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June 6th, 2013
10:37 AM ET

With his speech, valedictorian brings God to graduation

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='JRavitzCNN']

(CNN) - Leading up to Saturday’s ceremony, Roy Costner IV prayed on what he was going to do. Liberty High School’s 2013 valedictorian would soon find himself in front of a microphone. He’d have a pulpit from which he could address his small community tucked away in South Carolina’s mountainous corner.

Only his father and pastor knew what was weighing on his heart and mind. Could he, should he, insert a prayer in his pre-approved graduation speech? He’d been told by the school principal that talk of religion wasn’t allowed, and so far he’d followed the rules.

But as the day approached, the 18-year-old couldn’t deny what he felt he needed to do.

“I wanted to stand up for God,” he explained Wednesday. “This is what God wanted me to do.”

So Costner, in cap and gown, stood behind the podium and ripped up his original speech. Before he gave shout-outs to coaches, cheerleaders and friends, there was something else he wanted to say.

“One thing I am certain of is we’re all a sum of our experiences, both good and bad,” he told his fellow graduates, a class of about 150. “All in all, those experiences, the people who mentored us, that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today. I’m so thankful 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, ‘Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …”

The crowd before him began to cheer as he recited the Lord’s Prayer, drowning out a few verses. The school principal, sitting behind him, appeared uncomfortable and peered down at papers on her lap. The school district’s superintendent, a few seats over, couldn’t help but smile.

“I was tearing up,” Costner said, remembering the moment. “I was overwhelmed by the response. … The clapping was so loud I couldn’t hear myself talking into the microphone.”

His father told CNN's Piers Morgan on Thursday night he was overwhelmed with pride for his son. The younger Costner approached his dad a few days before the speech and showed him what he wanted to do.

"I said, 'Look, if you're doing this for political reasons, don't. But if you're doing it because you feel led to do it and you feel this is a part of your speech, then I want you to do it and I'll stand by you,' " Roy Costner III said.

Some who were there heaped on praise when talking to CNN affiliate WYFF. One called it “pretty impressive.” Another student said it “took a lot of courage” and that “people were proud that he stood up for what he believed in.”

What he believes is that Liberty, a town with three stoplights and a population of 3,000, “fully supports prayer.”

He also believes that organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wisconsin, group dedicated to maintaining separation of church and state, should stop meddling in the affairs of the Pickens County School District. The foundation, over this past school year, has leaned on the district to keep Jesus and student-led prayers out of school board meetings.

Other concerns went beyond board meetings. This spring, the foundation’s staff attorney sent a lawyer representing the district a letter about complaints of alleged discriminatory hiring and religious promotion in another county high school and praise music being played in an elementary school classroom. The foundation said it learned of such practices by way of community members who are, in fact, not fully supporting prayer.

Costner said he set out to make a statement, one he hopes will inspire others to stand up, too, for what he sees as the good of this country.

“Taking prayer out of schools is the worst thing we could do,” he said.

If Costner went to a Christian school, there would be no discussion, said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. But in public schools, even in a place where there may be a religious majority, prayers such as his are clearly unconstitutional, she said. What’s more, she added, what he did shows contempt for school district policy and a lack of sensitivity for his audience.

“It’s aggressive. It’s supremely rude,” she said. “This student is old enough to know that not everyone in the audience is Christian.”

But Costner, who was bouncing between interviews and heading to New York for TV appearances, said he counts atheists among his friends. He said that even though he doesn’t agree with their beliefs, he respects them – and that they do the same for him.

The elder Costner said his son had been inundated with messages of support, even from atheists.

He said he thinks the video of the speech resonated with people across the country because many people "really want something to hold onto for hope."

The son said he’s experienced no blowback from the district for what he did. And a district spokesman suggested Costner won’t.

“He’s a graduate now, so there’s nothing we can do about it even if we wanted to,” John Eby told WYFF. “But the bottom line is we’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths.”

The district, Eby explained to CNN Friday morning, is in a “nearly impossible position.” He said federal law, under the Establishment Clause, is clear that public schools cannot “approve in advance a student’s prayer” or “carve out time specifically for religious expression.” But, under the Free Exercise Clause, he added, “we can’t punish students who do pray.”

Gaylor doesn’t expect there to be any punishment. But without issuing some sort of statement expressing disappointment and reiterating school policy, she said, the district is making a mistake.

“It’s one thing if a school doesn’t have a policy,” she said. “But when they do, they really need to enforce their policy because otherwise it’s just a wink and a nod.”

Eby has an answer to this.

“I do want to reiterate that we don’t approve rule breaking,” he said. “But we are very serious about protecting our students’ rights to express themselves religiously – or refuse to.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (5,383 Responses)
  1. Honey Badger Don't Care

    They need to take away his diploma until that he can prove that he is mentally stable.

    June 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Ei inc umbit probatio qui d icit, non qui negat

      June 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • lol??

      Honeypot, that sounds so Siberian.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      You’re speaking gibberish again Bill, just like when you quote bible verses.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • lol??

      You really bought the hot dogs from that Frankfurt School.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      You're being more W T F than LOL.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      It says the proof is required by he who states, not he who defends. It's the fundamental tenet of the presumption of innocence. It is the idea you will have to invalidate before you can convict Christians of mental illness and "hospitalize" them

      June 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • derp

      "It says the proof is required by he who states, not he who defends"

      So when christards state that there is a god, it is upon them to prove it?

      The irony is delicious.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      it cuts both ways derp. When HBC accuses someone of mental illness, it's up to her to make the case. Not the other way around.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Bill,

      So what you are saying is that the onus of proof is on the person making the positive claim? Like people who say that a god exists, that they can talk to them and that they answer prayers? There has been no reasonable evidence presented so far for that.

      A person who believes things for which there is no reasonable evidence is delusional.

      Get the point?

      June 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      I'm a he not a she Bill. Amazing what one can do with as sumptions huh?

      June 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin (AKA: Loki)

      I know a Honey Badger... and She Don't Care either... In fact she works down the hall from me... Honey Badger Don't Care and "Thing 2" pictures on her desk.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • derp

      "it cuts both ways derp. When HBC accuses someone of mental illness, it's up to her to make the case. Not the other way around"

      So you are saying that there is no god?

      Or are you saying you are not sure whether there is a god or not?

      Because you have certainly never ever offered a shred of proof of any god.

      By your own logic, you have failed to fulfill "proof is required by he who states".

      Thanks, you have just proven the complete invalidity of anyone who has ever asserted that there is a higher power. I appreciate you backing me up like that.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin (AKA: Loki)

      "I'm a he not a she" nevermind...

      June 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • @chad

      @Bill Deacon

      Ei inc umbit probatio qui d icit, non qui negat

      You don't see the irony here Bill? Really?

