Salutorian Puts Jesus in His Graduation Speech, In Spite of School Censorship

Salutorian Puts Jesus in His Graduation Speech, In Spite of School Censorship June 23, 2014

Brooks Hamby’s high school graduation speech got kicked back three times. The reason? He persisted in talking about his faith.

Evidently, Mr Hamby eventually submitted a draft that was approved. But it turned out the censorship was all for naught. When I watched the video below, it sounded to me like Mr Hamby gave the first couple of lines from his approved speech, then shifted to remarks the administration knew nothing about.

“I presented three drafts of my speech,” he said, “all of them denied on account of my desire to share with you my personal thoughts and inspiration to you: My faith in Jesus Christ.”

You can hear a murmur from the crowd and sense consternation on the dais behind him as he continued.

Rumors have evidently circulated that the school denied Mr Hamby his diploma, but according to an interview he gave the Desert News, this is not true. But he did say that the school and their attorney’s told him they would shut off the microphone if he gave a speech mentioning Jesus.

Here is the text of the letter the school district sent him before he gave his speech. This letter is a lot of force to bring down on a graduating high school senior. I think Mr Hamby showed remarkable courage. How many of us would have the guts to do the same?

Based on District legal counsel opinion referencing two 9th Circuit Appellate Court cases, any aspect of a graduation speech that makes reference to Jesus and prayer is inappropriate and violates prevailing legal standards. The first and second draft speeches proposed oppose government case law and are a violation of the constitution. The District is advising you that reference to religious content is inappropriate and that the two drafts provided will not be allowed. If you choose to move forward with a differentiated speech that interjects religious content, the sound will be cut off, and a disclaimer to the entire audience must be made explaining the District’s position.

For more details, check out the Desert News.

Here is the video:


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9 responses to “Salutorian Puts Jesus in His Graduation Speech, In Spite of School Censorship”

  1. Personally, I wouldn’t have the guts to defy an order from an appellate court. It’s breaking the law, plain and simple.

    Perhaps a better course to take would be to become a lawyer and dedicate his practice to changing the separation of church and state laws or to become a pastor and build a congregation that demonstrates against a secular US government.

  2. One thing I do in my own mind to keep myself fair and honest is “Change the Labels.” I ask myself if my opinions or reactions would be the same if the labels were switched.

    So, let’s say this was your child’s public high school graduation, the most important day of your child’s school career to date. Your entire family is there to witness this day. The valedictorian, after being told to be inclusive, throws away his prepared remarks and gives a speech on the evils of religion, describes religious followers as unintelligent, and admonishes all graduates to set aside their religion and become an atheist like the speaker. He singles out catholic beliefs as especially bad.

    Would you praise this valedictorian? Would you call him courageous?

    I’m an atheist, and if a fellow atheist behaved that way, I would call him arrogant and cowardly. Even if I agreed with some or all of what he said, I would be appalled that he would usurp the graduation ceremony that belongs to everyone to push a private agenda.

    Likewise, I believe the christian valedictorian in this situation was wrong.

  3. Their attempt to pretend the Law is on their side is a load of pig dung. He is a student, not staff, and he is free to speak as he will when it’s not shouting Fire! in a crowded auditorium. And frankly I’m glad he let the audience know what these chicken hawks were pulling. He may have youth on his side, in not fearing them. But whether youth or simple moral clarity, he did the right thing. As long as people like these can intimidate behind the scenes, they will win where they do not actually have a leg to stand on, thanks to ignorance and fear. God watch over this kid and his family, tho. Such people are vindictive little tyrants.

  4. I’m going to allow this, but frankly Lark, I’m getting tired of these chestnuts.

    I know this won’t matter, but the student in question did not attack anyone else’s faith, or anyone else, period.

  5. You do know you are talking about a graduating high school senior, don’t you Linda. You’re shooting a butterfly with a cannon here.

  6. He’s not too young to respect the law and the authorities in his school. He was told 4 times not to do what he did. He’s being a rebel, justifying it via his religion.

  7. I think he was standing up for what he believed. The whole point of his speech was that sometimes you have to do that. I agree with what he did Linda. I hope that his number multiplies.

  8. Not taking this story lightly, but if the audience was a typical graduation one, and most folks were only waiting to see their child get their “paper” , I would guess that most of them weren’t even listening to any of the speeches. If they were listening, they will not remember them. I know I have no idea what was said at either my HS graduation or college graduation. The murmur heard was probably a small group from the audience that were actually listening and the folks behind him on the stage. I don’t agree with him not acting according to the rules and a public high school graduation doesn’t seem to be a place to express one’s religious beliefs.

  9. What if I’m not morally relative and don’t ‘label’ all speech equivalent in value?