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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. tony

    I grew up in the UK in the 50's, so we all said the lords prayer every morning at govt school assembly.

    But the Catholics had to go their own assembly, for that same reason.

    So there is the problem right away. Which of our two groups brought which god to school?

    June 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Typically, the last one still standing after battle had god on THEIR side...

      June 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  2. Anita

    Good for him. Nothing wrong with standing up for something you believe in. If you don't like, don't listen to it.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • STFU

      but that was not his private party; he should have respected the school regulations.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Liz

      That would be the difference between a captive audience in a school, and, for instance, someone praying in a park. It's harder for a captive audience not to listen.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I wonder if Germans/Poles in the towns adjacent to Auschwitz thought the same thing... If you don't like it, don't look at it...

      June 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      It was his day, and he worked hard to be on podium., do not like it, do not pay attention. just not be a hindu atheist, ignorant self centered and spoil his day, Period.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • ME II

      So, you're forcing people to decide between hearing a prayer they may not want to hear and attending their own graduation ceremony. Why should they have to decide?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Islam bot hurting headism. Needs to buy some facts ism and U.S. law ism.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Anita, what if he had been standing up for something you don't believe in? What if he was advocating Islam-run schools with full hajibs for girls and Koran memorization for boys? Would your comment be exactly the same?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • STFU

      Mohammad, what if he had done something irritations like striped his clothes off, would you have still considered "It was his day, and he worked hard to be on podium"? When people are on podium, they are not there to speak their mind, but to carry out the assigned tasks.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Nestle Foundation of Ovalt ine

      You always make me chuckle 🙂

      June 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • STFU

      sorry it was irrational, not "irritations"

      June 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      But he did not follow hindu evil ism, criminal self center ism, as you hind, speculate, but he invoked truth absolute GOD, what is your problem, hindu atheist, ignorant self centered.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • not hard to respect others

      If Jesus wanted some of that audience to hear a message, they were free to come hear him... Jesus never broke the law and hi-jacked a meeting after lying about what he was going to say. Quite different isn't it? You are just making excuses for your cult-of-westboro to get special consideration. How would you like it if someone invited a VooDoo priest to speak to those kids, delivered a message of smoking medicinal herbs and everyone in the audience had to breathe his smoke? Hmmmmmmmmm? You wouldn't. Be honest and educated. Whether a cult dominate a hick town or a large city, in the good ole USA, it cannot step on the rights of other believers by imposing its dogma on everyone in a public event like a school graduation. You CAN do that in a private church school because everyone there can be assumed to be of that one ilk.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • ME II

      "lying about what he was going to say"

      I'd didn't even think of that. lol

      June 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  3. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Good morning, it's morning in Pakistan, and I am depressed already.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • meifumado

      Of course you are, who would not be in that cesspool of a country.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  4. CommonSensed

    I wonder what would have happened if he was a wiccan and spoke up for wiccan gods?

    Now THAT would have been entertaining.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • meifumado

      Exactly, or if he had said the lords prayer backwards. =)

      June 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • kennyzales

      One would hope that in a country founded on principles of freedom of speech and choice of belief (or lack thereof) and freedom from religious persecution he would be able to express his beliefs, whether they be Christian, Wiccan or Atheist. He was granted time to express his views and he did so thoughtfully and eloquently. The audience did what respectful people do: They paused and listened.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'kennyzales – One would hope that in a country founded on principles of freedom of speech and choice of belief (or lack thereof) and freedom from religious persecution he would be able to express his beliefs, whether they be Christian, Wiccan or Atheist'

      Thats nice and all but here in the real world we know the result would have been different.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  5. CommonSensed

    Way to stick it to the other religions and speak up for your god!

    Tool.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  6. Jesse from KC

    Honestly, what's the problem here?

    Prayer is not banned in schools. Mandated prayer is banned from schools, time spent away from the classroom to pray is banned (though this is largely to prevent people from abusing this). School officials leading a prayer is banned. But if a kid wants to pray, or a group of kids want to start a religious club, that's their right.

    I'm an Atheist and am ALL for getting rid of religion as a whole... But there was no harm done here... It's just sad that so many people believe in something that is so obviously utter rubbish.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • MikeOnABike

      Sorry, but you are incorrect.

      Lee v Weisman (505 US 577, 1992) is THE ruling that makes it entirely clear that prayer at school-sponsored functions is verboten. Pay particular attention to Anthony Kennedy's words here, writing for the majority:

      "As we have observed before, there are heightened concerns with protecting freedom of conscience from subtle coercive pressure in the elementary and secondary public schools. Our decisions in [Engel] and [Abington] recognize, among other things, that prayer exercises in public schools carry a particular risk of indirect coercion. The concern may not be limited to the context of schools, but it is most pronounced there. What to most believers may seem nothing more than a reasonable request that the nonbeliever respect their religious practices, in a school context may appear to the nonbeliever or dissenter to be an attempt to employ the machinery of the State to enforce a religious orthodoxy."

