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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. Reality

    This cure is very important for all new members of this blog to include the valedictorian:

    Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion and this case Christianity. The first and easiest of the available cures for all the variations of this Syndrome:

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc.) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  2. oldguy68

    I've heard plenty of graduation speeches where I disagreed with some of what was said. If universality of agreement is what you want, it ain't gonna happen as long as people can say what they think.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • SCBAMA

      Amen

      June 7, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  3. chut26

    Wonder what would happen if the kid was Muslim? Would CNN report this with the same positive spin?

    June 7, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • SCBAMA

      Yes. CNN loves Muslins.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  4. Dave

    What we, Americans, should do it so sue the kkrap out of the Freedom From Religion Foundation for trying to limit our Freedom of Speech as dictated by the First Amendment. Then this foundation will learn its lesson.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Dan

      AMEN!

      June 7, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • cedar rapids

      will learn its lesson? what lesson is that then?

      June 7, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      And what Churches do we sue for promoting their religious views and silencing others?

      June 7, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Pete

      Maybe atheists should sue to be able to openly speak in your churches and to your kids in Sunday school too.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Paddymurphy

      You are confused. They are protecting the first amendment rights of Americans.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Thomas

      Suits against the Wisconsin group would be good. A fun project is post a sign at the city or county line reflecting a believe of The Book. Let them run ragged to one site after another.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  5. geni2012

    The saddest part of this whole story is the fact that it IS a newsworthy story. Something that should be an every day ocurence (if you are so inclined) should not find space on a media website.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Pete

      Why should this be an everyday occurrence in our public schools when we have a separation of Church and State? Of course, you could only select valedictorians who are devout Christians, but if other criteria are at all valued in that selection you may end up with somebody of another faith giving the speech, and how would you appreciate their prayers?

      June 7, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  6. jamesfoley

    While I find this young man's personal values a nice thing, he, and most of you, don't quite understand why there needs to be a separation of church and state. I wish you could at least attempt to muster some insight, and foresight into what happens when religion is injected into every part of daily life. It creates a zombie mind. No need to think because they'll think for you. No need to look for answers and make your own observations because those have already been done for you. The fact is, god's word is supposed to be supreme, and he supposedly tends to it with iron fist. That is contrary to a free and equal society. Everything in moderation. Prayer in schools, as a directive rather than an option, is an excess and is not needed except by the individual.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • geni2012

      James, while I generally agree with your sentiment, I think the fact that kids are being reprimanded or discouraged from even simply mentioning God in a graduation speech, is ridiculous. 30 years ago no one would have taken notice of cared if this had taken place. Now, it makes the news.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, you seem to be the one who doesn't understand why there needs to be a division between church and state. Our Founding Fathers understood that allowing religion any control in government is poison to freedom. They only had to look to Europe for examples.

      This nation is founded on individual freedom, including the freedom to believe (or not to believe) whatever you choose. Therefore religion is separate from government and government-run entities (like public schools) for the protection of all citizens. Religion has no official standing in our government to preserve the equality and freedom of the citizens of this nation.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • mbg

      I see what you're saying kind of like what happens in Muslim Fundamentalist countries when they behead you for not having the same religious beliefs as them.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • james farmer

      I would have to disagree with you in regards to this article. This young man chose to do something on his own and did "think for himself". He made his own decision to proceed after thinking it through and following his belief. I also believe you are very misguided, God gives everyone a free will in my opinion. This is why I can choose to believe and you can choose not to. I was never forced growing up to pray, recite prayer, etc but the opportunity to do so seems to be what your kind chooses to take away. I find it offensive that organizations like ACLU and freedom of religion exist, as they take away many more freedoms than I believe they support. I don't agree that non believers are the majority, they are just louder!

      June 7, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Actually, you seem to be the one who doesn't understand why there needs to be a division between church and state. Our Founding Fathers understood that allowing religion any control in government is poison to freedom.

      Like so many, the true intent of what the founding fathers meant, is up to interpretation. The interpretation the separation is to protect the church from the government. This is so, as stated, the government can not come knocking on my door and say that I must follow a church that they created. I would ask, is a kid thanking God, a government dictating that we must follow his religion? I could even give an example of if he were Gay and wanted to thank his boyfriend for his success. Would you then say that your government was forcing you to become Gay or Lesbian?

