home
RSS
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. Bill

    I am religious and I feel he should not have said the Lord’s Prayer at his speech.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • God

      I too am religious and I feel that he was wrong to say a prayer in a public school setting.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Ann

      It doesn't matter what he said. What matters is that he agreed to have his speech pre-approved, and then disrespected his school by going off-script.

      I don't care if he went off-script to praise jesus, to try to convert the audience to veganism, or to talk about his favorite way to whack off. He disrupted the planned ceremony for his own ego.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Lou

      God, you are NOT religeous. Anyone who would use the screen name "God" is full of the pride of the devil. You are a wicked man (or woman) and you are heading for an eternity enduring the devestating torments of the damned in Hell. You are also a royal SOB.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Annie

      I agree. To this jerk who calls himself "God," I say, Go to Hell.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Valedictorian

      Lou,

      God does not tolerate those who cannot spell 'religious'. You must confess your wrath and errors to God and pray that he will forgive you.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #2 – If you use words and phrases like: "Anyone who would use the screen name "God" is full of the pride of the devil. You are a wicked man (or woman) and you are heading for an eternity enduring the devestating torments of the damned in Hell.” Then you are definitely mentally retarded.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Bill

      Lucifer,
      It really doesn’t project you or your atheist allies on this board when you compare someone you disagree with to the mentally handicap.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  2. Robert

    George Washington prayed publically and his first Thanksgiving Day proclamation, requested by both houses of congress, sounded like a sermon. Abraham Lincoln's second ignaugural address, which is carved in stone on his memorial, also sounds like a sermon. FD Roosevelt prayed on D-Day over the radio and a prayer of that fervor and godliness is seldom heard in churches today. So how can it possibly be unamerican to pray at a High School graduation? The answer is, it's not. It's the godless ACLU, who are enemies of America and whose leaders belong in a Federal Prison for life, which has done this dasterdly thing along with other evil persons who have wormed their way into our judicial system. Amongst the most godless and evil are that plastic-smiled Elena Kegan, Sonia Sotomayor, the wicked witch of the west, Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and the evil presidents and senators who put them there (i.e,. the Clintons, Obama and Ted Kennedy). When history is read a thousand years from now, these people will be known as the worst and most evil and sinister leaders who have ever come to power in America.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • God

      Thank you Robert from the nut gallery, now, in local news:
      “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

      June 7, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      So your argument is that countries that currently teach Islam in their public schools should continue to teach Islam in public schools because the leaders of their countries are muslim and follow Islam? Hmmm.. Okay.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Satan

      I say EVERYONE should pray in public schools! Break the law! Show that you are above the law, that you have militias, that you are nuts! I LOVE IT!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • cedar rapids

      sorry robert, you both hate and bear false witness in one post. you are a hypocrit that is hell bound, condemned by your own bible. You are no christian.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • snowboarder

      lol

      June 7, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Colin

      You're not the only one who feels that way.

      "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."

      Adolf Hitler, Speech in Berlin, October 24, 1933

      June 7, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Robert

      I'll start with Captain Obvious because he's the easiest. Cpt. O, nothing seems obvious when compared to the obviousness of your immence ignorance. We're not talking about the law in other countries. We're talking about America.

      Now, to the arrogant jerk who have the unmittigated gall to call himself "God." Only a godless and stupid person would do such a foolish thing. You're ignorance is also immence, only your ignorance is not quite as obvious as Capt. O. It takes absolutely no intelligence and no work to engage in name calling. You're just hostile because you don't like what I say. But too bad. The objection of a godless person only shows how valid my point is. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely hon my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for jso they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (The words of Christ from Matthew 5: 11,12)

      Have your fun with your name calling now while you can. I wouldn't wish your end on my worst enemy.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Valedictorian

      Robert, the moment you used the word 'evil' you outed yourself as a dumbass.

      God sees your attempts to turn others away from His Word with your behavior, and He will deal with you in time.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Robert

      Cedar Rapids, and what is your basis for saying that? It's nothing. You have said absolutely nothing and have offered no support for your irresponsible words. The problem with these blogs is that anyone can say anything without backing it up. A simple-minded statement witout a basis such as yours is worthless and meaningless. You are the one who is filled with hatred and falsehood because you are standing for those who are promoting great evil in not only our nation, but also the world. Your end is the same as Capt. O's and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. (Now, how is that hatred?)

