Valedictorian Rips Up Approved Speech, Recites Lord’s Prayer, Instead

Bible and chains the evanglical fellowship of canada 121109 article We’re all going to have to start doing things like this.  it’s not a question of forcing someone else to follow our Lord Jesus. It’s whether or not we will allow others to stop us from following Him.

The story began when the American Civil Liberties Union managed to find time in their heavy schedule of advocating for abortion, polygamy, gay marriage and euthanasia to send threatening letters to every school district in South Carolina, warning them of possible lawsuits if they were caught praying in public. The illustrious Freedom From Religion Foundation cranked up their word processor up in Wisconsin and followed through with threats of their own.

The Pickens Country School District, which is in South Carolina, responded to these threats by ending all invocations at all school functions. They replaced the prayer at graduation exercises with a moment of silence.

Pickins County high school valedictorian Roy Costner IV dutifully wrote a secular valedictory speech, which was approved before the graduation exercises by school officials.

He began his valedictory remarks by starting to deliver the approved speech. But a few minutes into it, he tore the speech up and made extemporaneous remarks, praising his parents for teaching him his religious faith and concluding by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Vineoflife.netdescribes it this way:

“Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today,” he said. “I’m so glad that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age.”
“And I think most of you will understand when I say…” he continued, surprising the crowd with what came next.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” Costner declared. “Thy Kingdom come…”

As attendees realized that Costner was reciting the Lord’s Prayer, applause began to break out in the colliseum. Within seconds, the applause was accompanied by loud cheers.

“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” he continued. “For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

The crowd again broke into cheers and applause as Costner concluded, and one faculty member sat smiling behind him.

“I think it took a lot of courage to do that,” attendee Logan Gibson told reporters. “People were supportive that he stood up for what he believed in.”

(Pickens County School District spokesman John) Eby said that the district will not be taking any action against Costner.

“The bottom line is, we’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths,” he stated. “He’s a graduate now. There’s nothing we can do about it, even if we wanted to.”

I think it’s time for Christians everywhere in this country to consider doing things like this. These bullying organizations can threaten to sue individual school districts and other entities. But there are at least 180 million practicing Christians in this country who attend church on a regular basis. They can’t sue all of us.

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Mind you, I am not in any way advocating that we try to force anyone to join us. If they don’t believe, that’s their choice. If they are afraid, that’s their fear. But if you believe in Jesus and you’ve got the guts to say so, then do say so. You may get some rough treatment for saying it. But don’t be afraid of that. Anyone who reviles you for Jesus’ sake is giving you the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead of being afraid of them, you probably should thank them.

 

http://youtu.be/1nIr4zBz18E

  • Bill S

    Should high school students be taught to respect authority? The school approved what was to be read. Besides, it is rude to pray at a public event knowing that not everyone shares your religious beliefs and some find it offensive. It is not very valedictorian-like. Other than that it is just silly and not a big deal.

    • BrandonUB

      Besides, it is rude to pray at a public event knowing that not everyone
      shares your religious beliefs and some find it offensive.

      This I don’t agree with. I don’t think the appropriateness of the utterance of words should be judged on whether everyone hearing them will approve of them. Tough cookies if someone’s offended, there’s no intrinsic right to not be offended. If a speaker is willing to deal with any potential backlash from someone’s offense, I think it’s fine for them to make that call.

      I do think it’s important to note that a student giving a speech is quite a different type of business than a school actively endorsing some sort of prayer. An individual student doesn’t represent the government, he represents himself.

      • Bill S

        “Tough cookies if someone’s offended, there’s no intrinsic right to not be offended.”

        This is true, Brandon. That’s why I just think he has been silly and rude. It’s not a big deal. It’s like eating with your elbows on the table or something. It just shows poor manners.

        • BrandonUB

          Ah, I’m with you there. I’d be disinclined to offer my idle thoughts about religions in the context of a graduation speech.

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        So, would you be fine with an atheist student tearing up his vetted prepared speech and instead giving a “there is no God, go drive religion from society” speech for his valedictory address?

        And while individual students in general don’t represent the government, there are particular cases where they are considered to; you might look up Doe v Silsbee, Corder v. Lewis Palmer, and the reasoning in Cole v. Oroville (“we conclude the District’s plenary control over the graduation ceremony, especially student speech, makes it apparent Niemeyer’s speech would have borne the imprint of the District” — though the controversy was eventually held moot). Contrariwise, the SCOTUS do not seem to have given a definitive pronouncement on the issue.