      June 7, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • The real Tom

      He was not "thanking" his god. He was leading a prayer in a tax-payer-funded public school event. Read the cites, Piddles. What you think the founders' intent was is irrelevant. The SCOTUS has ruled on this issue in other cases and it sides with those who think the separation of church and state is violated by such actions.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Pete

      geni2012
      And 30 years ago nobody would have reacted very much to people making racial slurs, treating women as inferior, and calling kids with mental developmental disorders "retards". Things have improved since then, right?

      June 7, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'james farmer – I was never forced growing up to pray, recite prayer, etc but the opportunity to do so seems to be what your kind chooses to take away. '

      i was. at the end of every school assembly a prayer was said. And your claim is false. no one is taking the opportunity away, they are saying you cannot force it on the GROUP. Why cant you accept that?

      June 7, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  7. Al

    Good for him, God helped him and many there to get to Graduation day. I commend him for standing up for good principle and good practice, someone with such good morals will go a long way in life.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • JRNY

      So if god helped him get to graduation (and how do you know that Al?) what about the ones that didn't make it to graduation?

      June 7, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • jamesfoley

      Actually, that's part of the problem. If god helped him through it, did god also cause others to fail?
      God is a prsonification. This kids prayer only affected those who heard it and/or heard of it. There is no magic or miracle in prayer. It is comforting to the prayer; nothing more.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • SCBAMA

      and how do you know what you say is true James Foley. Your argument loses when you start writing.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • The Owner Of Al's Employer

      The kid can't reason well, so he won't excel in science, medicine, or engineering. He'll end up with an Al job on the assembly line or flipping burgers, or maybe in a low-on-the-totem pole marketing role if he's lucky.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • DrivenB4U

      So, how exactly did God help him? I would like to know. Maybe he was distracted while helping him while those tornadoes were running loose in OK and killing kids.

      The truth is that he helped himself, and Christians rob him and others of self-worth by crediting it to something else.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • Thoth

      I got my first job at 15. I graduated high school, worked while in college, earned a BSME, and an MBA. I earned them. No 'god' helped me. It is insulting to me, and everyone who has worked their a$$ off to accomplish something, to make claims that it was with the help of some absent diety.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • JRNY

      Well said Jamesfoley! It's true, prayer only comforts the believer. That's why anyone on the earth can pray to any god or goddess and still feel comforted. That's all it is, psychological.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • sean

      God did not help him get to graduation. He got to graduation all by himself. Every single person in that room got to graduation through their own hard work, and support from family, friends, teachers, and even community figures like pastors and preachers, but it was their hard work that got them there. I don't want to sound like I'm trampling on someones beliefs, but when people give all of the credit they rightfully deserve for their hard work, for their will and determination, to god or something else, it makes me sad. Religion may have helped, but you deserve the credit.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • tallulah13

      The kid lied to authorities about what he was going to say and he broke school policy because he wanted to say something forbidden, and Al considers this virtuous. I bet if the kid gave a speech praising Buddhism, Al would be singing a different tune.

      It's amazing how bad behavior is suddenly okay if you are doing something a christian likes. It's as though they don't think the rules apply to them.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Good for him, God helped him and many there to get to Graduation day. I commend him for standing up for good principle and good practice, someone with such good morals will go a long way in life.'

      good principles and good morals?
      he lied, disrespected the school and the authorities, and technically broke the law. gosh, i wish i had those morals.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Science

      Morning Thoth...............agree !

      Our fate is in our own hands.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Sue

      Al
      If you need to pray in order to pass enough courses in order to graduate then I suggest you need to study more and do better work.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • In Response

      Concerning those who didn't make it to graduation, JRNY, perhaps they too should have believed in God and their story could have ended up much differently and with a much happier ending for them!

      June 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  8. JRNY

    Yay for us tax-payers! I mean, we get to pay for a public education and still have a student disrespect us, and the law by praying to a god. Nice.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Ken

      He was not disrespecting anyone. He was simply exercising and standing up for his 1st amendment rights, nothing more. If you have a problem with that, you can move to north korea.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • SCBAMA

      What law? I saw him exercising his 1st Amendment rights. There is a difference between policy and law slick. Maybe you should study some.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • snowboarder

      nobody cares if he prays. just not use a public function as a pulpit.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • G to the T

      He may not have intended disrespect, but that's what he did as soon as he tried to apply his own belief upon the rest of the people in the room...

