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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. BJM

    Wait a second....The article says, "“This student is old enough to know that not everyone in the audience is Christian.”...well the student, and attorneys, and state, and federal government are old enough to know that not everyone in the audience is atheist.... Why is an atheist belief, or non-belief, allowed in schools, but not religious. Do we have to have one or the other?

    June 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • God

      BJ (is that short for something starting with BLOW?) what part of any law mentions Atheists? Now, and think slowly here, what law says, "NO PRAYERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS WHERE TAX-PAYERS PAY FOR YOUR KIDS EDUCATION?"

      June 7, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • BJM

        Troll comment. Your response has been invalidated.

        June 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • ME II

      What Atheist "belief"?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'Why is an atheist belief, or non-belief, allowed in schools, but not religious'

      in what way is atheist belief allowed in schools? do you have classes where the principle leads the students in claiming religion is bunk?
      not allowing rleigious belief in school is not allowing atheism instead, thats a nonsense claim.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • meifumado

      Do you know what country this is?

      Have you ever heard of separation of church and state?

      Also atheism is not a religion and it is not taught in schools.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      BJM: Go to the bottom of the page for the answer!

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

      Well, laws set up to disallow any religious actions in school are one thing. But an atheist is free to live exactly the way they want, no limits. A Christian, or Muslim, or Jew is not.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • lol??

      ME II sayz,
      "What Atheist "belief"?"

      Well if you call 1-666-HOLD HANDS WITH AN ATHEIST, they'll tell you about the converting, err conversion process facilitated by a mob.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'But an atheist is free to live exactly the way they want, no limits. A Christian, or Muslim, or Jew is not.'

      in what way? tell us how you are a victim

      June 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Grant

      That is not what is being put forth here, that is a logical fallacy called Strawmaning. No one goes up on stage and blatently pushes forth atheism in a High School graduation. What he did is clearly a violation of the first ammendment and just because no one was offended doesn't make it any less a violation. The rules have to apply to everyone, something that this student clearly felt wasn't true, the very act implies he felt above the rules. There is no reason anyones belief should make them exempt from respecting everyone elses rights and it isn't just non believers we also have to respect non Christian faiths as well and this was just as disrespectful to them. I don't follow why being Christian and a political belief should be allowed to supercede our basic human rights.

      Now I'm not calling for this kids head on a plate or anything, but I will condemn it. And no I don't care that it is a 'small' violation when we allow 'small' things we become more amenable to larger things. Every awful thing in human history started with 'small' violations of basic human rights

      June 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • ME II

      @BJM,
      "Well, laws set up to disallow any religious actions in school are one thing."

      Not sure which "thing" you were referring to, but this is incorrect. Students can pray all they want in school, as long as it is not disruptive. The law simply prohibits the government from endorsing one religion over another or none. Public schools are part of the government and the employees of public schools are government representatives and as such are not allowed to endorse particular religions either.

      "But an atheist is free to live exactly the way they want, no limits. A Christian, or Muslim, or Jew is not."

      Everyone has limits, even in the US. Why do you think the religious have more limits than non-religious?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  2. Janie

    Have your fun now idiot who calls himself "God," Capt. O and Mama K. Your real problem is not the US government but the king of Heaven. When you stand before the judgment seat of Christ Jesus, even the Supreme Court will not be able to help you because they will be there too. Jesus is coming back and it says in Revelation that his robe is dipped in blood. And some of it will be yours if you're still alive when it happens. Jesus said, "fear not him who can destroy the body (must less make some ugly posts on the Internet () mine) but fear him who can destroy the body and afterwards destroy the soul forever in Hell. You're going to Hell and there's nothing you can do about it. If I were you I would be afraid... very afraid.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • ME II

      Threats? Is that all you got, threats?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      you forgot to add............in his boundless love and mercy.
      you'll forgive me if im not exactly convinced.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Silly girl, imaginary friends are for children! Heaven, hell, god, jesus are all man-made concepts meant to fool the most gullible of people...there is no evidence outside of your buybull to support any of it. So telling a non-believer to be afraid is futile. We happen to care that our beliefs are based on evidence, you should try it sometime...it truly is enlightening.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Valedictorian

      Yeah thanks Janie this kind of talk turns everyone right around. SPREAD THE MESSAGE OF HIS TRUE WORD

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

      Stay away from children, you should not be allowed to own or possess firearms.
      Please seek help for your delusions, you are a potential threat to society.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Janie (and her useless threats) – somehow I'm just not convinced. Piss off...