      June 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • derp

      Bill Deacon will not reply to this post again.

      He realizes that he has just invalidated every christards assertion that there is a god.

      Nice work Bill.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • derp

      From now on, every single one of Mr. Deacon's posts should be responded to with...

      "Ei inc umbit probatio qui d icit, non qui negat"

      And nothing else.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Science

      Bill to funny ................send that one to the church Bill.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • just a simple question

      Any kid can pray in school if they do it the way Jesus instructed (NOT making a public spectacle of it). You would think every Christian preacher would have noticed this passage. So, when these cult leaders raise a ruckus about allowing their cult followers to make a spectacle of praying, even though Jesus said NOT to... who are they serving? Hmmmmmmmmm?
      I hear crickets......

      June 6, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • been thar

      In the Patriotic Christian community, where sports is worshipped above all other gawwwwds, it is only natural that the cult's sunday gawwwwd would expect cheerleaders to 'stand up for gawwwwwd'. At least the rude brat didn't fire off roman candles and say yeeee hawwwww. See how it works in their (red)-neck-of-the-woods. Been thar.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  2. Hypatia

    I would be interested in what the rest of the class had to say about such manure.

    June 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • No Wondering About It

      Well we sure don't have to wonder what others think about your manure when you stand up to deliver it!

      June 7, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • bczu

      A Native American girl wears a feather in her hair to graduation and she gets her diploma taken away and a 1,000 fine. A kid goes out of his way to break the rules and tear up his speech to talk about HIS god in front of 100's of people and he gets a standing ovation.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  3. JOLEEN

    For we do not have a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

    June 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Colin

      You took Dolly Parton's man, even though she begged you not to. That's not very Christian.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • JOLEEN

      I wish I had been alive when he was here in person. I would love to have seen him. I would have loved to watch him interact with others and as he went about his daily routine. I would have enjoyed watching his eyes as he was asked, who will be the greatest in the kingdom? Lord, won't you tell her to help me? Or, I am not living with any man. You speak the truth. You have had 5 husbands and the one you are living with at the moment is not your husband.

      I would have loved sitting at his feet as part of the crowd who heard him teach that they who mourn shall be comforted, and those who seek righteousness will be filled to overflowing.

      Just to have gazed upon God Himself, with arms and legs and eyes and ears and hair and shoulders and hands.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Joleen

      Something tells me you'd be in for a mighty surprise if you actually did meet jesus. Most likely you would probably become an atheist in 5 seconds flat

      June 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • What IF

      JOLEEN,

      You'd probably be all over Benny Hinn too.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      Joleen honey, sharing your hot flash moments on a public forum is not appropriate, just take the medication, it will pass.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Doobs

      It probably wouldn't be that great if you were a Canaanite woman.

      June 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    that was dumb. now he'll be known for superst.ition instead of education.

    June 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Camus

      Shame on him, I'm sure all the dumb atheists with their 2.0 averages in the crowd are sooo upset.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Rynomite

      Usually the atheists are the valedictorians....

      June 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Camus

      Any evidence to back up that claim Ryno?

      June 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • derp

      "Any evidence to back up that claim Ryno?"

      South carolina has one of lowest ranking public education systems in the country.

      As long as you are not banging your sister, you get to be valedictorian.

      Compare the national education rankings of the bible belt states, versus the heathen atheist ridden northeastern states.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Camus

      Thank you derp for asnwering a question no one asked.

      No one asked which state had the lowest public education system. That's irrelevant to the claim that Ryno made that, "Usually the atheists are the valedictorians".

      If you do not know, a valedictorian is usually someone that has the highest GPA in their class.

      Now again, is there any evidence that atheists are usually the valedictorian or is this just something Ryno said without thinking?

      June 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • derp

      "Shame on him, I'm sure all the dumb atheists with their 2.0 averages in the crowd are sooo upset."

      Care to show your evidence that there is a single atheist, let alone one with a 2.0 GPA in the crowd?

      The research is all over the internet.

      Atheists have higher education levels in the US than christians, have higher IQ's in the US than christians, earn more money than christians, and get tossed in jail less than christians.

      The bible belt is the least educated part of America.

      Maybe you clods should put down your bibles and pick up some textbooks.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      While this may not specify valedictorian, it does show that Atheists have been shown to have higher IQ's.
      "Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. "
      "The study looked at a large sample from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health [Add Health], which began with adolescents in grades 7-12 in the United States during the 1994-95 school year. The participants were interviewed as 18- to 28-year-olds from 2001 to 2002. The study also looked at the General Social Survey, another cross-national data collection source.

      Participants who said they were atheists had an average IQ of 103 in adolescence, while adults who said they were religious averaged 97, the study found. Atheism “allows someone to move forward and speculate on life without any concern for the dogmatic structure of a religion,” Bailey said. “Historically, anything that’s new and different can be seen as a threat in terms of the religious beliefs; almost all religious systems are about permanence,” he noted.

      The study takes the American view of liberal vs. conservative. It defines “liberal” in terms of concern for genetically nonrelated people and support for private resources that help those people. It does not look at other factors that play into American political beliefs, such as abortion, gun control and gay rights. “Liberals are more likely to be concerned about total strangers; conservatives are likely to be concerned with people they associate with,” he said."
      (http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/high_iq_liberal_atheist_monogamous_/)

      So while this may not be looking at University grads, grade 12 is usually the last step before that point.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Camus

      derp, my comment was one of sarcasm. But are you saying that the odds are there wasn't a atheist in the crowd that might have had a 2.0?

      "The research is all over the internet."

      And yet, not one of you can provide any citation.

      "Atheists have higher education levels in the US than christians, have higher IQ's in the US than christians, earn more money than christians, and get tossed in jail less than christians."

      Still no evidence to support this. Lol, the tossed in jail one made me laugh. I am quite certain that asking what one's religious preference is not something our prison system takes into account. Not to mention that making up only 2-5% of the US population..yes, Atheists do not get thrown into prison in the same numbers at Christians.

      "The bible belt is the least educated part of America."

      Again, irrelevant to what Ryno said.

      And you end your rant on guessing. How predictable.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Camus

      Truth Prevails, at least you posted up info with the acknowledgement that it doesn't answer the initial question but still gives good info as to why atheists might make up a fair amount of the valedictorians out there.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Camus, Do you think it a coincidence that scientists have a largest percentage of atheists than the general population?

      June 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • derp
      June 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Camus

      In Santa we trust, I would call into question what scientists say about personal belief. I am quite sure many of them are atheists. I would also gather from the culture that surrounds the sciences that it would be in one's best interest to say they are atheist even when they might not strictly be.