      June 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    This young man lives in a tiny town where the population is overwhelmingly white, Christian farmers.
    If one is born and raised in an insular environment, surrounded by people who all share a particular worldview, there is a high probability that a young person will espouse that worldview.
    Given his audience, the prayer was no more likely to offend than if he said "better dead than red" in 1955.
    While his friends, neighbours and fellow Bibleists pat him on the back for his "courage", all he did was recite the propaganda he's been raised to believe.
    If he were Korean, he would have tossed away his approved speech to heap praise upon Kim Il Sung and got the same support from his neighbours.
    This isn't about freedom of religion, or freedom from religion, or the 1st Amendment or what people think the Founding Fathers envisioned for America.
    What the boy has done is give an object lesson in how early indoctrination shapes our lives.
    It isn't about what he belives, it is about whether or not he and all the other young people like him are encouraged to question WHY they believe as they do (and if they are given unbiased resources to explore alternative viewpoints).

    June 7, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • JRNY

      Well said Doc! So all you christians that think you just gained some leverage with this article...take some deep breaths and back off...this did happen in South Carolina...after all....

      June 7, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • SCBAMA

      Now I get how you folks believe. If others don't believe as you do they are tagged as extremist lunatics. Your argument makes sense to me.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @SCBAMA
      I don't think you understand at all. It isn't about extremism – it is about questioning conformity.
      Perhaps Thomas Jefferson said it best:
      "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."

      Young people must be taught to

      June 7, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Jeebus

      Well said. It takes no courage at all to stand in front of a room of people who mostly agree with you and tell them what they want to hear. The kids who had courage were the non-Christians in the graduating class who had to sit there and have their own beliefs belittled and trampled on by someone loudly reinforcing the majority view.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • JRNY

      sc...you're a pot calling the kettle black....

      June 7, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  10. John Reuter

    I thought college graduates were usually kind of smart and forward thinking and didn't believe in imaginary figures or animals.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      He's a high school graduate, not college.
      I don't know about you, but I'd try to smack some sense into my teenage self...

      June 7, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • SCBAMA

      Well seeing how animals are physically all around us not believing in what you see right in front of you would kind of be difficult. Why do you have a problem with what he believes anyway. If you don't agree don't listen.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • HA

      Apparently smarter than you. I'm still trying to find where it said he went to college. English lit kind of kept you back from college huh?

      June 7, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • JLM

      Your "imaginary figure" will judge you someday. You can count on it.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @JLM
      Which imaginary figure?
      Will it be St. Peter at the Pearly Gates?
      Joseph Smith and the Archangel Moroni waiting for the secret handshake and password for the Celestial Kingdom?
      Perhaps Ma'at will weigh my heart against a Shu feather.
      Will Odin deem me unworthy of Valhalla becuase I die peacefully instead of gloriously in combat?

      June 7, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Their Thinking

      College graduates ARE smart, John. But the imaginary figures and animals is what atheists who do not believe in God believe in. How sad.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  11. AverageJoe76

    When the Lord's Prayer is recited, does it re-energize God? Or just the individual reciting. Or does it re-establish the God-to-human rapport channels...... or something. I often wonder why we even vocalize to God. I always figured God as a mind-reader (which was really messed up considering all those thoughts I had).

    Prayer doesn't have a science to it. I think that bugs people who don't pray. Seems inefficient to an All-Knowing presence. On the 4th of Juuuu-Lye, I'm gonna sacrafice some cows and pigs, smother them with sauce, and hope that the smell is sweet to God. He seems to like burning flesh alot. Or maybe he went vegan after Jesus. Idk. This is why I'm agnostic now. You'll go crazy trying to figure God out.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  12. hmmm

    Christians pretend they are victims. I see them more as dominant and aggressive than oppressed in any way.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Truth

      They are oppressed by the biggots at large...

      June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • SCBAMA

      Why are you so threatened by someone elses beliefs? Sounds like to me if they don't believe as you do they are a threat.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Sounds like to me if they don't believe as you do they are a threat.'

      yeah, next thing you know they might start making claims of some kind of 'war on religion'......oh wait, thats your lot isnt it?

      June 7, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Arthur Bryant

      They want this to be the "end times". If they are being persecuted, it's the end times. Because the bible says so.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  13. Mark

    So it would have been ok with all of you people supporting him if a Muslim kid had gotten up and praised Allah and talked about how Islam is the only true religion? Or an atheist pointing out how silly religion is? That would be ok with all of you – right?