        • hamiltonr

          I don’t think they young man in this instance made a speech about “driving” any group of people from society. What he did was recite the Lord’s Prayer, which says, among other things, “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”

          That’s a far cry from the type of speech you are describing. What you describe is precisely the type of language the public atheists engage in and what appears to be their goal: To drive religious people, Christians in particular, from society.

          Having said that, free speech belongs to everyone, including atheists. I am not aware of any lawsuits by Christians trying to silence atheist free speech, and that is despite the fact that atheist free speech, at least on atheist blogs and in their most popular books, takes the form of Christian-bashing hate speech. It’s all the other way around, with atheists constantly trying to silence us.

        • BrandonUB

          So, would you be fine with an atheist student tearing up his vetted
          prepared speech and instead giving a “there is no God, go drive religion
          from society” speech for his valedictory address?

          I’d question the value of such a speech in the same way that I question that value of this one, but I’d prefer that people have the power to give it if they like.

          I think the cases you cite indicate that the endorsement of the school is problematic because they have the power to stop a given speech. If they didn’t, there wouldn’t really be a problem. I can see why that’s a dicey proposition for schools, but I’d be more inclined to let a valedictorian talk as they please for a few minutes than to try to keep them as milquetoast as possible.

    • tedseeber

      “Other than that it is just silly and not a big deal.”

      Then why make it out to be a big deal?

  • BrandonUB

    Submitting one speech and giving another is lying. Anyway you slice it, the young man in question lied. Whether I approve of the content of his speech is largely irrelevant, I don’t approve of lying to get one’s way.

    • hamiltonr

      I don’t think we have sufficient information to make that assumption. Lying requires intent. We have no way of knowing if this action was planned or spontaneous. Also, lying requires a lack of coercion. If you hold a gun to my head and demand that I tell you that you are a handsome man, believe me, I will tell you that you are a handsome man, even if you look like Godzilla. I wouldn’t and don’t consider that a lie. There was certainly an element of coercion — on several levels — involved in this particular scenario.

      I’m more the in-you-face type myself. But I have zero moral problems with what this young man did. In fact, I applaud it. Even if he lied, (and I find that contention dubious) I’ve told lies myself for far less reason. I imagine you have too. We are all sinners, Brandon; every single one of us. Some of us are just brave and have the courage of our convictions despite that inherent weakness.

      • BrandonUB

        I don’t see any coercion here. A student doesn’t have to give a speech, but if he wants to give a speech, he has to follow certain prescriptive rules. Personally, I don’t agree at all with a rule that prohibits a student from uttering a prayer in this context, as it seems to be a free speech issue to me (possibly free practice as well, but speech is an easier case to make). But I’m sure most people would agree some rules regarding content are fine and that it’s not OK to simply ignore rules that one’s agreed to on the basis of not liking those rules.

        On the topic of intent, I think it’s pretty plain what the intent is here, even if it was done on the spur of the moment. If I tell someone I’m going to do one thing, then decide to do another, even if it’s a snap decision, I have lied to them. There are some defensible lies, but I have a tough time seeing how it’s appropriate to lie about the content of a speech that he didn’t have to give.

        That aside, I don’t think it takes even a shred of bravery to break a rule when you more or less know that the bulk of the audience likes what you’re saying and will applaud. This young man’s actions speak more to vanity than bravery.

        • hamiltonr

          Your opinion my friend. It seems everybody has one.

      • Bill S

        “There was certainly an element of coercion — on several levels — involved in this particular scenario.”

        Except that he wasn’t coerced to do it. He was coerced not to do it and he did it anyway. The sad part of this, the part that most people miss, is that this young man has never known anything but Christianity and he thinks it is the only true religion when in fact all religions are wrong. Someday, he may find this out and feel like an idiot for what he had done. Which is okay. Nobody died.

    • tedseeber

      One could say that society at large, especially the ACLU and the school administrators who bowed under pressure instead of standing their ground, didn’t deserve the truth.

      • Bill S

        Sort of like when Jim Morrison promised Ed Sullivan that he would remove “girl, we couldn’t get much higher” but then he sang. The Doors were never on Ed’s show again. Mick Jagger changed “Let’s spend the night together” to “Let’s spend some time together” even though he rolled his eyes in mock disgust every time he sang it.

        • tedseeber

          Yep. Exactly.

      • BrandonUB

        I don’t often see people so quick to advocate for lying! That’s a real moral high ground you’ve got there.