      You mention a poll and the Pew did do one. It said that atheists do NOT make up the majority of scientists.

      Not exactly what we are talking about but here is a nice article: http://news.discovery.com/tech/are-scientists-atheists.htm

      June 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • yew r sew silly

      RE: "As long as you are not banging your sister, you get to be valedictorian."
      Thet iz a gross xaggeration... yer sister haz to bee at leest 13 years old to be "old enough" in SC

      June 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • the true camus

      The real Camus insisted that mans greatest quality is rebellion... that and (loosely translated in engrish) the big man upstairs can pound sand.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Athiest in a Foxhole

      Ask the kid how old is the planet earth.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  5. Colin

    So, we are still turning out college level graduates who believe that a being powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies monitors the prayers and thoughts of all 7 billion human beings, 24 hours a day, and will periodically intervene to alter what would otherwise be the course of history to respond to their wishes.

    Houston, we have a problem.......

    June 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • lol??

      No, weirdo, to His own wishes.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • lol??

      Socies always have a problem with a father's authority. Too many hot dogs from the Frankfurt School.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Colin,

      Does not scripture reveal to its readers that one should "Seek first the kingdom domains of the Gods"? Why is it we all fall down and bicker seemingly endlessly on, fighting over whether God or the Gods are real or not when we should be seeking out the kingdom domains of the Gods? Is it not written scripturally that God is as much flesh and bone as we are? (See Genesis 6:3) Therefore, the Gods do die and are generationally maintained just the same ways our onward march of generationally conceptualized continuations are maintained. They, (The Gods) are as much sexual beings as we are! They live and do die as do all things of life live and do die! Go Figure!

      June 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Colin

      Lol?, lionlylamb – all I need is ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI.TUTION and I'll have the trifector.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Science

      Good one Colin ..............and all the black holes !

      June 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • WASP

      @lol: "No, weirdo, to His own wishes."

      then there is no "free will" because he does as he wishes...............weirdo. 🙂

      June 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Colin

      "Trifector"?

      Maybe a trifecta,,, Me thinks so yes?

      June 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • lol??

      Silly socies believe in the free lunch.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • lol??

      Will is the waiter at the socie Free Lunch Cafe.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      now that one is clever, even for you.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Alias

      @linlylamb
      Did you just cite a bible passage that said there was more thanone god?
      Surely that could not have come from the christian holy book!

      June 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • lol??

      Alias,

      "Psa 97:7 Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all [ye] gods."

      BBBBbbbbbbwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahhahahahaha

      June 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      The power of brainwashing is truly frightening. Still, like most superst.itions it will eventually end up on the trash-heap of history.

      June 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  6. JOLEEN

    He spole like no other man they had ever heard. He spoke with authority and not as the scribes and teachers of the law.

    June 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Who is he? Hitler?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • JOLEEN

      He was convincing. Who is this man that he can forgive sins, religious leaders asked themselves?. Only God may forgive sins. And they conspired against him for they feared the people would follow him.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • JOLEEN

      Some in power had heard of him. They wished to watch him perfrom for them, a miracle of some kind. He didn't. You WILL see the son of man with a host of angels, he added.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Oh...You mean Emporer Hirohito...a living god.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin (AKA: Loki)

      So any Drill Sergeant could have been Jesus? There must have been a lot of pansies back then if that wuss Jesus could get their attention.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Vic

      Jesus Christ Is Lord

      June 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      joleen, get up off your knees and think for yourself. you won't regret it.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      Vic: not to everybody

      June 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • derp

      "He spole like no other man they had ever heard. He spoke with authority and not as the scribes and teachers of the law"

      Ghandi was pretty awesome wasn't he.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Joleen: What meds do they have you on? Those are some weird hallucinations you're having.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • go fer it Joleen

      Joleen, this kid is legal now. Why don't you just 'do' him?

      June 6, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Speaking From the Heart

      Yes Joleen, he did such an Outstanding job and we sincerely offer our heartfelt Congratulations to him for such a worthy act of courage and truth for his belief in God. However, there are those non-Believers who will never understand and the reason is succinctly explained in this Scripture: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." - 1 JOHN 4:4-6 (KJV)

      June 7, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  7. Vic

    We are earthly humans til the end of time; we can never turn into robots or androids!

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/06/hear-what-valedictorian-said-for-cheers/comment-page-1/#comment-2401342

    June 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  8. Brother Maynard

    "As an atheist How were your rights resticted"
    Actually, as an atheist they weren't.
    However, what believers don't understand is that by vehemently and passionately defending the separation of church and state at every turn, we are protecting – yes protecting – their freedom of religion.
    It is easy to allow infringement of the separtion of church and state when this infringement is the religion they agree. I'm sure that Christian believers would have a problem if an individual recited parts of the Koran – espcially the parts that call for jihad.
    I as an atheist have the same disdain for that individual as I do this. Keeping ALL religions out of the state protects believers freedoms.

    June 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • derp

      They are too stupid to understand that complex a idea.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Rishkin

      @derp "that complex AN idea.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      ... just as a side bar
      It turns my stomach when I see President Obama lead a prayer at speeches. Why? because it is at a state function. I have no problem with him going to church or praying in private, but prayer at state functions is clearly favoriting one relgion over another, and is wrong.
      Oh yea, and I voted for him twice
      Oh yea ( again ), I have the same disdain when John Boehner does this.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • A Conversation

      Derp...we all know it was a typo. But nonetheless, it was poetic justice.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Maynard, I was praying this morning in gratiitude for all atheists who show me that my God is loving and accepting of all his creatures, even those who refuse to acknowledge Him.

      Oh, and it also turns my stomach when I see Obama.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • @chad

      @Bill
      Oh, and it also turns my stomach when I see Obama.

      Keep going Bill, you're so close to revealing the inner you.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Rainman

      BD, not as much as other stomachs turn when the latest Vicar of Christ on Earth and his minions flaunt their wealth and power; Christian followers of the teachings of Christ my ass. Hypocrites including you Billy.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • derp

      "Oh, and it also turns my stomach when I see Obama"

      But your eyes go all aflutter when you see the man responsible for the worlds largest cover up of systematic child s e x assault.

      Catholic values!

      June 6, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry we don't have time to discuss the following folks, we've got 11,000 some odd abuse cases since 1950 to pound on:

      Benghazi
      IRS
      Fast and Furious
      AP
      Voter Fraud
      Acorn
      Obamacare fiasco
      George Soros
      Susan Rice (really?)
      Solyndra et. al.
      Presidential hit list (Americans included)

      June 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • derp

      Benghazi
      "IRS
      Fast and Furious
      AP
      Voter Fraud
      Acorn
      Obamacare fiasco
      George Soros
      Susan Rice (really?)
      Solyndra et. al.
      Presidential hit list (Americans included)"

      You really believe that somehow those things are worse than the systematic abuse, and abuse cover up of THOUSANDS of children.