    June 7, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • cedar rapids

      you wouldnt be heard above the boos and moans.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • yes

      Good point.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • JRNY

      Why do christians always resort to whining about how people defend Muslims? I mean, was that ANYWHERE in the article? Has ANYBODY ever defended a muslim on here???

      June 7, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • SCBAMA

      Yeah...how many boos and moans did one hear during his speach. None. His topic was appropriate for the audience.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • think

      He didn't say Christianity is the only true religion, nor did he pick on non-believers and tell them how foolish they are. NIce try.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Rebekah Filson

      Yes it would have been fine with me if he was Muslim, praised Allah for his support and read a Muslim prayer. He has a 1st amendment right to do so, and freedom of speech. Additionally, this was a student led prayer, something the Supreme Court has routinely upheld as a 1st Amendment right (please see recent decision regarding Cheerleaders and Bible verses). The Super Attendant didn't tell him to pray or write the prayer for him. He made this choice just as I as a Mormon, could have thanked God and read a quote from the Book of Mormon and then recited the Lord's Prayer had I been valedictorian.

      You don't have a right to not be offended in this country.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  14. Martin

    Some say this young man was brave. Sometimes it does take bravery to be foolish. I'll have to remember next time I'm invited to a graduation to pack some rotten fruit.....just in case.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • SCBAMA

      It was his right to do so just as you have a right to believe as you do. You athesis are worst than the gays.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • The real Tom

      He can believe whatever he wants. He doesn't get to preach it at a public school graduation.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • cedar rapids

      sounds like you are a hater scbama, and that is specifically mentioned in your bible as getting you a one way ticket to hell.
      not my rules you understand, sorry.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Martin

      SCBAMA: " You athesis are worst than the gays."

      LOL.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Rebekah Filson

      If you threw rotten fruit at him that would be assault...an acutual crime

      June 7, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  15. Alex

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/satanists-plan-rally-support-florida-gov-rick-scott/story?id=18219915#.UbHgbOe-pWQ

    June 7, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  16. think

    How dare this kid work hard and earn the right to deliver this speech and then get up there and speak his mind?! And in public for that matter! And can you believe the nerve of the audience to applaud him?? What is America becoming? Such an insensitive thing to say. From now on, if I hear someone say something that I don't believe in or agree with, I'm calling the cops. I've had it.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • The real Tom

      When you get finished with your silly rant, go read the court cases regarding this issue. It won't change your mind, i'm sure, but maybe it will keep you busy while you sound out the words and move your lips as you read.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • think

      Yeah, I'm going to go read court cases. Afterwards, I'm going to reach a new level of enlightenment. By this time next year, speeches like this will infuriate me to the point of verbally abusing people I don't agree with.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Silent Majority

      Get back under your bridge.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Matt

      I think also someone should've came on stage and called him out for is idiotic delusional fantasy in a magical sky daddy.

      Sounds fair to me.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'By this time next year, speeches like this will infuriate me to the point of verbally abusing people I don't agree with.'

      because apparently sarcastic posts are ok, its 'verbally abusing' that is wrong.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • think

      I think you should keep your views bottled up, and don't dare speak them if insomuch as one human being around you disagrees. You are so disrespectful, and frankly, your beliefs that differ from my own are offensive. I can't believe you have different thoughts on life, purpose, and creation than me...YOU must be the idiot, because I've got to be right. Therefore, I can call you names and pick on what you deem truth...I mean, that's how it works right?

      June 7, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • cedar rapids

      see, you seem to want to claim you are not doing the same as everyone else but all you are doing is attempting to camoflague it with sarcasm.
      There is no difference in what you are doing.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  17. South Carolina Atheist

    Just another brainwashed fundie demonstrating the depths of his ignorance as well as his immaturity. Yawn.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • in a foreign land

      We are sending in a team to rescue you soon. Hang on.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  18. darrenellis2012

    Good for this young man reciting "HIS" speech. This is still a free country, with free speech. Too many people want it to be FREEDOM FROM speech. If an atheist is valedictorian, they will have every right to recite a dierent type of speech. How it is accepted will be up to the receivers, not the government. I am appalled a school district telling this young man what he can or can't say.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • The real Tom

      No, in fact, free speech has limits. This kid violated the rules against student-led prayer at public school sponsored events. In my opinion, he's a self-centered, self-aggrandizing little sh!t who wanted to make a big noise and get lots of attention. He knew that he had a bully pulpit and that the majority of people in the audience would applaud and cheer his sanctimonious act.

