If Christians Want to Pray During Their Graduation Speeches, They Should Read the Bible First

This is a guest post by Alise Wright.


It’s graduation season, which means it’s time for another round of “Let’s show the world we’re Christians by praying at our public high school graduation ceremonies!”

The legality of student-led prayer tends to be a bit all over the place, but for the most part, it is protected under the First Amendment.

But I don’t really want to talk about the legality of student-led prayer at graduations, but rather the motivation. What message are we trying to send when we pray aloud in public spaces?

The most famous example of this year’s list of Christian students being unashamed of their faith was South Carolina student Roy Costner IV. The Pickens County School Board had banned prayers in the graduation speeches and he had written one that had been approved by the board. But after speaking with his pastor, he approached the podium, ripped up his speech, and recited the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:9-13. He said it presumably to show his faithfulness to his Christian values that his parents instilled in him and that his pastor encouraged him to display.

However, when Costner spoke to his pastor, he should have been directed to an earlier passage in Matthew 6, which reads, “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.”

This is a mere four verses before the prayer is given. Before Jesus said anything about what to pray, this was the instruction on where to pray. Not in public, but in private. Not to be seen by others, but as a show of faith that God will hear our prayers even if they are uttered into the void without any immediate feedback.

That’s not all. The prayer itself offers some guidance.

In the prayer, we ask that God’s will be done here on earth.

In John 15, these are the instructions to Christians, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

We are given clear directions. Love each other. Lay down our lives for one another.

Tony Perkins called the Freedom From Religion Foundation “the radical minority” in his response to this situation, and he applauded Costner for saying no to their repression. Radical is used as a pejorative and the assumption is that because they are a minority, their views shouldn’t matter.

But what about the radical majority? Why is it acceptable and even honorable to ignore so many of the teachings that surround and are a part of the verses being spoken? Why is legality the only consideration, when as Christians, we should hold ourselves to the standard set forth in our holy texts?

I do not think that people need to hide their faith. Something that informs your decisions and that is an integral part of your life is something that people should know about. And if prayer is part of your faith (especially if it is accompanied by action), that does not automatically have negative implications.

However, when prayer is used as a tool to build you up while simultaneously excluding others, the point has been missed. In that moment, we are not loving. We are not laying down our lives for our non-believing friends, but rather, we are using their lives as a tool to make ourselves look more important, which flies in the face of the numerous calls to humility.

If Christians want to speak to the “radical minority,” perhaps our first step should be to become radical in our majority status. But rather than making that radical leap by being more strident in our faith, perhaps radical could mean that we do what the Lord’s Prayer says. That we seek, not to glorify ourselves, but for forgiveness of our sins of pride and exclusion. That we bring about the unity of the Kingdom of God, not through rote prayers at a graduation ceremony, but in the daily laying down of our lives for all people, including the radical minority.


Alise Wright is the author of The Christian Guide to Atheists, a series that examines common misconceptions that Christians have about atheists, agnostics, and other non-religious people. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

  • Matt Potter

    Wonderful article! However, you are assuming that many Christians have read their bible in it’s entirety and/or care that the verses you are quoting actually apply to them.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

    Yes! Paying to prove a point to those listening…or worse, “put them in their place” and make them feel excluded…totally defeats the purpose.

  • Rain

    This is a mere four verses before the prayer is given. Before Jesus said anything about what to pray, this was the instruction on where to pray. Not in public, but in private. Not to be seen by others, but as a show of faith that God will hear our prayers even if they are uttered into the void without any immediate feedback.

    Once one has taken the first baby steps of not turning the other cheek and not selling all of one’s belongings and not actually moving any mountains, then the rest of ignoring anything Jesus ever said is just icing on the cake. Jesus was just too dumb of a philosopher to be taken seriously. Luckily you don’t exactly have to be a rocket scientist to be the creator of the universe.

  • Maria B

    Wow – this post is rather incredibly judgmental. In an interview with Piers Morgan, Costner’s dad said when his son asked if he should say the prayer, he told him – not if you’re trying to make a point. Only if you’re trying to bring glory to God.