      Wow, just....wow.

      I had no idea how morally bankrupt the catholic church had become.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Bill

      Benghazi – Non-event blown out of proportion by GOP
      IRS – Event that doesn't was out of Obama's hands.
      Fast and Furious – Yeah, that was pretty bad
      AP – Eric Holders problem
      Voter Fraud – Refresh my memory? What is this?
      Acorn – As later revealed it was a complete hoax by the GOP
      Obamacare fiasco – Not a fiasco
      George Soros – What about him?
      Susan Rice (really?) – Yeah, really, what about her?
      Solyndra et. al. – One of the many companies that Obama bet on and it failed. Sh.it happens, but that's not Obama's fault and you seem to be conveniently forgetting all the other companies Obama has invested in that have succeeded
      Presidential hit list (Americans included) – Of known terrorists... you forgot that part. Not am I thrilled that he can kill anyone with impugnity, no, then again this seems like something a liberal like myself would have bigger issues with than someone like you. I guess you want terrorists to live?

      Nice try on shifting the years of child abuse that lay at the churches feet in favor of foxes favorite talking points. Kudos!

      June 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Maynard, I was praying this morning in gratiitude for all atheists who show me that my God is loving and accepting of all his creature"

      Yet this omniscient god allows those who HE KNOWS will not accept jeebus as a savior to be born, thereby sentencing them to eternal torture

      Real nice guy.

      June 6, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  9. AverageJoe76

    I was drinking a beer looking up at a clear night's sky. For me, that's church. Feeling the wind against my face, or the glow of that nuclear reactor 93 million miles away. That's my 'church'.

    June 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      OK well, at least you answered the question regarding diligence.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      AverageJoe sez:
      "I was drinking a beer looking up at a clear night's sky"
      Uh .. hmmm .. I think that would depend on the beer
      🙂

      June 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Average
      If you feel the glow of the sun at night, you may want to check where it is really coming from...it isn't the sun.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @ Richard Cranium – You should read more carefully.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • G to the T

      Nope – I'm confused too. What "nuclear reactor" are you referring to?

      June 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Lars

      I might just have to do that today. The next nuclear reactor is conveniently just over the Øresund strait to Sweden, so I'll expect a warm sea breeze.

      TGIF, I guess?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  10. Terminal Religion

    Not really surprised, I mean, this is Pickens County, South Carolina.

    June 6, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • oOo

      document.getElementById('Like_Button').click();

      June 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  11. Lucifer's Evil Twin (AKA: Loki)

    A Vikings Prayer
    Lo there do I see my father, lo there do I see my mother my sisters and my brothers, Lo there to I see the line of my people back to the begining. Lo they do call to me, they bid me take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla where the brave may live forever.

    June 6, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  12. derp

    I would have immediately started heckling him. If you want to break the rules and start spouting your tooth fairy garbage at my kids graduation, I'll gladly break the rules heckle your silly rear end until you stop.

    June 6, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Terminal Religion

      How do we know the supposed "clapping" was not heckling as the student interviewed said you couldn't hear the prayer anymore after he started the prayer.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Chuckles

      @derp

      My thoughts exactly. He wants to run his mouth, then any non christian should have equal opportunity to point out why what he believes is moronic. If folks would rather that not happen, then maybe he should stick to his previous speech.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Rocket

      You believe in the tooth fairy

      June 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • derp

      "You believe in the tooth fairy"

      There is more evidence that the tooth fairy exists than there is that god exists.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Alias

      Context is important here people.
      I DO believe in a Tooth Fairy. Every time my child loses a tooth I have to pay $1.
      I know it exists.

      I won't get started on Santa.

      June 6, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  13. Dyslexic doG

    I am a proud Atheist and I say well done on your graduation and good luck in your future life. You showed a wonderful spirit of rebellion against the rules to do what you believe. That is a good trait. I don't think anyone of any belief was hurt by you doing this. It's the deep south after all. We're surrounded by Christianity here.

    My only wish for you is that you manage to break free of the cult at some time in your later life and go on to really comprehend the wonder of fact and science and the reality of the universe.

    June 6, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Science

      You know the inquisition all over again.................lmao !

      Oldest Primate Fossil Skeleton Found In China

      Seth Borenstein, Associated Press | Jun. 5, 2013, 2:14 PM

      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/oldest-primate-fossil-skeleton-found-in-china-2013-6#ixzz2VS35T5QS

      June 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  14. catholic engineer

    This student tore up an "approved" speech. He rejected thought engineering. He refused to think what secularists told him to think.

    June 6, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      I predict he'll have the courage to leave the bubble and break free of the cult some time in his 20's.

      Good luck to him.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      He instead reverted to his earlier indoctrination, still spouting thought-control propaganda.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      For once I agree with you.
      These are the thought of the perosn who earnedhis time on the podium. Just like presidents are free to express their beliefs in their speeches, he should be free to express his.
      I wonder though, if he was a satanist, or muslim or hindu or any of the many religions that christianity can't seem to tolerate, would he have the same support?

      He didn't violate any rule that should be in place. There should be no reason that anyone should have to approve his speech. He should be free to say anything he wants, though he might find some backlash from people who disagree.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Chuckles

      @CE

      First, thought engineering?

      Second, I can applaud someone for refusing to goosestep if they truly believe it's wrong, but there's a difference between that and what this student did. This is apropos to what happened with the first lady a couple of days ago with a heckler who wanted Michelle to urge Barak to sign an executive order for gay rights. I'm a proud supporter of gay rights and it would be a huge move for an executive order to get passed, but what this heckler did was entirely inappropriate, rude and if anything, hurt more than it helped.

      What this young man did was make a choice that he wanted to do his own speech and by doing so spit in the face of the administration that wanted to help him, his fellow students who aren't christians and rules in general he feels he doesn't need to comply with. If this guy wants to be be a good little christian and pray to his god, fine, but to do so just to be rebellious is not something that should be cheered for.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Terminal Religion

      Christian dirty minds could use a good wash.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "I wonder though, if he was a satanist, or muslim or hindu or any of the many religions that christianity can't seem to tolerate, would he have the same support?"