      June 7, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • mama k

      Oh please. While it's true that public officials such as those presidents you mentioned have often included spiritual concepts in their ceremonial speeches, your insinuation that the ACLU is responsible for application of the Establishment clause of the Consti-tution is ridiculous. Consider:

      As Deist Christians, the first five presidents including John Adams, James Madison & Thomas Jefferson were likely to have quite a different notion of God than the Christian God of today. Deist Christians may have followed Christ's teachings, but usually refuted the divinity of Christ. They were always ready to call out on the dark side of organized religion:

      I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history. "

      (John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816)

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      (Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

      Obviously Deism played an important part in the lives of the key framers who wrote the Constitution and its initial set of Amendments that we live by in the U.S.

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

      (James Madison, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & Bill of Rights – from A Memorial and Remonstrance as delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785.)

      Reflections on his handiwork in the Constitution and 1st Amendment, later in life:

      Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

      The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

      Madison as president vetoed two bills that he believed would violate the separation of church and state. He also came to oppose the long-established practice of employing chaplains at public expense in the House of Representatives and Senate on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state and the principles of religious freedom. (Library of Congress – James Madison Papers – Detached memorandum, ca. 1823.)

      John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law.

      John Tyler, the 10th POTUS was a Deist Christian.

      Many believe Abraham Lincoln was a Deist.
      John Remsburg, in his book Six Historic Americans (1906), cites several of Lincoln's close associates:

      After his assassination Mrs. Lincoln said: "Mr. Lincoln had no hope and no faith in the usual acceptance of these words." His lifelong friend and executor, Judge David Davis, affirmed the same: "He had no faith in the Christian sense of the term." His biographer, Colonel Lamon, intimately acquainted with him in Illinois, and with him during all the years that he lived in Washington, says: "Never in all that time did he let fall from his lips or his pen an expression which remotely implied the slightest faith in Jesus as the son of God and the Savior of men."

      Theodore Roosevelt did not take the oath of office on a Bible in 1901.

      William Howard Taft, the only U.S. President to also hold the office of Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court:

      I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.

      ========

      The Deistic side of John Adams comes out strong in these paragraphs A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-1788)

      The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

      Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • God2

      Won't Robert be surprised when he's being butt-pounded in Hell... All of the evangelicals will be lined up to take their turn on him.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Robert – Cedar Rapids, and what is your basis for saying that? It's nothing. You have said absolutely nothing and have offered no support for your irresponsible words'

      Your own words condemned you Robert.....'It's the godless ACLU, who are enemies of America and whose leaders belong in a Federal Prison for life, which has done this dasterdly thing along with other evil persons who have wormed their way into our judicial system. Amongst the most godless and evil are that plastic-smiled Elena Kegan, Sonia Sotomayor, the wicked witch of the west, Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and the evil presidents and senators who put them there (i.e,. the Clintons, Obama and Ted Kennedy'

      You bear false witness and express hate. Pure and simple. Dont have a go at me, these arent my rules, these are your god's rules. Argue with him.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  3. anony

    He can do what ever he wants.
    As long as he's not breaking the law.
    He can say whatever he wants in his speech, but it's against the law to try to force prayer in public schools.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  4. Josh

    "“He’s a graduate now, so there’s nothing we can do about it even if we wanted to,”

    Sure there are things you could do. Withhold his diploma. Withhold his transcripts from his college.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • God

      Well, if he doesn't go to his local community college he may not be accepted so easily...

      June 7, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • JFCanton

      But would the school do that if he went off script in some other way is the test. They'd probably have to say no to that even if he did a George Carlin routine.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  5. Thinker...

    I think he had a right to say what he did. The separation of church and state is just that; he was not a government representative and wasn't asked to speak by the government; therefore he does not fall under that heading. As the Valedictorian he was not appointed by the school, he was a free citizen who had earned the privilege of speaking at graduation through his studies. If the school had asked him to give the prayer that would be a problem, but for him to do so on his own is just free speech. That said, depending on his phrasing and emphasis (I haven't heard the speech so I have no idea), it may have been arrogant and rude to those that are not Christians or it may have been just a profession of personal belief.

    As far as the school is concerned, the fact that they set a rule and then did not even reprimand him for breaking it (all they could do since he is a graduate) is a form of tacit approval of his choice. We live in a country based around the ideal that the government will treat all citizens impartially and their approval of his violation of the rule falls short of that impartiality. If a Muslim or Hindu student had offered a prayer of their faith it is likely the student would have been reprimanded.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • God

      Your last sentence is based on....?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • snowboarder

      there is no contention that he could have acknowledged how his faith was an influence in his success, but what he did instead was use the occasion as a pulpit.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • McMannes

      I can assure you as a working member of a school district, it is more 'unlikely' that a Muslim, etc...would have been disciplined. We read numerous stories in class that contained Allah, Muslim, etc... We did not read ONE that said Jesus. So, again, the correct and accurate choice of words would be 'unlikely'.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Valedictorian

      @McMann are you the janitor?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Thinker...