    It is again, jaw-droppingly judgmental to presume to know why he prayed …”he said it presumably to show his Christian values…” seriously? Do you know him? He couldn’t have said it to glorify God?
    I agree he shouldn’t have said it if he was just trying to make a point, make himself look good or put ‘others’ in their place. But wow, I’d never pretend to know why he did it. So ironic to talk about loving each other in the midst of really strongly judging someone else.

  • DesertSun59

    The kid not only exposed himself as ignorant of the Bible, but he also exposed himself as a colossal asshole for ignoring the directive of how to conduct himself during the ceremony. The fact that his parents backed him tells me that they’re delusional in their addiction to what they believe to be their religion; and I assert that his family hates/is ignorant of the Constitution with a passion that is only matched by their fanatical devotion to their Bronze Age myth.

  • Willy Occam

    I think tearing up the approved speech in an act of defiance before launching into his prayer gives a pretty good indication of this kid’s intentions. And I’m sure he didn’t mind the accompanying applause either.

  • Jeff See

    I clearly got the impression that the young lad was doing it for the fame it garnered him. The inflection is his voice, his posture, his tone; all of these, to me at least. definitely gave me the impression that he was getting off on what he was doing. The author was, I think, trying to err on the side of being positive about it, and noted that he must have meant to show how strongly he values his faith.

    He could not have been saying it to glorify God, because he went against God to do it. Anyone meaning to show glory to God, doesn’t put on a show about themselves. Which, to me, is exactly what that kid had done. You don’t have to know, to be able to safely assume. You could still be wrong, but just because one person is willing to make an assumptive statement, doesn’t make them bad in comparison to someone who’s not. I’m willing to bet he never turned down a back slap or a handshake afterwards.

  • The Other Weirdo

    It doesn’t matter why he prayed. He prayed publicly, which itself is a violation of a command of Jesus.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    If he wasn’t doing it to show off, he wouldn’t have resorted to lying to everyone in order to do it. He wouldn’t have ignored his own god’s words on the matter. He wouldn’t have written glowingly afterwards about his own action.

    Other people can put two and two together based on multitudes of examples and routine knowledge of human psychology and behavior patterns. Pretending that you don’t know why he did it is disingenuous at best.

    Judgemental, jaw-droppingly judgmental, really strongly judging… your comments are ironic.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Assuming that Jesus’s words came from an actual person, I get the feeling that he ran out of things to say after a while, and, in trying to further “help” his followers and keep their attention, eventually ended up talking his way into some stupid shit. Pontificating extemporaneously can backfire badly after a little while.

  • WallofSleep

    Some followers look at the bible as a book to live by, while others see it as nothing more than a cherry tree to beat others with.

  • cripdyke

    Yeah, except when that’s the purpose.

  • Keyra

    Jesus spoke in parables and figurative speech; allegorical and metaphorical. That doesn’t mean he’s “dumb”.
    “Jesus was just too dumb of a philosopher to be taken seriously.”, I could say the same thing about Bert Russell, but I’d be judging

  • Keyra

    In Matthed 6:5-7, Jesus gives two ways to ensure that our prayers are righteous. First, prayers should not be for the purpose of being seen by others as righteous or “spiritual.” Second, prayers should be authentic, as from the heart, and not just vain repetition or “empty phrases.” However, when compared with other Scriptures that show people praying in public, we know that this is not an exhortation to always pray alone. The issue is to avoid sin. Those who struggle with the desire to be seen as righteous and who notice that temptation creeping in during public prayer would do well to heed Jesus’ prescription to get alone and pray just to the Father who will reward in secret. Jesus knew that the Pharisees’ desire was to be seen by men as righteous, not really to talk to God. This statement about prayer was meant to convict and is instructive for all Christians, but it does not mean that all prayer must be secret.

    Public prayer should be God-honoring, selfless, and based in a true desire to speak to God and not to men. If we can pray publicly without violating these principles, we do well to pray publicly. If, however, our conscience forbids it, there is nothing less effective about a prayer offered in secret.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Is there anything in what Jesus has said that can be taken as concrete statements that should be believed?