      June 7, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  3. What a brilliant way

    to launch his new (and lucrative) career in televangelism

    June 7, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • meifumado

      lol

      June 7, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Another Mike Murdock. He has planted his seed.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  4. Seriously

    Lest we forget separation of church and state. Religion has NO PLACE in the public school system.

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

      You're talking about Tea Party Ally. If the law says ANYTHING that contradicts what they think they know about this country, they go OUT OF THEIR WAY to not follow it. Nothing changes. This isn't a religious issue, actually. Everyone in the South is Christian, big deal. Their culture is one of refusal to cooperate or co-exist. It just is. Many are nice enough people, but they're so stubborn and set in their ways that nothing will ever change. The reason for these faith-based initiatives is not so much about morality or anything, it's about sticking a finger into the chests of people who request they keep their traditions to themselves.

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

      @ darknesscrown
      And this is why we need the Dawkins idea of militant atheism.
      Shove it right back at them.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Seriously,

      No place for God in a "Public" place of educational practices does effectively make such educational practices "Private" by not allowing God and Godly practices to be publically orientated. Separation of Church and States is one thing but the separation of children and Godly ideals will not lead to anything of worthwhileness for the children's sakes. I was not raised in a godly family setting. I still yet do not know God personally. What I do know about God is that all celestial life is made up of Godly kingdom domains and it is 'inside these Celestial Life domains' where the family trees of Godly generations have taken up residencies living upon the insides of all matters of Celestial Life. We are all fleshly endowed buildings of Godly maintained residencies. At least, this is my beliefs of which I stand upon and humbly proclaim as a Truth to be so told. My body's Godly family treed generations are not your body's Godly family trees generations.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  5. Ed

    There shall be no cheers when Ba'al discovers your betrayal.

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

      Not to mention he really p.issed off my great lord Yog-Sothoth.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  6. TexInd

    What a shame! That this young man could not respect the taxpayers who paid for his education and that his family could not afford to send him to a private school. It seems the frustration of religious families not being able to provide for their families is being passed along to the children. Why don't these churches and families open up their own schools instead of trying to free load off taxpayers! No American family is owed a private religious education. This is not a socialist society!

    June 7, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  7. revbates

    This is the foolishness of religion. Our prayers should be between us and God. This young man is following his religion, but not the example of Jesus.

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

      Yes, you're right. Because Jesus never spoke out in public.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  8. AverageJoe76

    If one must give respect. Then give respect to the Old Gods and the New.

    Zeus, love the lighting bolt.
    Osiris, pull yourself together, man – c'mon.
    Allah, holla at me, we gotta talk.
    KRS One, you're not the God of hip-hop. Trinidad James is.
    Yahweh, I got nothing for you.... sorry. But I am having a BBQ on the 4th, and you're invited. OK?

    June 7, 2013 at 11:48 am |
  9. tony

    There are officially religious countries he could move to . . . .

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

      . . . .but they typically don't have the high salaries, internal freedoms and huge armaments that we do

      June 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  10. chris

    So... what should I do if almost every public high school in the state of Kentucky recites the lords prayer by the class president as the opening ceremony every year? Is there someone I should contact? I'm being serious. lamarmakespizza@gmail.com if anyone has any advice. I have no problem with religion but I can't tell you how uncomfortable it makes me as a nonreligious person. thankfully my own high school is a little more civilized than that, we said the pledge of allegiance instead....

    June 7, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • meifumado

      Demand equal time to say your own prayer or whatever. If it were me I would say the lords prayer backwards to tick them off.
      You can take it to court and you can win.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Ann

      It depends on how far you want to take it, Chris.

      You could contact the school board, the principal, the state board of education. You could write a letter to the editor of the local paper. If you know other nonbelievers who might share your view, you could ask them if they'd like to join you and present your case as a group.

      However, you have to realize that it is very unlikely you'll avoid being attacked and ridiculed for bringing this up. Just look at these comments.

      The best way to gain support is by writing your statements carefully. Don't attack Christianity – the "god-is-love" folks will turn rabid in an instant. Support their right to their beliefs, but just talk about how school is not an appropriate setting.

      I'm a federal employee, and I recently raised an objection to a very religious email that was sent out to all staff by one of our senior managers. It was supposedly about Memorial Day, but after a cursory mention of our fallen troops, it was mostly about how "all" military and their families were so comforted by god's love, that we should show our support by reading the bible. It even suggested that we should read Psalm 91 aloud. (Psalm 91, by the way, is a sort of protection charm that tells you what words to say so you'll be safe from war, storms, pestilence, that kind of thing. It mentions god as having feathers.)