      The last sentence is based on the fact that most of the people in that town are Christian (meaning the school board was also likely Christian). It doesn't mean that they would have reprimanded him because of his faith, just because he broke the rules. They did not reprimand him because they happened to agree with his breaking of their rule. Being objective and impartial is harder than it sounds since you have to be actively aware of your own prejudices (and we all have them) when performing your job. I leave it up to you to form your own opinion as to how many people actively look for prejudice within themselves.

      Snowboarder:

      His giving the prayer was his speaking about his personal beliefs (that prayer should be allowed in schools). In a different place it could have gone over very differently though. Just because you don't agree with someone's position on something doesn't mean you have to take offence at it. If he had attacked other faiths or non-believers that would be offensive. To me at least. What is offensive to one person may not be to others. It is impossible to never offend anyone.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Thinker...

      McMannes

      In what class did you read all these stories? Which ones were they? What grade level?
      I remember in one grade in highschool we focused on the literature of other cultures. In another we focused on western literature. You aren't likely to find much about Jesus in the 1001 Nights. The Scarlet Letter on the other hand had a few Christian references in it.

      Also: where is your school? What are the demographics of the student body and the school board?

      Every case is situational. I was not generalizing with that statement. It was geared to this particular case.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  6. Multiplier effect

    Rising from a town of 3000 people to the heartland and mainland of 300 million plus, we hear the most amazing prayer taught to mankind. The Lord's prayer!

    June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Mary Magdalene

      Well, that's rather dramatic. What about that verse that tells you not to pray in public?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • anony

      Most powerful prayer? That's not true, as you will soon find out....

      June 7, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • God

      “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

      June 7, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • JFCanton

      However, for those of us familiar with what the English language means, that doesn't say it's WRONG, just that it's not the source of bonus points that the Pharisees seemed to think it was.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Satan

      Oh JFcanton...what you christians will do to justify the means...LOL! Come see me soon!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'JFCanton – However, for those of us familiar with what the English language means, that doesn't say it's WRONG, just that it's not the source of bonus points that the Pharisees seemed to think it was.'

      However, for those of us familiar with what the English language means.....'But when you pray, go into your room, close the door' is a direct command of how to behave.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • JFCanton

      I'm just citing the incontrovertible facts here. Ability to read and understand the words that are written on the page (and especially not just the ones that are convenient, which is something that atheist apologia seem to have a MASSIVE problem with) is a prerequisite for claiming to have anything meaningful to say about those words.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • JFCanton

      Even a sentence with an imperative doesn't stand on its own. It's modulated by everything around it-as should be clear if you listen to a Dr. Phil type for a couple of minutes.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  7. rational

    Would they have cheered for his courage if he had been Muslim?

    June 7, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Satan

      Well I would have!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Jesus

      Me too!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Mary Magdalene

      As would have I!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  8. Free Speech Right?

    rips up speech and begins – "I'd like to thank Fvck all at this school for what they have done this year and those stupid Shlts in my homeroom, and yo! Big Di ckers! Slanging Bros! And to all you hotties out their keep them coo chies wet! Peace! Out!"

    June 7, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Free Speech Right?

      I find the message from your bible profane and it should be "bleeped" during any public broadcast.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • JFCanton

      What you might not understand, however, is that the definition of profanity is a group exercise. The majority rules on that subject, or in a polite society a rather substantial minority.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  9. palintwit

    We arrive in rusty 1964 motorhomes.
    We bring our bibles and loaded assault weapons.
    We wear ridiculous clothing and have teabags dangling from our earlobes.
    We carry misspelled racist signs as we stomp all over the White house lawn.
    We eat Chick-fil-A and wash it down with Everclear.
    We are Sarah Palin's real Americans.
    We love the baby jesus but we love to boink our cousins even more.
    We believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that early man walked with the dinosaurs.
    We believe that nascar is a real sport and that Dale Earnhardt was a great American athlete.
    We are the birthers. We are the baggers. We are tea party patriots.
    We are bigots and inbreds. We are morons and we are proud.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • imdayzed

      Good job stereotyping. Very enlightened of you. You have made me completely see the light and ready to change my ways.