  • Michael W Busch

    No. The people who wrote things that are attributed to Jesus wrote in parables and figurative speech. We do not know what whatever historical Jesus there may have been actually said, so we can’t say what the quality of his philosophy was (and if there was no historical Jesus, this entire discussion is moot).

  • WallofSleep

    Many people do not realize how far removed from those times the author(s) of the new testament were.

    Edit: Hell, many people don’t even realize what language the nt was originally written in.

  • Michael W Busch

    Public prayer should be God-honoring, selfless, and based in a true desire to speak to God and not to men

    None of which describes Costner’s speech.

  • Hat Stealer

    There’s a point where things stop being metaphors and just become bullshit. Jesus Christ, the man who cast death rays at fig bushes, told his followers that he would grant them telekinesis, and explained that they should renounce their families and sell all their possessions because the world would end in his lifetime, falls into the category of bullshit.

    I mean, you can say that’s all a metaphor. You can interpret the Bible to mean anything you like really, because there will never be anything clear cut without room for interpretation in a book of fairy tales. To say that you’re just so lucky as to have the right interpretation is stupid.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Let’s start a movement. The next time you attend a televised sporting event, and hold up a sign reading “Matt 6:5-6.”

  • Reginald Selkirk

    How does being an ass-hat glorify God?

  • Tim Rosser

    I find it hilarious how atheists preach how much better they are than others because you don’t believe in anything, YET you babble on with inane stuff like this article. Is it because you’re scared, or you bored?

  • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

    FTR, the author of this article (me) is a Christian. So the babbling in this case is being done by a person of faith.

  • WallofSleep

    Oh snap, son, you just got schooled!

  • WallofSleep

    Yeah, I’m thinking reading comprehension is not one of Tim’s stronger suits.

  • WallofSleep

    “I find it hilarious how atheists preach how much better they are than others [citation needed] because you don’t believe in anything, [citation needed]

  • Tom

    “not if you’re trying to make a point. Only if you’re trying to bring glory to God.”
    Please explain how the latter is not an instance of the former.

  • RobMcCune

    Dude, your comment is just so boring, you must be bored. Or scared, yeah you’re totally scared</impression>

  • Tim Rosser

    Yeah, I’m thinking you’re probably around 12?!! Oh snap is sooooo outdated.

  • WallofSleep

    Yep, you got me. I’m very immature for my age.

  • Tim Rosser

    Yeah, since you know me so well.

  • WallofSleep

    You couldn’t even tell the author of the article was a believer. I don’t need to know you to see that you come off half-cocked and ignorant.

  • Tim Rosser

    Yup, but what fun would that be if you weren’t?

  • observer

    At risk of invoking the No True Scotsman fallacy, can we even call these people Christians if they’re obviously not following their own rules?

  • Tim Rosser

    That’s cool. If I’m ignorant, then that must make you nescient perhaps?

  • Tim Rosser

    Good, glad you introduced yourself.

  • Christine

    How many introductions are necessary before you consider one to have introduced themselves? There was an explicit one in the article, as well as the obvious but tacit one.

  • Willy Occam

    Indeed. Just more evidence of the religionist propaganda machine, which is about as grounded in reality as their faith.

  • C Peterson

    There’s not much evidence to suggest that Jesus existed at all. But the messages attributed to him by the inventors of Christianity are, for the most part, dumb. Not the actual words, not the parables (which may be moderately clever at times), but the meaning of the words and parables. Most of what Christianity preaches is either morally bankrupt, or completely contrary to human nature.

  • C Peterson

    The one about keeping prayer private is pretty good.

  • Kaye

    Thanks, Alise, for the challenge to fellow believers. Thanks, Hemant, for providing the place for it. Thanks to both of you for setting an example of mutual respect.

  • Miss_Beara

    A Catholic who posts here occasionally once said “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” means to pray in public whenever possible. The usual case of “I don’t like what this says, so I am going to change the meaning to the opposite” and “atheists take it so literally.”

