South Carolina Stands For Religious Liberty

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This video of a high school kid tearing up his approved valedictorian speech and proclaiming his Christian faith instead–then defying the atheist bullies by reciting the Lord’s Prayer in public has gone viral.

Proud to say that this took place not only here in upstate South Carolina within my parish. Liberty High School in Pickens is just down the road.

I liked the kid’s one liner: “We celebrate freedom of religion–not freedom from religion.” This was a direct reference to the attacks the school community has been suffering from the aggressively atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation. Their spokesman complained,

“The valedictorian who so insensitively inflicted Christian prayer on a captive audience at a secular graduation ceremony, is a product of a school district which itself set an unconstitutional example by hosting school board prayer,”

This is typical of the whining, passive aggressive stance of the atheist left. They play the victim and complain and whine and go all hurt… then they threaten lawsuits and get nasty.

  • Rationalist1

    Should we have Muslim students, Buddhist students, Jewish students doing the same. If the school follows the practice of the person with the top grade gets to give the valedictorian speech then it be an extra incentive to study and do well. I assume no Christian would object to a prayer of the winning student’s religion.

    Just don’t wear a feather in you cap however. That’s not allowed ( )

    • vox borealis

      As a devout Catholic, it wouldn’t have bothered me one bit; I certainly would not object.

      • Rationalist1

        That’s good to hear. With the growth on non belief among the young maybe next time the valedictorian will read a selection from Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. I used to think it was wrong to use public events like this as a forum to parade one’s religious or non religious views but I’ll admit I may be wrong.

        • JL

          If they know any logic, they won’t. Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ arguments are utterly laughable, as any serious philosopher knows.

          • Rationalist1
          • frdlongenecker

            Do you mean most living philosophers or most philosophers? If you count all philosophers the atheists would be in the minority

          • Rationalist1

            One can’t really poll dead philosophers and only live philosophers can supposedly laugh at Dawkins and Hitchens.. Certainly over time, most philosophers would be believers of some. But in modern times, most philosophers are atheists.

          • frdlongenecker

            So then “most philosophers” are believers.

          • Rationalist1

            And by that reasoning, most Catholic clergy and religious don’t believe in the atomic theory.

          • Rationalist1

            The majority of philosophers who are able to laugh are atheists.

  • SG

    I completely support this student and his right to exercise his faith! My only thought about this is … would people be so supportive if he had gotten up there and began with “Allah Akbar”, “Hear O Israel”, or even “Hail Mary”? I am concerned that the Christian community is rallying around this student but would be disgusted/upset/outraged if any of the above were prayed at a public high school graduation ceremony (especially Allah Akbar)…

    • Rationalist1

      I grew up Catholic in a very anti-Catholic area and in grade school were all required to stand and recite the Protestant version of the Lord’s prayer and had teachers who said Catholics were not Christian. In middle school the Baptist principle took the entire public school to the local theatre to watch the cross and the switchblade and local baptist ministers were ready with literature and reading for us to say the Jesus prayer. In high school I had Chick tracts ( ) stuffed in my locker and despite complaining to the principle nothing was done.

      I survived it of course, much worse has happened to other people, but can’t we agree to allow public schools to be a religiously neutral zone. One shouldn’t have to have it happen to you to have you realize what the minority feels like in these situations.

      • vox borealis

        In what possible way are the situations and experiences you describe comparable to a speaker, in this case the valedictorian, asked to give a speech of his own composition, and saying a prayer? Seriously? We’ve gotten to this point where a kid, a student, invited to speak and acting on his own, saying the Our Father at graduation is comparable in scope and suitability to the principle taking the entire class to a religiously themed movie or, worse, the teachers *requiring* students to pray?

  • CaroG87

    Liberty High is actually in Liberty, not Pickens…. (Proud LHS grad myself). And I’ve known his maternal family for years and his dad since the wedding. They are all people of amazingly strong faith.

  • Eric Boyer

    See rationalists comments, but yes, how “Courageous and laudable” would the student have been if he shouted Allah Ahkbar, and started reading from the Koran?

  • Eric Boyer

    or what if he did it in Spanish?

  • Jessica

    This is so wrong and exactly what is wrong with America !! How do you think non-Christians would feel if they were sitting in the audience? (I doubt there were any though). Prayer and religion belongs in the home and your place of worship or silently in your mind. Not in PUBLIC school systems. So glad I live in NYC.