      Care to add any anit-semetic or racist comments here with your big gold anonymity?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • cosmok

      Let me guess, you're unemployed and living off the taxpayer.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Billy Bob

      That about sums it up. I believe that would be hitting the galvanized nail on the head...

      June 7, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • NK

      you're a good example of a hater

      June 7, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • cosmok

      It's not surprising that the the most hateful and racist rhetoric comes from someone who does not believe in God.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  10. Light of Purest Most Radiant Truth

    This young man understands His Truth. That is something that most of these vile commenters don't care to understand. They are too busy fornicating and worshipping Satan and his minions. If they knew how little time they had, they would be trembling at His feet asking for forgiveness of their wicked sinful ways and asking for His radiant Love and Truth. Instead these vile animals keep aiming for Satin's cauldron of fire and endless pain. The mark has been put upon the land of His return and the righteous are ready to receive His full Glory! Amen.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Satan

      All hail ME!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • ME II

      "If they knew how little time they had,..."

      It's been nearly 2000 years. What's the holdup?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • D

      you are a bigoted individual with no respect for any other religion. In fact, you are a minion of Satan himself with your hatred of others.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • EJ

      I understand what you believe and I respect it. I also have respect for Mr. Costner and the fact that he stood up for what he believes in. However, saying that the majority of people posting on this are "fornicating and worshoping satan" is ridiculous. Just because someone doesn't believe in god or doesn't think he is watching over us does not mean that they worshop Satan. They actually probably don't even believe in a Satan. Maybe you need a lesson on respecting other people and having the maturity to respect their beliefs.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Light – hopefully your jesus takes away you christian retards soon, but i'm not going to hold me breath.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • cedar rapids

      Light, you are yet another hater condemned to hell by their own bible. not my rules you understand, just repeating whats said in there,

      June 7, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • snowboarder

      @radiant, ah yes the greatest tool of christianity. fear!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  11. Parasyte

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

    June 7, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Jesusisdead

      FINALLY! WELL SAID PARASYTE! Are you christians going to argue with your own book?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Jesusisdead

      Hello? Christians? Are you going to comment on what Parasyte pointed out or are you SUPER embarrassed now? I put extra emphasis on the last 5 letters of the word "embarrassed."

      June 7, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Ann

      Yeah, the evangelicals tend to skip over that part of the bible.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • NK

      @ jesusisdead so you agree with Jesus? why don't you read the bible so you may know the truth?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • cosmok

      And what Jesus meant, was any act, be it praying, giving, or serving, should not be done for the purpose of gaining approval from others. Praying, giving, and serving should be responses to our relationship with God and the mercies he has given us.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • God

      NK...I think "jesusisdead" was pointing out that you christians are hypocrites.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • whole truth

      For those of you ("Parasyte") who misinterpret this verse in the bible, please don't forget to read the beginning and end of the book of Luke. If you do read the bible you will understand that Jesus was correcting the Pharisees for their erroneous ways. These Pharisees prayed outwardly but their hearts were far from the Father.
      On the other hand, Jesus also said: Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
      The Valedictorian was confessing his faith when he read the prayer. He was not in error, instead he has every right to freely express his beliefs.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Valedictorian

      Hey whole truth

      my favorite part is how the Bible can say/mean anything we want it to, and then if it's used to point out something we don't agree with, we just pretend it doesn't mean that.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Parasyte

      @cosmok, how was he NOT trying to gain the approval of others? He was told not to do it, he made a show of it by ripping up his speech and did this knowing the the bible belt it would get such a reaction. He was acting much in the way the 'pharisees' was acting in your bible

      June 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • cosmok

      @Parasyte

      If he indeed did it for self glorification than he was of course wrong. My comment was simply to give clarification on the true meaning of Matthew 6:5 for those individuals who have never even touched a bible, yet are quick to construe that Jesus meant you should only pray in privacy.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  12. God is Good

    Praise God!!!!! Proud of this kid

    June 7, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Lamb of dog

      Yes! Good job reinforcing your belief in fairytales.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Bill

      That's so mean, Lamb.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Jesus freaker

      God is not great. How do I know this? Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore Oklahoma.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Bill

      That’s not God. That’s people acting on what they believe God wants them to do.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Jesus freaker

      That’s not God. That’s people acting on what they believe God wants them to do.