  • Ben Roy

    I find it rather humorous that Costner honored his God by lying to administrators about what speech he was going to give, and then making a big show of it, by ripping the approved speech up. Yep, God loves him some liars

  • Ben Roy

    Interesting, Christianity is a dying religion, and you think we’re scared…that’s funny. The numbers don’t like, Christianity is headed the way of Greek Mythology; another member of the pantheon of dead religions

  • Tim Rosser

    Did I ever say I was a Christian? So, for your statement: I…..don’t……care!!!!

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    I’ve been quoting Matthew 6:1-6 at Christians who demand to pray as publicly as possible, as often as possible, to no avail. Not a single one of them will admit that this teaching, by none other than Jesus himself, is something they need to abide by. No, they insist they’re free to ignore it, even though it’s explicit, clear, and unambiguous.

    If you care to see how far they’ll go to justify their public piety in the face of Jesus’ unmitigated condemnation of public piety, see my exchange with a Christian in the comments on this blog article.

    My conclusion is that Christians really don’t want to be Christians, when you get right down to it. They like to claim they’re Christians, but when it comes to what Jesus taught them and what the Bible actually says, they stay just as far away from it as they possibly can. And when they get caught at their game of saying they belong to a religion whose true teachings they refuse to obey, they get all sanctimonious about it and devise any number of ridiculous, insane little rationales to get around it.

    Bottom line, they’re liars and hypocrites. Which just happens to be the very sort of people Jesus himself despised with a holy passion.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Yes, he lied. But he lied for Jesus, you see, so that makes it right.

    (Hopefully everyone’s sarcasm detectors picked that one up.)

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    It’s because atheists know your own religion better than you do. If I were you, I’d be more worried about your mortal soul, than about whining about how horrible those insolent atheists are, and how dare they tell you anything about your own religion?

    Really, this is very simple: The founder of your own religion expressly forbid you ever to pray in public (Mt 6:1-6). That you do it anyway, in spite of claiming to follow him, makes you a hypocrite; and hypocrisy just happens to be something else your own Jesus explicitly forbid you ever to engage in (Mt 7:3-5; Lk 6:42).

    Your anger at atheists for knowing this better than you do, is both misplaced and juvenile. It doesn’t matter who tells you what Jesus taught; those teachings are all recorded in the holy scripture of the religion to which you belong. It’s your religion, not atheists’. They didn’t write your gospels … Christians did. If you choose not to obey them, that’s fine, but getting all sanctimoniously outraged that atheists have insolently pointed out that you’re openly and brazenly violating its teachings, isn’t going to help you at all. No amount of anger over being told this, can change the fact that you are consciously choosing to disobey your own Jesus.

    Time to grow up, suck it up, and obey your own religion, for once. Or not. The choice is yours. No non-Christian has anything to do with it.

  • Michael W Busch

    atheists preach how much better they are than others because you don’t believe in anything,

    You appear to have confused “do not believe in the existence of any deities” with “do not believe in anything”. The first is atheism. The second is metaphysical nihilism, which very few people here would advocate. Please learn the difference.

    And nor do atheists “preach how much better they are than others” – some do, but that is not a requirement of being an atheist. What atheists assert is that not believing in the existence of deities is better than doing so, since there is no evidence for the existence of deities.

    YET you babble on with inane stuff like this article.

    Alise’s piece here is not inane. It is an observation of the self-contradiction of publicly promoting a religion that in a way that that religion claims it should not be publicly promoted.

    And the more general point, that promotion of any religion (or of irreligion) has no place in the ceremonies performed by a secular government, is quite important.

    Edit: And it happens that Alise is a Christian. Which makes your comment even more confused.

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m really tired of hearing about how what Costner did took balls, or bravery, or was “being unashamed.”

    Please stop saying this.

    It does NOT take any sort of courage to do something when you have the majority around you supporting you and telling you to do it. And he knew he would have that support.

    By talking about how brave he was, and how he was supposedly taking a stand, you encourage this kind of action. You make it look good. And you’re flat out lying.

  • Baby_Raptor

    If he only wanted to “glorify God,” there were a bunch of other places he could have done so that didn’t require making an ass of himself and defying the school’s authority.

