a god fix this? If you have to be “assigned” the meaning of your life by some other being, it can never be your meaning.

              Life matters if you think it matters. Meaning is subjective, not objective.

        • http://springygoddess.blogspot.com/ Astreja

          Actually, Serriekue, if I were to find Myself in hell I would know instantly that I was absolutely, unequivocally correct in disrespecting an entity that would be so barbaric as to create such a place.

          And then I’d grab the very first suffering person and carry them to safety… And the next, and the next. If you should find yourself there with Me, please help so that we can all go home early.

        • glebealyth

          Interestingly, serrikue, you are not prepared to consider that you might be enslaved to your religion, and gladly so, as it absolves you of the need to do any thinking.
          One day, you will stop knowing anything as your consciousness ends and your faith in an afterlife ceases. What is so very sad about that is that all the years you will have wasted, trusting in the goodness of your god, will have passed without you achieving anything to the betterment of the occupants of the world you actually inhabit and know for a fact exists.
          All this wasted life, just because you do not have the balls to admit that you might be wrong, is shameful.
          I am happily prepared to admit that I might be wrong and there may be a god. If there is, it is unlikely to be the barbaric fantasy you worship – being a god implies being better than humanity, and any god that can dispense eternal punishment for temporal wrongdoing is certainly not an improvement on humanity.

          One atheist hand, employed in meaningful and useful work, will achieve far more than you two believing hands, clasped in prayer, ever will; and this fact should shame and embarrass you into changing your philosophy.

          You are a slave to your pride and your ignorance and the world suffers because of it.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      It’s very sad that you’re too stupid to know why public schools should not be places where students are preached at, and are too arrogant to bother educating yourself on topics before speaking.

      Your Christlike bigotry and raging hate is showing. Might wanna work on that.

      • serriekue

        LOL. Typical lib redefining words. Reciting something is not preaching. praying is not preaching. Disagreeing with someone is not hate . If disagreeing with someone equated to hate then no one could hold a candle on the God-hating left with the hate they spew.
        BTW NOWHERE in the US Constitution do the words “Separation of church and state” appear. Another liberal tactic is calling people stupid for disagreeing with ones political views. Nice try though. I happened to have graduated with a 4.0 with a BA in social science and one of my many term papers was on the Myth of Separation of church & state so I have studied it, thankyouverymuch. The Founders of this country stressed freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof and not freedom FROM religion. If you are so possitive God doesn’t exist then why are you so threatened by people who believe He does? Hopefully you will find the truth before it’s too late or you’ll spend an eternity wishing you had.

        • mudskipper5

          “Disagreeing with someone is not hate .”

          Exactly. So when non-believers disagree with believers, that doesn’t mean they “are all about shutting up, impuning, bullying, defaming, and hating anyone who opposes them and their views.” If anything, that line from your first comment was a lovely little bit of projection.

          By your definition of ‘freedom of religion’, someone would be able to tell you how to worship, because it is their right to proselytize and you don’t have the right NOT to listen to what they are “reciting”. An Islam cleric or a Buddhist monk or a Zoroastrian could come into your child’s classroom and preach (yes, preach) to your child for 30 minutes without your permission and you could do nothing about it, because, according to you, freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom FROM religion.

          You need to recognize the long-term implications of what you are arguing and so far you haven’t demonstrated that you are seeing much past the end of your faithful nose. Freedom of religion isn’t just about rights, it is about responsibilities as a citizen in a religiously diverse nation. You are free to practice religion but that isn’t a limitless right, because your right to practice your faith is no more important than anyone else’s. If you impose upon the religious rights of others while practicing your rights, the rights can and should be regulated fairly for all involved. You may not like the sound of that, but the end result of that is you have both the right to practice a faith and the right NOT to practice all of the other thousands of faiths out there that you don’t believe in. Atheists just don’t practice one more than you do.

          • serriekue

            Oh but religion is being taught in the public schools it’s called humanism. There is also the scientific religion of evolution and environmentalism. Now you have schools forcing children to participate in Yoga which is of the Hindu religion and I don’t see the ACLU stepping in and stopping that. Heaven forbid the school should have a Bible in their library, but a book on Wicca is ok. Oh, religion in public school is alive and well, it’s just Christianity that isn’t allowed.