      Well, I just didn't think I could let that one go by without saying something, so I contacted the manager's supervisor. I mentioned that I was the widow of a combat vet, and appreciated the reminder that Memorial Day was about more than burgers and picnics. However, it's also not a christian holiday, and the management was wrong to send out a message encouraging bible reading anyway, even if it was.

      The supervisor agreed. I didn't make a big public stink about it, but I think I got my point across.

      Good luck.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Commenter

      Good job, Ann. Well done.

      And good luck, chris.

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

    He forgot to thank God for not letting a tornado rip through the school and killing students.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  12. Get thee behind me satan

    The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.
    Samuel Chadwick

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

      I don't want to get behind your nasty self. Why don't you do it yourself?

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

      Oh and I don't tremble when you pray. I mean, do you REALLY visualize me trembling when you pray? Do you realize that's kinda mentally ill? You're picturing a being that's over 2 thousand years old...trembling when you pray. Megalomaniac!

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

      Just got a scarier thought...I bet you think you're really talking to Satan right now....

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

      ...or at least reading his responses to your silly post...

      June 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • cedar rapids

      Thats a bizarre quote. Makes it sound like christians need to be prayer ocd in order to beat satan.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • meifumado

      “Satan has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years!”
      ― Anton Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible

      June 7, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Satan

      It's true, I do LOVE christians, they keep me alive and well!

      June 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  13. palintwit

    Pack up your temperature sensors, your climate-modeling supercomputers, your tree and ice core sample equipment. Sarah Palin has spoken on climate change, and she says it’s snowing in Alaska, ergo “global warming my gluteus maximus." And you know it’s science because she used the Latin word for “ass.”

    Palin only backs winning horses like John McCain, Bristol and Levi’s marriage, and her own gubernatorial career, so if she says climate science is a non-starter then by god, we’re just going to throw in the towel.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  14. tony

    He forgot to pass around his collection plate . . . . . .

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

      Yeah, I need a new palace in South Carolina!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    Christians:
    Lead by example in quiet dignity and grace and you'll find that the spirit you wish to convey will be received by more people than if you shout it from the rooftops.

    June 7, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  16. Alex

    In a speech made in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said,
    "We have been the receipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prospertiy; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

    June 7, 2013 at 11:38 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 11:39 am |
    • Matt

      "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

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

      Hey matt, since I'm in the bible, I'm there too! Wanna cuddle?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • ME II

      These resolutions and proclamations do not hold the power of law, i.e. they are not binding on anyone.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • cedar rapids

      so he said this whilst slavery was going on? yay what good christians they were back in those days, to be blessed by god, who apparently had no issue with slavery.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • mama k

      Lincoln had a deep respect for people who were spiritual, but he was seen by many as a Deist.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  17. Colin

    Dear Graduating Class:

    God here.

    I don’t care whether he prayed or not. In fact, I don’t care about anything, because, you see, I do not exist. Is not the concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being (age of the Universe) capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the actions and thoughts of the 7 billion human beings on this planet utterly ludicrous?

    Look, if I did exist, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Greco-Roman Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was compiled with certain writings included and others excluded, nor how it has been edited over the centuries, yet you cite it for the most extraordinary of supernatural claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Greco-Roman Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smitten all you Christian activists, and all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric even for a sick, sadistic bast.ard like me to contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you cringed in fear during the Dark Ages and thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.

    God

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

      Colin,

      The universe is so big and complex, in fact, that the idea that it somehow came together randomly is even more ludicrous than believeing that is was created by an Intelligent Being. Almost as ludicrous as creating a letter written by a Being who states that He never existed in the very letter that he is writing. I do find it a little odd that you, and other like you, love to point out how "small-minded" Christians are, while you are completely ripping apart their religion. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor; I am sorry that this apparently has not been your experience with people who calim to be Christians.

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

      Colin:
      Brilliant. I couldn't agree with you more.

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

      Sean, you're a bit of a blow hard aren't you? Kinda full of yourself and your righteousness?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Eightandsix

      I am always intrigued by people who choose to deny the existence of a god based on the absurdity of the attributes that they ascribe to such a being.