      I admire his spirit of protest. Otherwise 'meh'. I also have to wonder if he started off with "Allahu akbar" rather than 'The Lord's Prayer', would the crowd have been so pleased and would this little protest be discussed in the same light.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      When a muslim or satanist becomes valediictorian, I guess we'll find out.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Bill, you honestly think no student other than Christians have ever been valedictorian ?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • derp

      "He should be free to say anything he wants, though he might find some backlash from people who disagree"

      So if a white supremacist is valedictorian he should be able to stand up at a high school graduation and spout anti black rhetoric?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      yes derp.
      Freedom of speech is one of our most precious rights. There are some limitations...hate speech being one of those restrictions ( if that hate speech would incite a riot or otherwise comprimise the safety of others.), yelling fire in a crowded room when there is no fire, inciting riots, threats etc are all restricted, but expressing beliefs is a right.
      He would have to expect backlash if his speech was controversial, because others would have the right to say what they want in dispute , but he has the right to say it.
      We don't curtail the KKK when they have rallies, and the racist organization NAACP is free to say what they want.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Richard

      I think you underminded you entire post by calling the NAACP a racis organization... I mean, seriously?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      NAACP
      National Association for the Avancement of Colored People. How is that not racist?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Richard

      A mission to advance a groups interest is not racist. It would be one thing if the associations mission included advancement of colored people by hobbling the white man, but obviously that is not the case and the NAACP has, on a number of occasions, helped people of every color when they are in need.

      Since the term "racist" and "racism" has only bad connotations, and considering the NAACP is anything but, to call them racist is entirely misleading and flat out wrong.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Then they should change their name. Just because you do not push down others to lift yourself, they are discriminating non-the-less, which is racist. Giving one an opportunity that you would not give another based on skin color is racist.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Richard

      There are many groups out there that do ostensibly the same thing as the NAACP. There's the ADL (for jews), The SPLC (general) Amnesty International (gay rights), etc.

      Each group fights for the rights of different groups of people who have been discrimnated against, but they don't just stop there. Every group works together and tries to stop discrimination and hate regardless of the group you belong to. That's not discrimnating against anyone, it's simple identification of a specific group that's been discrimnated against and designed to help them among others.

      No one is given an opportunity that another would not get by any of these groups. Where have you seen that? For instance, if I'm discrimnated against as a jewish person, I would go to the ADL because that group has a mission specifically to stop anti-semitism. Now, could I go to the NAACP, or the SPLC? Sure, and they would be more than happy to help defend me but why wouldn't I get the group formed specifically to help people like me?

      Richard, there's no racism inherent in any of these groups and just because the name or the mission says they are specific towards one group over another doesn't mean they actively discrimnate against one group to promote another (which is racism).

      June 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • G to the T

      Distiguishing one "group" from all the others based on the color of your skin is racist. It classifies people based on their race. Whether or not the group's mission is a positive one or not, they are still a racist organization. The problem is that 'racist' has been blended into "bigot" in our day-to-day nomenclature.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @G to the T

      Wrong. Sorry but you're wrong.

      By that type of thinking the ADL would be anti-semitic because they are targeting jews, Amnesty International would be hom.ophobic because of their targeting for gay and transgendered people, and so on. Just because the NAACP specializes in issues arising from race relations does not make them racist in turn.

      It's foolish to even try and argue a technical side of why the NAACP could be "technically" racist because they specialize in race relations, it belies that you and Richard a) don't understand the work they're doing and b) would rather label an organization specifically created to fight racism as racist themselves because you're too lazy to do the research.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • ME II

      In a society, i.e. not anarchy, all freedoms have limits. Your freedom to swing your fists ends at my nose. – someone

      This was a school function and attendance was not purely voluntary, i.e. part of the ceremony of graduation, and therefore the administration was perfect right to pre-approve the speech, and while the student was not "wrong" to go off script, what he did was inappropriate. This was a speech to all students about their future and while many if not all may be believer's it was not about religion, it was about academic achievement.

      IMO

      June 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Ned

      Just because the NAACP specializes in issues arising from race relations does not make them racist in turn.

      I can't say that I agree with this statement. Any organization that puts the rights of one group ahead of the rights of another based on race is racist because it favors those of a particular race. If it was NAAWP, people would be up in arms over it, and rightfully so I might add. Anyone who does not strive for equality for all is guilty of some form of bigotry.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Ned

      I guess I haven't made myself clear here. The NAACP is in no way, shape or form putting one groups rights before the other. That's not how it works. The NAACP simply specializes in the problems that colored people face that white people don't face. Like my previous examples, that's why the ADL exists, to help solve problems that are unique to the jewish community, and why other groups that specialize in the problems of targeted groups exist. The NAACP isn't racist, both in the bigotry sense and the technical sense. For people who try and say that the NAACP is technically so just by trying to glean what they do by name alone is short sighted and lazy at best.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Ned

      @Chuckles

      simply specializes in the problems that colored people face that white people don't face.
      Such as?

      June 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Ned

      Is that a real question? Do you honestly believe that racism in America has been completely erased? Or, are you asking for specific cases?

      For instance, there have been a number of reported crimes of assault and battery, specifically down south, that are race related and have a person being targeted only because of the color of his skin. People of color being turned down for jobs based on the skin color, not to mention the outrageous pay gap when it comes to how much a person of color makes vs. how much a white person makes at the same job the only difference being color of their skin.

      Now, could the SPLC or the ADL step in and help the affected party? Absolutely, and they have trained people both lawyers and educators for these specific events, however the NAACP specializes in race relations and they'll be best suited for handling these cases.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Alias

      @chuckles.
      Your logic fails.
      Do you think a white person could walk through Harlem and not be targeted because of their race?
      Racism goes both ways.

      June 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Alias

      You're absolutely right, I never said anything different. I also guarantee you that the NCAACP would defend that person just as feverently as they would a black man getting jumped somewhere down south, so how does my logic fail exactly?

      Same goes for a Hi.sp.anic person getting jumped by bla.ck people for his race. The NCAACP deals in race relations, but was founded when it was pretty one sided and people of color needed protection from courts and jur.ies comprised mostly of white men. Now a days it's obvious that racism happens to everyone, sadly however people of color experience it more frequently than most wh.ite people care to admit.

      I still stand firmly that the NCAAP is as rac.ist as the ADL is anti-sem.iti.tic. Show me a clear case of the NCAAP actively legislating for a person of a race to receive more special treatment than another race simply because they favor a specific race over everyone else and I'll take my statement back.

      June 6, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Here's one. Took four seconds to find it.

      The St. Louis NAACP has come out defending the teenage thugs who were caught on camera brutally beating a student because he is white. Local St. Louis NAACP race hustler B.T. Rice actually went on Channel 4 (KMOV) St. Louis and blamed Congressman Joe Wilson, not the monsters who carried out the attack. Rice downplayed the incident and said that white resentment of having a black president is fueling anger among whites, not the actual beating!

      June 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Alias

      @chuckles
      but you said. "NAACP simply specializes in the problems that colored people face that white people don't face".

      I don't think there are any. All you could do is argue the degree, and that is area specific.