            • mudskipper5

              LOL! Now who’s redefining terms to fit their argument?

              You poor suffering Christians. Having to learn facts, logic, and all that science-y stuff. According to you, your Christian god gave you your brain. He should be really pissed that you’re wasting that space between your ears.

              • serriekue

                Nice try. What word did I redefine? The public school system is not teaching children anymore it’s indoctrinating. Common Core is even worse. BTW I got A’s in every one of my 4 philosphy classes just because you don’t agree with what someone thinks doesn’t make them wrong. But that’s what liberals do, they impunge, name call, and bully anyone with different ideas than theirs all in an effort to suppress opposing thought. All the while demanding they be tolerant when in reality liberals have not one tolerant atom in their bodies. This is the epitome of hypocricy.

                • RobMcCune

                  You redefined religion to mean science and exercise. Though with such a bizarre defintion, your confusion over the establishment clause becomes much more understandable.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Humanism isn’t a religion. It’s a philosophy, and it gets put next to Existentialism, Nihilism, Plato’s ideal forms, postmodernism, and many other schools of philosophy. You redefined religion to include philosophy.

                  Secular Humanism is the branch of humanism that is specifically a-religious, even atheist. That is clearly not taught in schools as part of any core curriculum. Why is it threatening that children will be taught history, math, literature, and science, with texts written by experts in the field, and held to reasonably high standards of knowledge about those things?

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  But that’s what liberals do, they impunge, name call, and bully anyone with different ideas than theirs all in an effort to suppress opposing thought. All the while demanding they be tolerant when in reality liberals have not one tolerant atom in their bodies. This is the epitome of hypocricy.

                  And liberals say the exact same thing about conservatives. I think that whenever one resorts to using political ideologies as epithets, they’ve given up rational discourse. And yes, that goes for many of the atheists here as well.

                  I fail to see what his prayer has to do with political ideologies.

                • mudskipper5

                  You tried to redefine religion by stretching its meaning so that it could encompass science, which isn’t possible since science is the antithesis of religion. Polar opposites.

                  You will want to be careful about trying to change the definition of religion because if you try to equate it to science, then religion will need to assume the characteristics of science and require empirical support for it’s claims. Then, either religion would fail because it lacks empirical support OR there will be support and there would be no more need for blind faith. Either way, religion will no longer exist as we know it.

                  You know what? Go ahead and keep trying to redefine religion. I like where that’s going.

                • serriekue

                  Seriously, you’re that literal? If you’re going to be technical about it then let me put it this way. Those that subscribe to the secular humanistic philosophy do so with the same vigor as those who subscribe to the Christian worldview. If your faith is in science and science alone that is a form of worship. Today science is so politicized so much of it is manipulated the their “findings” need to be taken with a grain of salt. One has to be pretty narrow minded to believe all of that is in the universe happened by itself over billions of years. If that were the case there would be random chaos and no order at all. Take all the parts of a computer throw them in the air for billions of years and do you think a computer could build itself? How is it that no skyscraper every built itself but the universe did?

                • mudskipper5

                  “One has to be pretty narrow minded to believe all of that is in the universe poofed itself into existence in a seven day span of time at the whim of a not-so-benevolent deity.”

                  There. Fixed that for you. Cheers!

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Did God make itself?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          You’re dishonestly claiming that starting and leading a formal prayer is “quoting”. You’re just another sad little liar for Jesus. Tell me, does Jesus love that you lie for him?

          The “Freedom from religion” argument has been well refuted, as has the “You really believe in God” one, the “myth of separation” one, and well, every other bit of gibberish you spewed. Apparently your narcissistic recitation of (presumably truthful, but God knows with your ilk) academic achievements does not represent any training at the use of Google. Or the use of commas. So much for that B.A….

          “BTW NOWHERE” in the U.S. Constitution do the words “right to privacy” exist, yet you believe you have said right. Likewise, Jefferson’s phrase is used to describe the intentions of the relevant clause. Again, two seconds with Google could have told you that.

          It’s funny how you keep obsessing over “liberals”, as if the freedom to not be forced to participate in a tyrannical majority’s religion was somehow a partisan issue*. Your raging, incoherent parabigotry is noted.