      This is now known as the "coercion test." Also, consider the points of the Lemon test. Under Lemon v. Kurzman (1971), the court ruled that these three criteria must be met to AVOID violating the separation clause:

      Have a secular purpose;
      Must neither advance nor inhibit religion; and
      Must not result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion.

      This young man's prayer obviously fails this test, if on nothing else the first point.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'But if a kid wants to pray, or a group of kids want to start a religious club, that's their right'

      if a kid wants to pray in private....yep.
      if a group of kids want to pray in private.....yep

      that is not however what this kid did.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • meifumado

      I don't believe your an atheist.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Jesse,

      who said there was a problem here?

      This guy used his platform as valedictorian to stage a political protest. He was a gesture. It meant something to him. Frankly giving him 15 minutes of fame for it overplays its relevance.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • ME II

      @Mikeonabike,
      I'm not certain that it is entirely clear whether this was "government action" or not. Certainly, the graduation was, and the administration did specify 'no mention of God' in the speech, but the student did it anyway.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Avoice

      to mike on a bike – prayer excersizes or mandated prayer or a school system employee or teacher is one thing. But a student expressing a thought or prayer is quite another. It would be a very sad day if someone expressing a peaceful thought or idea anywhere is censored by the government.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • ME II

      @Avoice,
      "It would be a very sad day if someone expressing a peaceful thought or idea anywhere is censored by the government."

      I guess it depends on what you consider peaceful.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  7. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Roy's doche beard is rockin'! I see all manner of rapie things in his future...

    June 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      douche

      June 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  8. Byrd

    God doesn't need help from ignorant peons. He did it for self-aggrandizement alone, just like Tebow.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  9. Portland tony

    Your God, my god......Discourse concerning religion belong in your church, a discussion group with your family etc.....It's a personal subject......of course High School Valedictorian verbiage is soon forgotten, so this is not an earth shaking story...So if this dude's god got him through a tough math. class....so be it. But to succeed in post high school life..... He'll need more than prayer?

    June 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      His god, their god, my god, no god... everybody sing "POP MUSIC!"

      June 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  10. Patti

    If he wants a public forum for his religious beliefs, it should be in church. He probably "prayed" this would bring him a lot of attention.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jesse from KC

      It's funny to me that what "God told him to do" was something he already WANTED to do in the first place.

      Funny how that always seems to be the case. "God" confirms our pre-conceived ideas. "God" always seems to agree with what we already think...

      Hmm...

      June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bryan

      That's the way you see it, KC. Often for Christians God calls us to do things we DON'T want to do.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Ann

      Really, Bryan? Got an example for us?

      Man made god in his own image.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  11. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    Nothing is invisible of truth absolute GOD, he is visible in minds of realize rs of truth absolute in life. A plane can not fly, without truth constant of its design, nor a human can live without truth absolute of his heart beat, Truth absolute GOD, foundation of American consti tution is every where, but hindu atheist, ignorant self centered have no desire to realize HIM.Think and realize truth absolute GOD, because there is none other, but truth absolute GOD.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • STFU

      Hasta la vista, Mohammad baby !!

      June 7, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Lee

      Alright who was it? Who gave the nutjob a computer?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Islam bot hurting bad headism. Lack of facts ism.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • NickZadick

      It is truly amazing to me how so many people believe that these fables and parables are in some way factual.... I don't see how you can function in society thinking these fairy tales are true !

      June 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Hammer of the Gods

      Have some more Kool-Aid

      June 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Honey Badger Don't Care

    And then he goes to college and learns that you actually have to know something about life to get by.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • mouthpiece of the lord

      Nope. He'll go to Bob Jones 'University' or most likely, since he is now a cult-recognized martyr, follow in his Daddy's footsteps and start his own cult-of-Westboro ministry. That's where the big money is. Kid knows what he's doin'

      June 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  13. Nancybee

    Will he go through life giving "the finger" to the established rules? Why can't we all do that, and descend into anarchy?

    June 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Adam

      The "funny" thing is, is that the it is very plausible that because of what he believes to be true about the Bible, he believes that the worse things get here on earth, the closer we are to the greatest thing ever to happen–the coming of Jesus and the destruction of the world.

      Beliefs matter, folks. We should all be worried about bad beliefs, held for bad reasons, leading to bad behaviors.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • lol??

      AAaahhh, the descent of man into anarchy. That's only an eye blink to the tyranny we have. You must have missed it.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  14. Shodori

    Would you clap now... just wait till the first muslim or devil worshiper does the same and will you clap them?

    You will applaud as long as you agree with them not nessessarily the content.