    He could have “glorified God” by himself afterward in his room. Or in a celebration with like-minded people. Or over dinner with his family. Or even with a bunch of like-minded graduates after the ceremony.

    Instead, he chose to defy the school, make a huge deal of doing so, and then pray when he’d been told not to. There’s nothing “glorifying God” about that. It was done to provoke.

  • misterAmuses

    while this person has acted in keeping with Traditional American Christianity as a religion he has clearly NOT acted as a “Follower of Jesus”. [This is not a judgement on my part, it is just a matter of looking at the path Jesus took and discerning whether or not Costner... and his pastor... were on it.]
    Jesus so clearly taught “Go this way” (pray in secret) and do NOT go that way (pray in public)
    Jesus taught submission to those in authority. As long as the student had not yet graduated, ie “left the building”, he was under the School directives. He was not then being a “Follower of Jesus”.
    If we appeal to the command “We ought to obey God rather than man” that is ONLY when the command of man conflicts with the moral command of God, and in this case the command of God very much says “do not pray in public to be seen and heard of man.” So again Costner may be a “good” (American) Christian, but definitely NOT a follower of Jesus.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Nah, dude, you’re just a dumb atheist, you can’t understand the complexities of modern theology because you’re dumb and you haven’t been saved and waaah. Obviously Matthew 6:5-8 is to be figuratively interpreted to mean to pray properly and without sin. It obviously doesn’t mean what the text plainly says. Obviously it’s figurative speech.

  • C Peterson

    And it’s a mystery. Let’s not forget that.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

    I think in that case it would be fair to call them “not true Christians” though because it’s such a subjective issue, with many diverse opinions about what constitutes “true” Christianity, you’re always going to be in danger of it being fallacious.

  • Michael W Busch

    You have just invoked the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. If Costner claims he is “a follower of Jesus”, then he is one. You may claim he is being hypocritical in how he does so.

    And, again, we do not know what whatever historical Jesus there may have been taught. All we know is what various writers wrote and attributed to Jesus.

  • DavidMHart

    “a cherry tree to beat others with”

    That is an excellent smush-up of metaphors :-)

  • DavidMHart

    No, but people who think that atheists “don’t believe in anything” (seriously, what does that even mean?) almost always subscribe to some religion, and Christianity is the dominant religion in the English-speaking world, so it’s not a wildly unreasonable thing to presume.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

    Oh. My. Gosh. I knew I loved Alise but this post is SO spot on! I take very serious the verse about not praying in public and have politely declined people’s offers to pray for me over a meal out at restaurants or dining halls because it really feels as if they are making a show rather than talking to God. Thanks Alise!

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Re: “However, when compared with other Scriptures that show people praying in public, we know that this is not an exhortation to always pray alone.”

    Not correct. It’s true Jesus said some other things about praying, including delivering the Lord’s Prayer (in v. 9-13), but among the things he does say, he made a simple, definitive statement: “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Mt 6:6) That sentence is not contradicted by anything else he said … either in the rest of Mt 6 or in the course of the entire Sermon on the Mount (of which it’s part).

    In another comment on a different post here, I discussed the opening verses of Mt 6, including a key phrase in its original Greek. You might want to look at that in order to understand that Jesus’ admonition to Christians to go into their inner rooms to pray is both specific and generalized; that is, it specifically tells them how they’re to pray, and it applies generally to all the times and ways they pray.

    Christians have done a lot of semantic dancing trying to get around Mt 6:6 but its meaning is unavoidable and clear. They should just grow up and obey their own Jesus, fercryinoutloud.

    Re: “Public prayer should be God-honoring, selfless, and based in a true desire to speak to God and not to men.”

    If you read Mt 6, then you should understand why Jesus said that praying in public makes this impossible. That’s why in Mt 6:6 he told his followers always to go into their inner room to pray. If you agree with him that prayers shouldn’t be self-aggrandizing, then why won’t you do what he told you to do, in order to avoid any possibility of happening?