          Also, does Jesus love your narcissism and unwillingness to seek truth, by the way?

          By the way, telling people they’re going to Hell is claiming to know the will of God, which is claiming to be a prophet. Since you aren’t one, see you in Hell. Jesus was pretty clear on false prophets.

          *Well, it is, inasmuch as tyrants and their victims can be said to be partisan.

          • serriekue

            I said reciting a prayer or quoting scripture is not preaching. And the Lord’s Prayer that he said out loud is in Scripture so he was QUOTING or RECITING scripture. There you go again trying to redefine what words mean. And you get to decide what constitutes a lie? You who believes the biggest lie of all? (That God doesn’t exist). If anyone here is preaching it’s you. Funny how God-haters expect perfection. Never once did I claim to be perfect. You’re upset about commas in a chatroom? Talk about narcissism. Get a grip, dude. But, hey, everything’s, relative, so, who, cares. What’s right for one person may not be right for the next. Isn’t that the way it goes? SoifIwanttoeliminatespacesitshouldn’tmatter.

  • Jamie

    I watched the video, heard the cheers from the audience, and my stomach turned a little. But then, I thought about it some more and realized that this isn’t school-sponsored religion or endorsement of it but rather the individual’s choice to use the public speaking time awarded him to express his beliefs. While I want to slap the guy in the back of the head, then proceed to do the same to every person that cheered him on, it’s his right- he earned it by being a good student and working hard. The same way that an atheist student, if given the honor of speaking before his or her class, should be able to speak on humanism, atheism or whatever they wanted. While this graduation ceremony wasn’t the appropriate time or place for prayer (valedictorian status doesn’t necessarily equate to common sense), this is a matter or freedom of speech, not government endorsement of religion through a school, and should be protected no matter the opinion of the person speaking.

    • mudskipper5

      No. This would be just as wrong if any other student used a time of celebration for all students to promote their own specific religion (or lack there of). I don’t care how good a student he was; that earns him recognition and honor, but not special constitutional privileges.

      This student was NOT just representing himself or his religion. He was representing the graduating class as a whole. His actions excluded some of his classmates and made it about just the Christian students. It was a very selfish act that detracted from the ceremony for non-Christians, and the fact that he was told not to do it in the first place makes it worse.

      Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you are allowed to use that speech to impose it upon other people, nor does it allow you to assume special privileges. This student did both. He used his rights but didn’t balance them with the responsibility of not negatively impacting other’s equally important rights.

      • Jamie

        He does NOT represent the graduation class as a whole. The title of valedictorian is an award for holding the highest GPA in the class. It’s not awarded for being the most thoughtful, or even for being the smartest, but only for having the highest GPA. In his speech, he represents himself only.

        Yes, his quotation of the bible (after all, that is what he did) was about as appropriate as quoting Hitler in a graduation speech, but it’s still his right. Would you complain if a high school valedictorian quoted Dawkins or Hitchens in their speech?

        • mudskipper5

          You are trying to parse semantics and you are avoiding any substance.

          Semantics: “Valedictorian” is a status earned relative to the class as a whole. It exists only because of the existence of the class itself and can’t exist on it’s own. He was not the valedictorian. He was the *class* valedictorian and, as such, he represents the class as it’s top performing academic member.

          Substance: Regardless, that ceremony didn’t belong to him, it belonged to the class as a whole. It was not his right to highjack it and claim it only for Christians, pointedly ignoring and excluding non-Christians. That isn’t part of the perks of being named valedictorian. The ceremony still belongs to and has be shared with all students.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Ambushing people with a full prayer at a government function they worked and paid to attend is not “expressing himself” or merely “quoting”. It is enforcing his will upon others. It’s an extremely dishonest word game you’re playing to pretend that instigating a prayer is “quoting”.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Ambushing people with a full prayer at a government function they worked
      and paid to attend is not “expressing himself”. It is enforcing his
      will upon others.

  • Andrew

    Cant we just view this for what it is? A young man standing up for what he believes in. Is there anything wrong with that? He didn’t hurt anyone. I, as a christian do not take offence when I a speaker does not mention God. Atheists should not take offence when a prayer is said. It’s time for us to grow up and worry about bigger issues.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Childishly dismissive last sentence is childishly dismissive.