      Your arguments are irrational. Science does not result in atheism, logic does not require it. It is your own zealous belief that makes you so sure - not what we have learned about the world around us.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Jeannine

      Colin,
      I listened to an interview by Jeffrey Dalmer. He basically said what you did. He said if we are animals, why not do what we desire. Why not use people & kill them if by doing it, it provides some pleasure. He did not believe in God. Therefore he had no remorse for what he did & the sadness he inflicted on his victims family.
      Then he went to jail. He found Jesus & realized how wrong he was.
      I truly hope you do find God. Maybe then you would be okay with people & their beliefs.
      My biggest question to you is why do you work so hard to try to wreck or bring harm to others by loudly saying there is NO GOD? Do their beliefs injure you in some manner or is it that you worship something else?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Happy Atheist

      @Sean – The supposed God who created the universe that is so big and complex, must in fact, be even more big and complex so that the idea that he somehow came together randomly is even more ludicrous than believing that he was created by a bigger more complex Intelligent Being...

      June 7, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • God

      Jeaninne (that's a lot of letters for two syllables) did you just say that Jeffery Dahlmer found Jesus in jail? What's Jesus doing in Jail? I told him, "you bad boy! You haven't visited your minions for ages and they are starting to doubt you" and then you put him in jail? Ok, my son does deserve to serve a life sentence for his lies, but really, which jail is he in?

      June 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Colin

      Sean, no scientist thinks it "Came together randomly".

      Jeanine. I don't seek to harm anybody. Relgion also causes a lot of harm.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • The real Tom

      Sean yaps: "more ludicrous than believeing that is was created by an Intelligent Being."

      There is no "believeing" that an intelligent being wrote your post, idiot.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Sean

      Colin,

      How else did it come together? Did these particles "decide" to come together? I mean, the basic premise of evolution (depending on which of several different versions you subscribe to) is that given enough time enough "chances" were created that molecules formed etc. The theory (underline theory here) flies completely in the face of the Second law (underline law) of Thermodynamics that states that in a closed system (which you have without an Creator) things tend to go from a state of order to disorder. Evolution and Creationism are both theroies: neither can or have been proven. I don't expect everyone to believe in Creation as fact. But I also don't get why people who believe in Evolution can't just admit that it is an unprovable theory that, as such, is on an equal plane with whatever other theory might be out there.

      Whoever was talkin circles about God needing to have been created by an even higher being etc.,

      I think that you concept of God is too small. He is God; you CAN'T comprehend Him. If you could, he wouldn't be God. That is the point. Why would a rational person (go ahead and make your comments about the use of the word "rational") choose to serve a God that he or she could undertand completely? If that was the case, i would worship myself.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Sean the boob: "How else did it come together?"

      What is wrong with an honest answer? What is it about "we don't know" that bothers idiots like you so much? Why do you have to lie to yourselves and pretend that some invisible fairy poofed the universe into existence?

      You lie to yourselves because you're afraid.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Sean

      The Real Tom,

      I think that you didn't read what I said. I DID just admit that i served a God that i couldn't comprehend completely and also believed in a theory of Creation that i couldn't prove. How is that not being honest? I would say the same to the Evolutionists out there: just admit that you can't prove your theory and be honest about it.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Colin

      Sean. Give me a minute. You have raised a few points.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'The theory (underline theory here) flies completely in the face of the Second law (underline law) of Thermodynamics that states that in a closed system (which you have without an Creator) things tend to go from a state of order to disorder'

      Actually the theory says 'over time'. Eventually the Universe may very well turn to entropy, we havent gotten to that time yet.
      And as for life on the Earth, well the earth isnt a closed system, it is affected by outside forces, such as the sun, meteors, etc.
      And dont try to claim creationism has the same footing as evolution as a theory because it doesnt. Any theory that claims that it was magic, which what any claim for a god is, is not a scientific theory.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Colin

      Sean you said

      How else did it come together? Did these particles "decide" to come together? I mean, the basic premise of evolution (depending on which of several different versions you subscribe to) is that given enough time enough "chances" were created that molecules formed etc. The theory (underline theory here) flies completely in the face of the Second law (underline law) of Thermodynamics that states that in a closed system (which you have without an Creator) things tend to go from a state of order to disorder. Evolution and Creationism are both theroies: neither can or have been proven. I don't expect everyone to believe in Creation as fact. But I also don't get why people who believe in Evolution can't just admit that it is an unprovable theory that, as such, is on an equal plane with whatever other theory might be out there.