      June 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Bill

      I looked for the case you just posted. All I could find was liveleak.com (a horrible publication designed to defend white power) and stormfront (an intensely anti-semetic publication that only prints lies).

      If you can find this actually happening from a less bias site I'd be more than happy to actually read about but considering liveleak just states this happened without linking it to anything and then making the outrageous claim that apparently getting suspended is a "badge of honor" for black teens is actually more of a bolster to my point of why the NAACP exists in the first place.

      @Alias

      I disagree, being beaten for being black is something a white person will never face. Granted being beaten up because the color of someones skin is something that all races share, but there are crimes that people of color deal with that white people don't, it's simple fact.

      Like I pointed out before though, the NAACP was started to combat the intense bias that a person of color faced when they were discrimnated against and had no allies to help them. Today is different, but the NAACP's mission is far from complete. They will fight on behalf of any person, whatever color skin they might have, if they are targeted due to their skin color, and that's not racist.

      June 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  15. Sue

    He was the valedictorian. The floor was his and he had the right to say whatever crazy stuff he wanted too. Check this one out. Being a valedictorian is open license to say whatever radical, crazy stuff you want to. Why wouldn't this kid be any different?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=12WIT9vR6xg

    June 6, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  16. Illusive

    Don't people realize that what he did goes against the separation of church and state, THAT is the problem here, No government funded events/facilities/companies can endorse any one religion of another. So the 2 choices are EACH religion gets a prayer, or NONE of them do....which would you prefer?

    June 6, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Illusive

      *Over another

      June 6, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      He is not a representative of the school. He is an individual with his right to freedom of speech. Even though I disagree with his belief, he is free as an INDIVIDUAL, to express his beliefs. The presidents do it all the time, as individuals.
      I do not agree with what he says, but I would fight to the death his right to say it.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Thank you Richard. It's good to see some secularist understand the difference between state endorsed and personal expression

      June 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Jesus

      Lol – I can't wait until you die, so I can belt the sh.it out of you. I'm half thinking of accelerating my Second Coming just so I can smash you in the face. I hate you more than anything my father has ever created anywhere in the observable universe. You are batsh.it crazy and a complete irritation to everybody in your life. Please kill yourself.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      'It's good to see some secularist understand the difference between state endorsed and personal expression"

      Now, if you could only get that message through to Gopher regarding gay marriage

      June 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Randy

    Congratulations on your graduation!
    God bless you as you continue to shine for His glory!

    June 6, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Lisa

      Would you still be congratulating him if he used the opportunity to declare his atheism?

      June 6, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      or Allah?

      June 6, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Shine for who's glory?
      There are so many gods, he would be there for a long time thanking all of them.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • sam stone

      If we were created for "god's glory", then god is an egotistical punk

      June 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  18. LinCA

    If there are christians out there that wonder why I ridicule their religion, and point out that what is at the core of their faith is nothing more than an infantile belief in a creature no more likely to exist than the Tooth Fairy, look no further than this piece of garbage. By having your prayers at school board meetings, city council meetings, graduation ceremonies, you trample on the rights of everyone else.

    You are free to remain blissfully ignorant. You are free to grovel at the imaginary feet of your non-existing god. You are free to keep your ears, eyes and mind closed.

    Nobody is restricting you from exercising your right to freedom of religion. Nobody is restricting you from worshiping as you see fit. Why do you insist on restricting others from doing the same?

    June 6, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • nclaw441

      One person exercising his rights does not "restrict" the rights of anyone else. In this country there is no guarantee not to be exposed to views and beliefs different from our own. If that were the case, you could be accused of violating my rights...

      June 6, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Topher

      How is this young man's praying at graduation restrict your right to be an atheist?

      June 6, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > One person exercising his rights does not "restrict" the rights of anyone else. In this country there is no guarantee not to be exposed to views and beliefs different from our own. If that were the case, you could be accused of violating my rights...

      So, you'd have no issue with "In Allah we Trust" on the US Dollar? Sometimes rights are greater then an individual's right, but a right of the people or a group.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Topher

      If there's anyone taking away anothers' rights, it's groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • midwest rail

      Topher, please list the rights you've lost.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Rundvelt

      > How is this young man's praying at graduation restrict your right to be an atheist?

      Would you have the same opinon if this man came up and started talking about how he realized that the Christainity was nonsense and that no person should believe it?

      And what if the school put him up to it to get around the laws that say they can't. That's also a possibility.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Topher

      Watch the video. Unless I remember it incorrectly, the school board has been under pressure from that group and others ... no prayer in school, at school board meetings, at city councils ... on and on. That's why the kid tore up his speech and prayed.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • LinCA

      @nclaw441

      You said, "One person exercising his rights does not "restrict" the rights of anyone else."
      If it were just one, there wouldn't be much of an issue, although even one usurpation of a single publicly funded event for spreading this cancer, is one too many.

      You said, "In this country there is no guarantee not to be exposed to views and beliefs different from our own."
      I'm not saying that I want to be shielded from your delusion. I want it out of public events. Your delusion has no place in tax payer funded events. Your delusion has no place in events that are for all citizens.

      You said, "If that were the case, you could be accused of violating my rights..."
      You are free to use your own funds and your own property to worship as you see fit. You don't have the right to violate my rights. You have no right to force your mental illness on me. You have no right to use public funds or property to spread your lies. It is my right to be free to select my own religion, or none.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • midwest rail

      "...no prayer in school..."
      What you really mean, is no mandated Christian prayer. Nothing is stopping anyone from saying the silent prayer of their choice. Nothing.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Topher

      Rundvelt

      "Would you have the same opinon if this man came up and started talking about how he realized that the Christainity was nonsense and that no person should believe it?"

      I feel it's your right to reject Christianity and thus your right to be an atheist or Muslim or whatever. And as someone who wants to tell everyone about Christianity, I'd have no problem if you or anyone else want to tell me about your beliefs.

      "And what if the school put him up to it to get around the laws that say they can't. That's also a possibility."

      What laws? And I doubt very much the school put him up to it. Look at the teachers or whoever they are behind him. They look not entirely happy.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Apparently, a simple prayer is all it takes to cause an atheist's reason to collapse and his emotions to take over. A simple prayer offends you, but I bet you enjoy a good Hollywood bloodbath or somebody else's bed scene.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Topher

      midwest rail

      "What you really mean, is no mandated Christian prayer. Nothing is stopping anyone from saying the silent prayer of their choice. Nothing."