      What? So God really wanted them to skip school and go to a storm shelter? How were they supposed to know that?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Bill

      I don’t think that a belief in a higher power means you have solid clear-cut direction in everything in life.

      Religious people should base their belief on what is right and wrong the same way atheists do.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Ed

      Almost there, Bill. Delete the religionand you'll have it right.

      Certain other animals (bonobos, just to name one species) actually have developed their own moral codes, and show altruism. No religion and absolutely no bible requiired.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Ed

      Almost there, Bill. Delete the religion from your life and you'll have it right.

      Certain other animals (bonobos, just to name one species) actually have developed their own moral codes, and show altruism. No religion and absolutely no bible requiired.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  13. Matt

    Yay! Roy graduates and the Lord's Prayer is heard around the country!

    June 7, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Jesusisdead

      YAY! More christians shown to be ignorant, disrespectful and well, dumb!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Eco Plus

      May the positive message of the prayer echo around , today and forever!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • tony

      We already knew it. Repeating something imaginary over and over doesn't make it real. Unless you have a child's mind of course, then it sticks. . . . . . . . .

      June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  14. Chris

    So he "had" to bring his religion into it, regardless of the religions (or lack thereof) of the other people graduating. As a non-christian the arrogance of this just astounds me.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Jesusisdead

      Oh wait Chris, just wait for some of his christian buddies on here to respond to you with their arrogance and ignorance. It's fun.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Chuckles

      @Chris

      My thoughts exactly. He didn't "have" to do anything. He wanted to because he thought it would make the event special for him and he decided not to think about how it make his other classmates feel during their special day.

      I had a similar event happen at my graduation where one of the top performing students was asked to give a speech. She got up and ended up reciting a 10 minute long poem in Korean that only her family could understand. It was inappropriate to say the least.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • alicia

      Maybe if GOD was talked about more in schools we wouldn't have school shootings. But thats just my personal opinion.
      If you can't stand up for YOUR god maybe you're not serving the right GOD. Whatever god a person serves he should have no problems sharing it with other people.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • cedar rapids

      You know when the worst school killing happened alicia? 1924.
      The idea that shootings happen because god is not spoken in school is that biggest load of bull going.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  15. imdayzed

    Regarding the Free Exercise Clause of the 14th amendment, the courts have consistently stated that students' setting forth of religious views through prayer cannot be forbidden unless such activity can be shown to cause disruption in the school, yet it remains beyond the scope of the state to require such practice. Thus, anyone is allowed to pray in schools in the United States, as long as it is not officially sponsored by the school and it does not disrupt others from doing their work.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Jesusisdead

      Translation from imdayzed: In dumb-downed school districts, cough, cough, like the South, cough, you may pray to god even if you're told not to by the school board, when you were told to have your speech pre-approved and then tore it up.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  16. McMannes

    The same way MTV follows those rules so we don't have to hear all the profanity and idiotic statements that singers/actors make? Take a :15 breather, tolerate someone else for 1 minute and then catch your breath again.....just like Christians have to do everyday, on every show, on every channel, at every time slot, on every movie, in every song, in every book, every single day. We tolerate the vulgar every day....you can tolerate someone's faith for a few minutes a year. Geez. And faith is correct, faith is a fact, though unprovable, the mindset is a fact. Just like the world is round, black holes, quantum teleportation, etc... Unprovable one day is not necessarily unprovable the next. Imagine having to prove you loved someone....you'd fail because you can't. So spit on us on all you like. Yeah, we wish you didn't....but ultimately, you're not going to alter what we know to be true.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Given enough time with special brain-imaging equipment and science can most certainly prove that you "love" another. Brain states can be measured by looking at the active centers in the brain and comparing those pictures with other pictures of the brain when it is tasked with other objectives.

      Believers believe. They don't know. Some believers claim to know, but they don't, because the muslims who claim to know claim it as solidly as the Christians who claim to know and on and on.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  17. lol??

    I speak no english well or bad but in a circus is my bearded mother of dad that has a deaf mutant christian ear.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  18. tony

    Rules???? Laws???? But I'm a Christian – my fantasy allows me to trample over the community's rules and laws – it says so.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • McMannes

      You ever drive 56mph in a 55 zone? Of course, you have.... You know why? Because you're a 'Trampler'...just like us evil Christians. Be careful, you might get pulled over in front of a church one day and then your buddies would see you in the parking lot and start making fun of you for being at a church. "No I wasn't ...no I wasn't.....nuh-uh.....I swear....please guys...be my friends....I wasn't at that church, I got pulled over by a cop....for speeding...speeding's cool right? I was cool. Guys please....be my friends again." LOL....typical hater. Bwahahahaha.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @McMannes

      Is what no atheist would say ever, you mean.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • tony

      I plead guilty when I get a speeding ticket. I know the dangers of speeding that may harm others and I try hard to not do it knowingly. I also know how to apologize when I find out I'm wrong about something I've stated publicly.