  • nakedanthropologist

    Agreed – when I was a Christian, public prayer always made me uncomfortable. It felt presumptuous, you know? I had Jewish and Hindu friends, and my parents were always very open with me about religious and cultural differences (plus, I was raised Catholic but had cousins who were [gasp] protestant[!]) and I knew we didn’t have the same prayers, rituals, or gods. Making a big deal of my religion was disrespectful, or at least, that’s what my parents taught. Anyways, I love your blog Kim!

  • Ibis3

    And that it wasn’t even the same language as Jesus would have spoken.

  • Gordon Duffy

    This article is a guest post by a christian.

  • Kodie

    God is the king of the ass-hats.

  • Randay

    Why did they supposedly write in parables in the first place, if parables they are, and not straight forward language? If parables, they are not even as sound as the parables of the Oracle of Delphi. They are certainly not as clever and entertaining. Furthermore, at least we know Delphi exists and there was probably priestesses who lived there and gave advice or oracles.

  • Randay

    Don’t forget his using special powers to drive the evil spirits out of someone and send them into a herd of pigs which caused the pigs to run over a cliff killing themselves and supposedly the evil spirits. I would have like to have seen that one.

  • Randay

    As Ambrose Bierce wrote in his “Devil’s Dictionary”, “Christian, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.”

    The book is online.

  • Randay

    Who is scared? Not atheist me. I try to enjoy this one and only life we have while Xians live theirs in paranoia of an imaginary psychopath and mass murderer. Boredom is not necessarily a bad thing, it can give to time to rest and think, but for Xians it is just blindly following rites and rituals with no meaning.

  • Michael W Busch

    Parables are approximately one-third of the teachings attributed to Jesus in the canonical biblical texts, and many of them are explicitly labeled as such.

    Parables are a very common literary technique, casting some point in the form of a fictional memorable story with some analogous structure. In particular, they show up a lot in pre-Christian texts (Greek, Jewish, and others) from the areas where the texts that were later compiled into the Bible were written. So the authors were drawing from the writing/public speaking styles they were familiar with and then adding material of their own invention.

  • litesp33d

    Going on line to look at a thesaurus to find a word that is an antonym and then coming up with a synonym just demonstrates WallofSleep’s point.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    So you’re just trolling and desperate for attention. Good job. Fine representative of the military you are.

  • thexdiamond

    Although the majority of the population may be religious, it does not mean that religion holds the majority voice/popular public opinion. It absolutely takes courage to speak as a Christian, since the modern day media work so hard to suppress that voice.

    As things stand, it is easier to publicly out oneself as a homosexual, if we are speaking about having public support, because the media agenda has made that possible, whereas claiming oneself to be a Christian and pronouncing Christian views has developed negative connotations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.romine Michael Romine

    Hey friend, followed you here because your a douche.And your stupid. Acceptance of homosexuals is in direct proportion to the growing abhorrence people have to Christians, who bigotry is a way of life. And you spout that the poor Christians are victims and are courageous when they speak out. How disgusting.

  • skinnercitycyclist

    If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

  • skinnercitycyclist

    Something I always wondered about alla them hawgs: were they there just so Jesus could find a ready receptacle for demons? Were Jews of the first century CE enjoying pork chops and bacon because they knew they would be going out of style? Or were the pigs part of the local dairy industry? Also, did Jesus offer compensation to the farmer for the loss of his pigs, or was it just written off as…an act of God?

  • skinnercitycyclist

    Yeah, where’d the “cherry tree” come from? ;-)

  • skinnercitycyclist

    Does this hat make my ass look like God?

  • skinnercitycyclist

    You are right, thexdiamond. I, too, yearn for the day when Christians will be able to freely practice and proclaim their faith, even in hotbeds of atheism like South Carolina. Who knows, maybe someday we will have a president who outs himself as a Christian, and political candidates will be able to make statements of faith without fear of losing an election, their jobs, their families. You speak only the unvarnished truth when you say “it is easier to publicly out oneself as a homosexual, if we are speaking about having public support.” If Costner had torn up his speech and revealed to his assembled classmates, family, and community that he was gay, the public approval from that community would have been way warmer than the approval he won with the “Our Father.” Thanks for pointing out this important truth.