      Not at all. I have no interest in forcing anyone to be a Christian. And forcing someone to pray is wrong. But why should my prayers be silent? Is it not a free country? Is Christianity not held by more than 90 percent of the country and atheism in the single digits? If you don't like that there will be a Christian prayer, you're welcome to not attend, ignore the prayer or pray to a different god yourself.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • LinCA

      @Topher

      You said, "How is this young man's praying at graduation restrict your right to be an atheist?"
      He uses a publicly funded forum to spread his delusion, and his delusion alone. The reaction of the audience, apparently mostly christian, seem to support him. They drown out anyone who may not believe the same bullshit they do.

      You said, "Watch the video. Unless I remember it incorrectly, the school board has been under pressure from that group and others ... no prayer in school, at school board meetings, at city councils ... on and on. That's why the kid tore up his speech and prayed."
      The reason that, in this day and age, people have to be reminded to keep that delusion out of public events is the problem. While it may appear that the school board has tried to keep the ceremony within the law, the fact that the valedictorian felt the need to "protest" their stance shows how deeply disturbed large parts of the population are.

      The problem is that very many christians find it totally acceptable to force their delusion on every event, regardless of what others' rights get trampled on.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Vic

      Self Expression is a very common thing among people, and in fact a healthy thing when it is harmless! Such self expression DOES NOT infringe on anyone's freedom!

      Do you know about what Hunter "Patch" Adams did at his graduation?!

      June 6, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • midwest rail

      So, you haven't really lost the right to pray, you're upset that you can't do it out loud in certain situations ? You truly are a strange man.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • LinCA

      @catholic engineer

      You said, "Apparently, a simple prayer is all it takes to cause an atheist's reason to collapse and his emotions to take over."
      Get a fucking clue, you dimwit. I realize that to be a believer it helps greatly to have diminished mental abilities, but your ignorance and inability to grasp a simple concept, never ceases to amaze me.

      You, and every other deluded believer are free to pray and worship as you see fit, on your own dime.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Rishkin

      "He uses a publicly funded forum to spread his delusion, and his delusion alone. " Also publicly funded is educational mediocrity. Any opinion on that?

      June 6, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • LinCA

      @Topher

      You said, "And forcing someone to pray is wrong. But why should my prayers be silent? Is it not a free country?"
      By having a christian prayer at public events, you force your prayer on those that don't believe like you do. It is a free country for those that don't believe as you do, too.

      You said, "Is Christianity not held by more than 90 percent of the country and atheism in the single digits?"
      The majority has no right to suppress the rights of a minority, no matter how small.

      You said, "If you don't like that there will be a Christian prayer, you're welcome to not attend, ignore the prayer or pray to a different god yourself."
      How about you keep your delusion to your home and church, and I won't attend. This was a public event, and prayer at it was out of line. The applause for it was an endorsement of suppression of different beliefs.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • LinCA

      @Rishkin

      You said, "Also publicly funded is educational mediocrity. Any opinion on that?"
      Yes. We should start by getting the influence of religion out of it.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Chuckles

      I wonder how upset folks like Topher here would be if after this guy prayed another student came up and used his time to then discuss why religion is idiotic? Same use of freedom of speech, yet something tells me the Tophers of this world would wet themselves in anger.

      Personally I find it pretty inappropriate, I would also find any person professing his or her atheism on that stage equally as inappropriate. There's a time and place for that and this specific instance shouldn't be used to further your own beliefs just because you finally have a stage on which to do it.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Topher

      LinCA

      "He uses a publicly funded forum to spread his delusion, and his delusion alone. The reaction of the audience, apparently mostly christian, seem to support him. They drown out anyone who may not believe the same --- they do."

      Again, where is your rights restricted?

      "The reason that, in this day and age, people have to be reminded to keep that delusion out of public events is the problem. While it may appear that the school board has tried to keep the ceremony within the law, the fact that the valedictorian felt the need to "protest" their stance shows how deeply disturbed large parts of the population are."

      The extreme majority is expressing its right to believe in God. Just as you express yours not to believe. Seems fair to me.

      "The problem is that very many christians find it totally acceptable to force their delusion on every event, regardless of what others' rights get tram.pled on."

      AGAIN, where were your rights tram.pled on? Nothing is being forced on you.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Topher

      LinCA

      "You, and every other deluded believer are free to pray and worship as you see fit, on your own dime."

      Assuming this is a public school, the taxpayer (thus the crowd) seemed OK with it. So what's the problem? And why is FFRF sticking their nose in it?

      June 6, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Topher

      LinCA

      "By having a christian prayer at public events, you force your prayer on those that don't believe like you do. It is a free country for those that don't believe as you do, too."

      I understand. That is why you are free to take that time and meditate on anything you want. But the prayer is only being forced on you as you have to hear it. I know your time is important, but these things are usually like 15 seconds. No one is forcing you to believe it.

      "The majority has no right to suppress the rights of a minority, no matter how small."

      Just as the extreme minority has no right to suppress the rights of the majority, correct?

      "How about you keep your delusion to your home and church, and I won't attend. This was a public event, and prayer at it was out of line. The applause for it was an endorsement of suppression of different beliefs."

      You're welcome at my church anytime.

      Why do you feel your values are more important than mine?

      June 6, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • midwest rail

      Let's carry Topher's argument to its illogical conclusion. Remember now, he has already stated that he is not in favor of mandated Christian prayer.
      Topher goes to his local city council meeting, where he wishes to begin the meeting with a prayer. Does everyone pray together ? If so, what prayer ? Or does Topher say his prayer while his neighbor of a different faith says his at the same time ? Or do they take turns saying them aloud one at a time ? If so, what damn time does the meeting start ?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • sam stone

      "If there's anyone taking away anothers' rights, it's groups like Freedom From Religion Foundation."

      Or fvcknuts like Topher who want to deny others the right to marry, because they are immoral in his admittedly bigoted eyes

      June 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      Come on, Gopher, speak up. What rights have you lost?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • JOLEEN

      Forcing everyone not to pray out loud is your (an atheist) imposition of a faith that no God exists.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Nice try, Joleen – perhaps a remedial civics class ?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • @chad

      @Topher

      Is Christianity not held by more than 90 percent of the country

      Really Topher? How do you expect to be taken seriously when spout nonsense like this?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • WASP

      @CHRIS-topher: so you would be perfectly ok if he would have torn up his prepared speech and started praying to ALLAH?

      i highly doubt it.
      i agree he didn't bother any of my freedoms, however it was a typical thoughtless christian action he took by focusing ONLY on one god and not them all fairly. being that he had such a high respected spot in the graduation ceremony he should have thought of EVERYONE'S feelings toward each faith and left well enough alone.
      but that's just me.

      June 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Topher

      You still seem to be confused about what your right to freedom of religion entails. Your freedom of religion end where that of anyone else begins.

      Your freedom of religion gives you the right to believe whatever nonsense you want. It doesn't give you the right to expect anyone else to fall for the bullshit, too.