      So please explain what is it you do instead?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • McMannes

      No....it was written correctly. I, unlike many others, do not believe that atheists are inherently more intelligent than Christians. So, if I write something that portrays someone in a light of low-intelligence and/or as a coward, I do so to affect the writing and the character. Just as I am not an illiterate, snake-handling, country-bumpkin, who wants to shoot everyone with guns, I do not believe all atheists are insecure, dimwits as I portrayed n that story. 🙂 just having fun with someone else who is having fun with my my faith. I don't really care that much because I'm smart enough to know that we can't change each other....but it doesn't mean we can't poke at each other. If someone wants to protest this kid's speech, they should...to their hearts content. But there will be resistance. It's this resistance that makes life fun. If not, we'd be outside cutting the grass right now. ....and BTW, I liked your use of the words, "given time" .....as a Christian, I should use those words, as well. 🙂

      June 7, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • McMannes

      Tony, if I told you some of the things I did, I would be ashamed beyond reason. And yeah, I've had my share of tix (even with a dad who was a cop). Like I said above, I support everybody's right to object when someone else who is intruding on another person's rights. My main issue is that people tend to vilify us Christians when something like this happens. I believe in the separation of church and state just as most atheists do. I would not want to necessarily Have my child be bombarded with Islamic religious beliefs every day either. But if a valedictorian was Muslim and he wanted to read something from his culture or his religion, I honestly would have no problem with that and for that 45 seconds to a minute, I would just sit back and listen to what he had to say.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  19. sr

    It took a lot of courage? How does it take courage for a Christian in a Christian majority community to recite a Christian prayer?

    June 7, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • lol??

      Majority?? Followers are of the few.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      It took a lot of courage! Period.

      What a remarkable young man. If YOU had half his backbone, you'd be remarkable too. Any old carping fool can go with the flow and be told what to believe and when to believe it. What this lad did was fantastic!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Ann

      It took a lot of ego, not courage.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Vic

      That's not the point!

      What drove Roy Costner over the edge is the Freedom From Religion Foundation meddling his school's religious affairs over the past year and restricting student-led prayers at the school's board meetings!

      Standing up for student-led prayers is what's construed as courage!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @HeroesAreRare
      What he did took about as much courage as reciting The Theory of Relativity to a room full of physicists.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • The real Tom

      "Standing up for student-led prayers is what's construed as courage!"

      Only by morons who think italics gives their stupid comments traction.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • lol??

      Ann sayz,
      "It took a lot of ego, not courage."

      Get educated. The concept of ego came from a fraudulin Freudian.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The believers are always calling this a Christian nation, so how much courage could it have taken? How much courage would it take a student in Saudi Arabia to say something positive about Allah/Islam at a graduation?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • billfitt

      "Majority?? Followers are of the few."

      You think that because you only associate with Godless gays. Must be a sad isolated existence.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  20. Lieutenant Dunbar

    "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those mothers and grandmothers and daughters and sons and families of the native Americans who came before us preparing the way for the white man to come. Yes, it was a great price to pay to give up your lives on the trail of tears, but just look at what we have accomplished in your names and on your lands! Look at all the sports teams we have named after you! Look at the respect your heritage has engendered among the American people... Oh, and the spirits of their dead want to thank you for the blankets, they were so warm and full of small pox..."

    June 7, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • AtheistTed

      Native Americans were delusional people who believed in fairy tales. They were super-religious and didn't care for logical things like math and science. Their Gods did nothing to help them.

      They used their religion to start wars with other tribes.

      Atheists 1 Native Americans 0

      June 7, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      You have the right to say that. Just as Costner had the right to speak. What you say is true. What he did was truthful and I'm so glad that his peers thought the same.
      Isn't it great that so many American youngsters have integrity/ Pity the moaners and atheists can't recognize FAITH in God when they see it.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • The real Tom

      HAR, go sit on the ignorant bench with the rest of the idiots.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Lieutenant Dunbar

      "You have the right to say that." I agree, but what would have been the reaction do you think?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:36 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48
Advertisement
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.