    • vox borealis

      Why should a non-Christian care? If I lived in, say, a predominantly Jewish area, and the valedictorian at the local high school in *his* or *her* speech talked about influences on his/her life, mentioning his Jewish faith, and proceeded to recite a Jewish prayer or the like—and if the predominantly Jewish audience responded enthusiastically—I would not be bothered one bit sitting there. Why should I care? Indeed, isn’t this part of the diversity we all are supposed to embrace?

      This is no the public school system supporting one religion or another. This is not an attempt by the state to teach or foster religion. This is, rather, the school giving forum to an individual to make a speech, and that individual expressed himself and exercised his first amendment right (which most certainly does not limit religion to places of worship, the home, or one’s mind).

      If the school doesn’t like this sort of thing, they should eliminate valedictorian speeches. That is preferable to censoring them or forcing the student not to mention religion or, even, say a prayer.

    • Jack

      Religion belongs in the public square because the existence of God, the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the fact that he established the Catholic Church is provable by Reason.

      It is therefore the duty of the State to bend the knee to the Church and whilst non-catholic religions may be tolerated, the Catholic Church should be given special preference by the State in all things.

      • MainlineP

        One hopes this is your attempt at droll sarcasm. Otherwise the opinion indicates my fellow Protestants were not bigots (as labeled by RC apologists and atheists of the left alike) when we warned of Catholic hegemony, triumphalism, ultramontanism and disrespect for the First Amendment and our Constitution.

  • AnneG

    Why are the complaints about the “feelings” of those in the audience? I suspect the same folks would be tutt-tutting about us racist southerners if the student had said, “Allahu Akbar!”
    There still is such a thing as free speech even if it gets under your sensitive New York or atheist skin. Deal with it. And good for the grad.

  • Zeke

    You know what’s nastier than whining about schools snubbing their nose at the law and the constitution under the guise of standing up for religious liberty? This:

  • Elizabeth Schneider

    I thank God for people who are willing to stand up for what they believe. I will add this valedictorian to my prayer list.

    I think it is reverse discrimination for an atheist group to stop others from praying. An Atheist group may feel discrimination against their beliefs but how is it not discrimination when I am told I can not pray at a public event?

    It boggles my mind that the U.S. Congress has a Chaplain pray at the start of a new session, yet the general public at state school football games and graduations are restricted from praying. I understand that the U.S. Congress are exempt from these rules. Does this make any sense?

    With the state of our country now, with the scandals and the abortions, I believe we need to pray daily for our country and our leaders.

  • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

    One of the tragedies in cases like this is that it is almost never that it is a Catholic who sticks up for Christ and rocks the secular boat. In fact, if blogs and comments on the internet are any indication, Catholics must be given an award for being masters at groveling and bootlicking to state power while frequently showing anger at other Christians for having a backbone.
    In fact, it is now apparent that leftist-Obama supporters in the federal government so interfered with the last election through the IRS that a case can be made that the morally more conservative Romney should be our president. But most Catholics apparently go along with the government dictating that traditional ideals are “politics” but anti-traditional ideals are not and rate tax exemptions. Many of the Democrats on the subcommittee hearing testimony on the sins of the IRS were a total disgrace–even telling the IRS victims that they wouldn’t have been abused if they had just shut up and not applied for exemptions that other groups easily got.

  • Guest

    In Liberty, had a Catholic kid did this, the reaction would not have been as boisterous. I understand your support Fr., but trust me, as a Catholic in Pickens County, I’ve had my share of cutdowns, being told I was “not saved”, etc, etc. I guess Andy Warhol was right.

  • PN

    I love the statement “We celebrate freedom of religion–not freedom from religion” for being so terribly wrong. The text of the first amendment, from which this freedom arises, reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Citizens are free to practice their religious beliefs on their own time. The government (at all levels, via the 14th amendment) may not single out and uphold any religion whatsoever, especially at government funded, sponsored, and controlled events. The school has violated the constitution in not attempting to stop this student’s unauthorized statement. If he had instead lead the crowd in the Lord’s prayer outside the auditorium, that would be a substantially different story – he would be exercising his right to free speech. However, his statements as an official speaker at an official government event put his speech under the heading of government speech, with all the limitations that imposes, as per our first amendment.