      You are mixing up a few concepts here. Evolution only deals with the way organisms evolve on Earth. It has nothing to say about the formation of atoms, molecules, stars or planets. That is to say, it says nothing of the first 9,000,000,000 years of the history of the Universe.

      As far as evolution is concerned, it is a fact. It has been independently verified by DNA mapping. We share about 98% of our genes with chimpanzees, slightly less with gorillas, even less with orangutans etc. It coincides perfectly with how biologists have been interpreting the fossil record and is developed completely independently of it. It is also why germs build up resistance to antibiotics and where all breeds of dog come from (they all evolved from wolves).
      The Second Law of Thermodynamics only operates in a system with no energy flowing into it. The Earth is not such a closed system. The sun provides billions of joules of energy to the Earth every day.

      You said:

      Whoever was talkin circles about God needing to have been created by an even higher being etc.,I think that you concept of God is too small. He is God; you CAN'T comprehend Him. If you could, he wouldn't be God. That is the point. Why would a rational person (go ahead and make your comments about the use of the word "rational") choose to serve a God that he or she could undertand completely? If that was the case, i would worship myself.

      You can’t have it both ways. You cannot say the Universe must have a creator because it is complex then turn around and say that creator (who would need to be more complex than his creation) does not need to be created. Why not just say the Universe was “always there.” Positing God as a “solution” to anything is not answering the question, it is simply shunting the issue upstairs to some unreachable, unknowable sky-fairy. All we have done is put a halo on a question mark and run away from the challenge.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • A rotten sinner, whom sins have been payed for with Jesus Christ's Precious Blook

      I must say that the Bible has said woe to those that call good evil, woe to those that call evil good.
      We are living in such a day. The Liberals, Satan, lucifer worshippers, and any one else that mocks Christians,
      or Christ, are doing the devils work, they dont even realize that they are owned by Satan. They blindly follow
      him etc. We are sick of hearing the bull of seperation of church and state, it has been so twisted by these satan followers
      that they try to confuse the country that it is illegal to speak about your faith, or Christian beliefs.
      In 1963 when the Supreme court ordered that religion couldnt be practiced in public schools, but if you look at NJ, only Christians or our principals couldnt be taught or forced onto others, but if this was not so, then why do our kids have off, frompublic school for Jewish holidays like yom kipper or rash hasshanna, I am sure I spelled that wrong.
      this is why Liberalism is a mental disorder.
      We Christians are tired of Jews desacrating our HOLY days, like Christmas or Easter, and calling them winter recess
      or Spring Break....get real.....we know what you are tying, Satan is your boss, your king.
      We see no such desacration of muslim or jew holy days........why?
      Jesus Christ has spoken to us thru the bible, and we know it will not be an easy road.
      Thats why we a christians do pray for any one that is not saved from hell.
      As long as a non beliver is breathing, they still have a hope to be saved.
      Remember when Christ was on the Cross, who was on each side of him,
      on the left, was a picture of the liberal world, they dont want salvation, they mock, even until the last
      breath, which is so true to today.
      On the right of Christ was a picture of the Belivers of today, they want salvation, and want the blood of Jesus
      to cover our sins, and are sorry for commiting sins against GOD.
      Sadly life is short, and then the Judgement for your life, either paraidse or hell, for evermore.
      Remember to the non beliver, hell never ends, you cant escape, close your eyes and picture the darkness
      that is what Satan gives, there really is a great option or choice.
      As for me, I want Christ, I want my sins forgiven.
      Remember Lots wife, dont look back at the old life.
      Praise be to Jesus the Christ, son of God........thank you Jesus

      June 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      sorry rotten sinner but you are also hell bound. You are an obvious hater, and your bible says you will be barred from heaven because of it. not my rules, sorry

      June 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  18. Truth Prevails :-)

    Given how many christians just can't seem to grasp how VERY wrong this defiant little boy was, here are the facts:
    "Keep the Church and State Forever Separate
    Should Students Pray in Public Schools?

    Public schools exist to educate, not to proselytize. Children in public schools are a captive audience. Making prayer an official part of the school day is coercive and invasive. What 5, 8, or 10-year-old could view prayers recited as part of class routine as "voluntary"? Religion is private, and schools are public, so it is appropriate that the two should not mix. To introduce religion in our public schools builds walls between children who may not have been aware of religious differences before.

    Why Should Schools Be Neutral?