      Some hero.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Martin

      That is does, The real Tom.

      @darren -what if his speech was just chock full of profanity – how long do you think they would let him continue?

      June 7, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • derp

      actually Tom, free speech has no limits. But it does have consequences.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • The real Tom

      derp, have it your way.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • The real Tom

      http://www.freedomforum.org/packages/first/curricula/educationforfreedom/supportpages/L04-LimitsFreedomSpeech.htm

      June 7, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • limits

      Wrong derp: there are legal consequences too. You can't yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. You can't slander someone. Free speech has limits. And, you can't lead (NOTE: "LEAD") a prayer, as a school official, while in school.

      I agree with you that it has interpersonal consequences and that people sometimes misunderstand that consequences are a violation of free speech. They are not.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • tallulah13

      I agree with derp, actually. You see it all the time. People running off at the mouth, then losing their jobs or being sued. You are free to say anything you want, but you will also face the consequences.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  19. noone

    I'm an atheist and I really have no problem with this kid praying to his non-existent god during his speech. However, if he can pry to his god others should be allowed to pray to their god(s) as well. That's the problem with Christians. They want to have their religion in the public sphere but deny other religions the same.

    June 7, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Vic

      When Christians push for Prayer in Public Schools, they are NOT denying anyone their faith/religion; they are basically asking for their fair share! It all depends on the demographics! That's why I threw this idea last night:

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/06/hear-what-valedictorian-said-for-cheers/comment-page-11/#comment-2402921

      June 7, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • The real Tom

      Vicky, you're just plain stupid.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Vic – When Christians push for Prayer in Public Schools, they are NOT denying anyone their faith/religion; they are basically asking for their fair share!'

      Rubbish. If no other religion is praying in schools then you cannot claim that pushing for christian prayer is asking for a 'fair share'. That is nonsense.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • The real Tom

      What makes Vicky's comment so idiotic is that prayer isn't forbidden in public schools and never was. But a student-led prayer or a prayer led by a school official at a publicly funded school's event is not permitted, nor should it be, because such prayers are then state-sponsored and endorsed and that is unconstitutional.

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

      Well, it's a judgement call!

      June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Vic

      XY Vic here!

      June 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • noone

      Vic,

      So you'd be perfectly OK with a Muslim praying to Allah at his graduation? How about a Hindu or even a Satanist? Because if you let one religion have "their fair share", you'd better be prepared to let all the others have their's too. This is why the best solution is to just keep religion out of public life. Go pray in your homes and churches/temples and leave the rest of us out of it.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • faith

      and so far, in 2000 years, not one nazi god hating fascist has been able to offer one piece of evidence contradicting the evidence of the new testament which proclaims christ is king.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • erivera63

      Vic....isnt praying in your own home and church enough..I dont see the need to also go to school and force everyone else who may not be of your religion to listen to your prayer...I work with muslims who pray up to 5 times a day..It was weird to see them in the middle of a work day go to a corner and kneel and pray but I respect the fact that they are no forcing me to pray with them..

      June 7, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • noone

      faith,

      Yeah, of course Christ is king. The king of fools and you yourself are the proof of that.

      June 7, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'faith – and so far, in 2000 years, not one nazi god hating fascist has been able to offer one piece of evidence contradicting the evidence of the new testament which proclaims christ is king.'

      nazi god hating fascists have been around 2000 years? wow. (oh and I hope that isnt you being a hater, they are specifically barred from heaven)
      and what evidence can be provided that can 'refute' a claim that cannot be proven in the first place? There is no more 'evidence' provided by the bible that some being called jesus is the son of god than there is that achilles really was invulnerable almost everywhere because his mother dipped him in the river styx.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  20. Matt

    To be a Christian or a member of any other religion you must have compartmentalization syndrome.

    A) You would not be a Christian if you were born in a different country. Say Iraq or China or Nepal.

    What does this tell you????

    You do realise that Christianity only makes up 35% of the world population....So you can't even play the numbers game which is even a fallacy anyway.

    Wow it makes your God even more disturbing that he is going to send 65% of the world to Hell for not following him....LOL!

    June 7, 2013 at 9:22 am |
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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.