      Ambushing people with a full prayer at a government function they worked
      and paid to attend is not “expressing himself”. It is enforcing his
      will upon others.

      Not mentioning a god is the NEUTRAL position. The only reasonable analogy would be for you to say that you take no offense when an atheists rips up his speech (thus lying to the school staff) and begins a rant about how there is no God, and how knowing such made him a better person. Convenient for you that that doesn’t happen, eh?

  • vincent findley

    Good for that young man!!!!! Expressing his freedom of religion and speech. Now if he were a non-theist and expressed his views as such, would that be ok?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Ambushing people with a full prayer at a government function they worked and paid to attend is not “expressing himself”. It is enforcing his will upon others. Jesus, is this HARD?

      • vincent findley

        That’s not the question i asked C.L. If a non-theist expressed his views as such is that ok? Anyway, bottom line is that is his right under the constitution your faction is always defending. It was his right and I give kudos to him for saying enough of this politically correct bullshit. more should do this period.

        • mudskipper5

          How would a non-theist express himself in a way similar to how this student did in terms of his religious faith? If you can explain how that would be done, we might have an easier time answering your question.

          • Bill Santagata

            A non-theist could blather on about how there are no gods and how it’s stupid to believe in gods. This would be equally inappropriate and unconstitutional.

            • mudskipper5

              But of course, on one of the most important days of their lives, non-theists would be too smart to “blather on” about imaginary things that DIDN’T help them succeed. They would talk about the family, friends and faculty that supported them and they would also talk about their hopes for the future. You know… things all students have in common.

        • Bill Santagata

          It simply was not “his right.” By allowing him up on stage to speak to an audience assembled for the purposes of attending a (secular) graduation ceremony, the school is placing his speech in a privileged position. He is speaking from a school-sponsored forum, therefore the Hazelwood standard controls.

          This has all played out before in the 9th Circuit in Cole v. Oroville Union High School District. The valedictorian wanted to use her speech to proselytize, the school said no citing the Establishment Clause, she sued on Free Speech grounds, and she lost.

          • vincent findley

            The difference here Bill is they didn’t know he was going to do it. He ripped it up before he got to the podium and used his own, therefore not government endorsed, free speech. This will be interesting when the first suit gets to court.

            • Bill Santagata

              They would probably get a pass this time. However, the school has a responsibility to ensure the secularity of the ceremony. This can only happen so many times before the school can no longer throw up its hands and say “Wow we had no clue THAT would happen…again!”

              There was another high school this year (I think in Nevada?) that cut off the valedictorian’s mic when he went off-script about Jesus. This is the proper protocol and what the school should have done here.

              • vincent findley

                Like I said Bill, we shall see when the first suit reaches a court, some weighty issues here. Like speculation, which is not allowed in a court of law.

  • Matt

    You’re kidding. “Ban all student speakers at future graduations”? How far will you not go to see the kind of speech you don’t approve of banned?

  • sniknej

    you whackos sicken me. what you all need is a good old fashioned ass whooping. saying the lords prayer when told not to is a perfect example of the type of action we TRUE Americans need to take with this ever increasing invasion of this brain eating whackiness that has brought the country to it’s knees. to all you non-americans, GTFO OF OUR COUNTRY you cancerous growth! hope to see you on your day of banishment so I can give you your much needed ass kicking.

    • mudskipper5

      What a wonderful example of Christian love and forgiveness. I’m sure your reasoned logic will sway many in this thread to reconsider their opposition to this student’s actions.

    • phantomreader42

      Ah, death threats! How very, VERY christian of you!

      • sniknej

        your “nothingness” can wait and is no doubt severely overpopulated. good old ass whooping will suffice.

        • phantomreader42

          Thank you, sniknej, for your irrevocable admission that your sick death cult has NOTHING to offer but lies and threats. But of course, everyone knows you’re too much of a worthless coward to actually carry out any of your threats. You’d be the slimy little worm hiding at the back of the lynch mob, shitting himself in terror at the thought that people who don’t worship you are allowed to live, lusting for blood but fainting at the sight of it.

          • sniknej

            roflmfao! good stuff!


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