    Our public schools are for all children, whether Catholic, Baptist, Quaker, atheist, Buddhist, Jewish, agnostic. The schools are supported by all taxpayers, and therefore should be free of religious observances and coercion. It is the sacred duty of parents and churches to instill religious beliefs, free from government dictation. Institutionalizing prayers in public schools usurps the rights of parents.

    School prayer proponents mistake government neutrality toward religion as hostility. The record shows that religious beliefs have flourished in this country not in spite of but because of the constitutional separation of church and state.

    Even Jesus Was Against School Prayer

    "Thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men...

    "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret." – Matt. 6:5-6"

    http://ffrf.org/faq/item/14029-prayer-in-public-school

    June 7, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      Sadly, most Christians don't really care what Jesus was for or against. They only care about cherry-picking the Bible for select passages that support their own bigoted and irrational views.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • whole truth

      Responding to “Truth Prevails”:

      First off, you have misinterpreted the bible. You can’t take the bible out of context to prove that Jesus was against school prayer. The verses you quoted were being directed to the Pharisees who were in error when they prayed. Jesus looks to the heart and he understood that this group of people was not praying from the heart.

      Was Jesus against Public Prayer in Schools?

      No. To say that Jesus was against prayer is just absurd and a gross misinterpretation by those who are against his will. Only usurpers consider prayer to be opposite of what it really is. Prayer comes in different forms and can be something inherently good. When my kids were in grade school we formed a prayer group consisting of mothers who met every week (on school grounds) to pray for the children, teachers, and administrators of our school. This did no harm to anyone, instead it brought goodness and peace to everyone involved.

      Jesus 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.”

      I am not afraid of confessing who I am in a public setting in front of all those who oppose what I stand for and believe in.

      Prayer in Public is a Human Right

      The fact is that we use our rights to pray in a public setting and nobody should be negated this basic human right. Prayer is part of who I am and I have every right to outwardly demonstrate it by starting a prayer group in a public setting. Reading a speech that includes a prayer at a school graduation is a demonstration of who I am and should also be considered my right. Freedom of Speech is a human right!

      June 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Bob

      "whole truth", that old context argument gets a big fail whale.A complete and utter FAIL. You idiot. Think this over:

      Why can't your deity come up with a way to communicate than one that is so susceptible to being taken out of context, or to myriad different interpretations.

      For that matter, why can't god produce a modern website, or even push some tweets out?

      The reason is that your god obviously does not exist, stupid.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bob

      "whole truth", that old context argument gets a big fail whale.A complete and utter FAIL. You idiot. Think this over:

      Why can't your deity come up with a better way to communicate than one that is so susceptible to being taken out of context, or to myriad different interpretations.

      For that matter, why can't god produce a modern website, or even push some tweets out?

      The reason is that your god obviously does not exist, stupid.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  19. D

    People like this who have to "show off", demonstrate their faith in public in fact are the most fake religious people in the world. It's like they have to prove to everyone how "righteous" they are. This kid is no more than a completely fake Christian.

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

      “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 11:36 am |
    • Valedictorian

      I mean it's not like this is a country that has heard of Christianity before...it's not like Christians go door to door or have whole TV channels to themselves...it's not like we advertise or anything!! We need to get THE WORD out because there's NO WAY people are TIRED as hell of hearing this same crap over and over!! You can NEVER blather on long enough about THE LORD!

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

      @val...em, I think a good 2 thousand years has given you enough media on your lord.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • lol??

      Yeah, the Big O made a big show of throwing Wright under a fake school bus.

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

      Geez...so now we're not even real Christians anymore? We're fake Christians? Well, if that's the case.....YAY!!!!! Nobody has anything to worry about because we're all fake! YAY!! Let the speeches commence! Bwahahahaha.....I love Christian haters...err.....Atheists...cough cough...in God's way. Haha...

      June 7, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • lol??

      In the olden days at his age you were real cannon fodder, UNLESS of course your name was Bush or Clinton.

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

      McM....your mocking behavior will be noted by GOD and he will not tolerate your childishness forever.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      McMannes is a dovche.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      douche

      June 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • whole truth

      For those of you ("Q") 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 12:09 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      '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.'

      so you have a go about those that misuse the praying in secret because it was jesus talking to phrarisees but have no issue with using a phrase that jesus used when he was talking to his disciples?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  20. Science

    Post a comment on link bellow

    http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/06/valedictorian-breaks-school-rule-recites-lords-prayer-during-graduation-speech/#comment-190908

    June 7, 2013 at 11:33 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.