        • hamiltonr

          Actually, I’m advocating for taking a stand for Christ instead of running away from atheist bullies.

          I’ve noticed that this particular post is being dive-bombed by quite a few atheist trolls.

          What this young man did kind of scares you, doesn’t it?

          • BrandonUB

            You must define “troll” quite differently than I do. Personally, I don’t define it as someone simply disagreeing with my take on something, or I’d have to consider vast swaths of Patheos to be “trolls’. Instead, I think they’re just people with honest opinions that differ from mine – which is why I read them.

            The idea that I’m scared is kinda silly. Look at my other comments in this thread:

            Personally, I don’t agree at all with a rule that prohibits a student from uttering a prayer in this context, as it seems to be a free speech issue to me (possibly free practice as well, but speech is an easier case to make).

            I don’t think the appropriateness of the utterance of words should be judged on whether everyone hearing them will approve of them.

            Tough cookies if someone’s offended, there’s no intrinsic right to not be offended. If a speaker is willing to deal with any potential backlash from someone’s offense, I think it’s fine for them to make that call.

            My negative critique of the speaker in question is because he lied, and because I think his specific actions speak of petulance and vanity. I think he should have every right to make a spectacle of himself though.

            • hamiltonr

              I deleted the trolls. You weren’t deleted.

              • BrandonUB

                Fair enough, sorry about the misinterpreting!

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Ha!!! Beautiful. It brought a tear to my eyes. No, I refuse to be pushed around by big brother. Personally this is one of the reasons we need school choice.

  • Maritza

    Outstanding young man! Thanks for sharing and for stopping by my blog and adding me to your circles. Blessings,

  • GeneralMalaiseRB redditor

    Roy Boy never read the Bible verses preceding the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:

    5 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. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    • hamiltonr

      “Whoever shall deny me before men, him also I will deny before my father who is in heaven. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my father who is in heaven.”

      “You will be attacked by many because of me, but those who perservere until the end will be saved.”

      The scripture you are mis-using is talking about hypocrisy, not taking a stand for Christ in the face of opposition.

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        The modern sense of saying one thing while believing another might be part of it, but that’s not the main emphasis of the word here. The Greek “ὑποκριταί” was a term used for stage-actors; that is, someone giving a public performance. The scripture seems more talking about praying as public performance just for the public adulation of being seen to do so, rather than praying because you actually feel the need to talk to God. This is consistent with the theme of Matthew 6, which opens in the first verse with “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them“.

  • Sterling Ericsson

    So long as you are fully fine with anyone else of a different faith doing the same thing themselves or for atheists to read from The God Delusion.

    And yet I somehow feel that you wouldn’t be okay with that. And that is where the hypocrisy is.

    • hamiltonr

      I try never to come between a man and his desire to make a fool of himself in public. If you want to claim Dr Dawkins as your messiah and read from his deathless prose found in that well-reasoned tome, The God Delusion, as your valedictory speech, knock yourself out.

      • Sterling Ericsson

        I am not atheist. I was giving The God Delusion as an example, I have no idea what an atheist would choose to reference when giving a speech.

        But the whole point is that you know full well that if a student of a different faith tried to do the same, the people who supported this Christian Valedictorian doing this would not support someone of a different faith doing it.

        Especially if it was someone who followed Islam.

        • hamiltonr

          I don’t know any such thing. And neither do you. You may think that is what would happen, but you can’t know it.

          As for your examples, first it was Dawkins, now it’s Islam. I assume you are trying to say that the audience was supportive because they shared the beliefs of the speaker. That is simply human nature and has nothing to do with hypocrisy, which was your accusation in the earlier comment,

          Would they applaud and cheer for remarks that they didn’t agree with? Doubtful. I would guess that you wouldn’t be inclined to applaud and cheer remarks you disagreed with, either.

          The issue is freedom of speech, not compulsory applause.

          • Sterling Ericsson

            I can be quite sure that that’s what would happen, considering past incidents regarding the use of other languages and beliefs in school.

            It’s much simpler to just be polite and not include religious beliefs in such a speech anyways. The valedictorian’s speech is meant to address the entire audience of graduates and relate it to them. Making it religious specifically excludes those graduates not of that religion and makes them feel separate from the rest of the group.

            • hamiltonr

              What you are talking about is censorship. If people are never allowed to say anything that someone else has a different idea about, we might as well all tape our mouths shut.

              Also, you’re beginning to go in circles with your reasoning.


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