      Your freedom of religion gives you the right to build a church with your own funds. It doesn't give you the right to expect the tax payer to pitch in.

      Your freedom of religion gives you the right to worship as you want. It doesn't give you the right to expect anyone else to participate.

      You said, "Again, where is your rights restricted?"
      My right to freely choose my religion (or none) is impeded by christians turning public events into their church services. Christians steal my time and resources to spout their silly incantations.

      Anyone who is at that graduation ceremony that does not subscribe to your delusion, is still forced to sit through the nonsense. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and all others have spent equal amounts of time and money to get to the culmination of their education. This asshole deviating from his approved speech and substituting this bullshit, is deliberately dismissive of the rights of those that don't believe the same crap that he does. The audience that applauded him clearly feel the same.

      It is bullying. It's despicable.

      You said, "The extreme majority is expressing its right to believe in God."
      You are free to do that, on your own dime.

      You said, "Just as you express yours not to believe. Seems fair to me."
      No it isn't. Not by a long shot. The majority trampling on the minority is far more fitting for countries like Iran, not a sign of civilization.

      You said, "AGAIN, where were your rights tram.pled on? Nothing is being forced on you."
      See above.

      You said, "Assuming this is a public school, the taxpayer (thus the crowd) seemed OK with it."
      If even a single non-christian was at the event, the prayer was highly inappropriate. Even if none of the attendees publicly stated their disapproval or disagreement, that is far more likely out of fear for reprisals for publicly doing so, than agreement.

      You said, "So what's the problem? And why is FFRF sticking their nose in it?"
      Any endorsement of any religion in any public setting needs to be stomped out, if this country is ever to become civilized.

      You said, "I understand. That is why you are free to take that time and meditate on anything you want. But the prayer is only being forced on you as you have to hear it. I know your time is important, but these things are usually like 15 seconds. No one is forcing you to believe it."
      Why is it that believers are so fucking insecure that they feel the need to insert their bullshit everywhere. Why can't you assholes not keep your delusion to your homes and churches? Why do you need to subject everyone to your incessant blabbering to your imaginary friend? Is it not enough that you have the freedom to believe whatever nonsense you want?

      You said, "Just as the extreme minority has no right to suppress the rights of the majority, correct?"
      You don't have the right to oppress others. You don't have the right to use public funds for your prayer services. You don't have any rights that are in any way diminished by not being allowed to turn public events into church services.

      Using public funds and events for your delusion is theft.

      You said, "You're welcome at my church anytime."
      No thanks. But how about you do your religious mambo-jumbo at your church, and I don't bring a bullhorn and disrupt it? Sounds good?

      You said, "Why do you feel your values are more important than mine?"
      They aren't, but they certainly aren't less important.

      June 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • did you have to go there

      I raised Christian children, They, like ALL US public school children, could pray in school any time they wanted if they did it the way Jesus instructed: by NOT turning it into a public spectacle. The cults who lie about this are politicizing a non-issue and the people who have innocently fallen for their twisted manipulation, should ask demand answers. If a religious authority lies to me, I will find another house of worship. The reason they politicize this is simple: enflaming the public attracts new recruits. If you are gullible enough to buy their claims without questioning them, you are perfect material for their cult. It's a vile betrayal of trust.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:19 am |
    • EinNY

      Bravo LinCA!!!

      June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  19. Topher

    Way to go! Don't be intimidated!

    June 6, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Amen brother T. That's a good character trait that will see him becoming a success in life.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Topher, So you would be as happy if he waxed lyrical about a delusion other than yours? A lot of christians are preemptively trying to prevent sharia law while actively pushing their own religious beliefs onto the rest of society. So I doubt you'd be happy if, for example, he promoted islam in your church.

      June 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Topher

      In Santa we trust

      "So you would be as happy if he waxed lyrical about a delusion other than yours?"

      Of course I reject that I believe in a delusion. But to your point, no I don't have a problem with, say, a Muslim giving a prayer in public. I would just think he's wrong and move on.

      "A lot of christians are preemptively trying to prevent sharia law while actively pushing their own religious beliefs onto the rest of society."

      The problem with this argument is that Sharia is not a religion. Granted, it is mixed with their beliefs to form Islam. You can separate the two and argue that either (or both) is wrong.

      "So I doubt you'd be happy if, for example, he promoted islam in your church."

      Why would anyone promote Islam in a Christian church?

      June 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Of course I reject that I believe in a delusion"

      Of course, this is what makes it a delusion

      June 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Topher

      I like to call it circular justification.

      June 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • sam stone

      Call it what you will

      It is still delusional

      June 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Madtown

      I would just think he's wrong and move on
      -----–
      You are very blessed and fortunate to not have been born in Egypt! Not only would you then not think he's wrong, you'd be him.

      June 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  20. Perry

    Bravo! Cheers!
    Congratulation!!!

    June 6, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • The Lord's Prayer

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RtUkxLHD0-k&feature=player_detailpage

      June 6, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Abwoon d'bashmaya

      The Lord's Prayer

      (Aramaic)

      Abwoon d'bashmaya
      Netqaddash shmak
      Teete malkutah
      Nehvwey tzevyannach aykanna d'bashmaya aph b'arha
      Havlan lahma d'sunqananan yaomana
      Washbwoqlan haubvayn aykana daph hnan shbvoqan l'hayyabayn

      Wela tahlan le'ynesyuna. Ela patzan min bisha
      Metul dilakhe malkuta wahayla wateshbuhta l'ahlam almin
      Amen

      June 6, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • The Lord's Prayer

      The Lord's Prayer

      Our Father, which art in heaven,
      Hallowed be thy Name.
      Thy Kingdom come.
      Thy will be done in earth,
      As it is in heaven.
      Give us this day our daily bread.
      And forgive us our trespasses,
      As we forgive them that trespass against us.
      And lead us not into temptation,
      But deliver us from evil.
      For thine is the kingdom,

      The power, and the glory,

      For ever and ever.

      Amen.

      June 6, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Great Quetzalcoatl
      Lord of the Dawn, Plumed Serpent of the Rising Sun
      Great One of the Dawn Star
      As the light crests above the horizon and Your brilliance grows
      May You guide me; May You guard me
      O Radiant One, O Feathered One, O Blood Father of Humanity
      Allow me to blossom under Your guidance today
      Allow my life to nourish Yours, as Yours breathed life to ours

      June 6, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      “It's going to be all right, sir," Harry said over and over again, more worried by Dumbledore's silence than he had been by his weakened voice. "We're nearly there ... I can Apparate us both back ... don't worry ..."
      "I am not worried, Harry," said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. "I am with you.”

      June 6, 2013 at 11:42 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.