    That is why worship is not allowed in public schools or are you going to spin a wheel with all the religions on it to see which one your school has to follow.

    Kids go to school to learn not pray(except before pop quizes and tests)... if you want them to send them to a private church school.

    and i'm not an atheist

    June 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Just abstain, if you do not like some thing, let a person make hindu fool of himself, but let him have his right.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Bryan

      One of the most important things kids need to learn is religion. No, not just their own or whichever is most prominent. People need to learn about all the religions simply for the ability to understand people of different cultures. Keeping religion out of schools does little but to increase religious hatred on all sides.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      It is not his right, Islam bot. Read what MikeOnABike wrote...if you can understand it with hurting headism.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  15. James Gray

    It doesn't take courage to recite a Christian prayer in a nation leans heavily toward Christianity.

    Now, if he had said a Muslim prayer . . . THAT would have been courageous.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • lol??

      The only vestiges of Christianity left in the Beast is the now corrupted triune branches.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  16. Liz

    Public schools are for educating everyone, not just Christians. No one would be praising a muslim or an atheist for doing the same thing. What the student did is wrong. To be honest, though, I don't care, should, but don't. The south is keeping themselves down by placing belief over education, stupid over thought. It's the south, not really surprising to see close-mindedness and intolerance down there.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • James Gray

      Ignorance goes hand-in-hand with faith everywhere, not just the South.

      The concept of "faith" is believing in something even when there's no evidence. Or, to put it another way, it's a willful ignoring of the facts in order to believe something you want to believe.

      He's just another poor kid brainwashed by his parents and his community into ignoring facts, logic, and common sense.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Liz

      Ignorance and intolerance is everywhere, of course, not just the south. The south does seem to be proud of the fact they have more than their share.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • LAL

      I do not think what the student did was wrong. (I am agnostic.) His valedictory speech is a statement of his opinion and of what he felt was responsible for his success and of his guiding principles. He is not an employee of the school or of the government. He was not given a script by the school or government. It was opinion only.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • lol??

      Gray, you just failed with you definition of faith. Remove hoof from mouth.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @lal, he didn't give a speech. he said a prayer.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Allison Whaley

      Liz, Your comment about the south is what makes northerns look like arrogant, self rightous jerks. I'm a southern and VERY proud of it. I'm proud that we still think it is important to teach our children about God and other religions. I'm very proud of this young man for what he did. Living in this area I have watched the news coverage of the fight to keep prayer in the school board meetings in this county. He stood up for what he believed in just like I am sure you have done before. Just because northerns want to take God out of everything does not mean that we have to follow. Maybe northern people should learn to be nice and friendly like us southerns.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • now why did you go there

      Liz, be aware that SC, where doofus members of the cult-of-westboro started the Civil War, is still "fighting it". Not joking. Cue the "yer a'goin' ta hay-yull (SC southern for hell) yew dam yankeeeeee" replies. What you said is accurate.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  17. snowboarder

    children at this age are stretching their wings. a challenge to authority like this is normal. chide him sternly and move on.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  18. Proud

    I am very proud of this young man. Good for you! The out pouring of emotion and jubilation by the students is very telling. The principal was uneasy not because he/she disagreed with the act but because they know on Monday some parent(s) will threaten to sue and cry over this.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Luigi

      so you think wht he did at the comencement was right? Was appropriate? What about the non-christian kids and families that had to hear everyone cheer, like a mob. What about how he made them feel at their own graduation celebration?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • JFCanton

      We may or may not be proud of him, but what I want to know is how could complaints be anything BUT whining?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Shodori

      I want to walk around with a sword strapped to my back... it doesn't hurt anyone and it makes me look good. Why should i have laws... heck lets make it sticks of dynamite strapped to much chest. Its just a look right.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • stingisthetruth

      Luigi, allow me to introduce you to the 1st amendment.
      Which amendment forbids being offended?
      Don't like it? Tough.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Kristi

      AMEN!

      June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Which amendment forbids being offended?
      Don't like it? Tough.'

      By the same token, displays such as the one made by this kid are not allowed so........
      Which amendment forbids being offended?
      Don't like it? Tough.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Let it be clear that minors in schools don't have full rights to free speech anyway-hence the approved valedictory address. But laws have credibility because they prevent harm, not because they prevent the occasional annoyance. A law intending specifically to prevent prayer in or regarding schools has to be carefully formulated to be credible. It's much more legitimate to complain about schools implicitly allowing this everyday than to be concerned about random events-even if those random events are totally predictable.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  19. Bob

    People standing up cheering for a man who just made it through a scholastic learning experience yet he feels like his make believe flying unicorn is what led him down the path lol wow please let religion die soon....

    June 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Science

      Bob I agree !

      No god(s) needed..........but physics is required.............and it works every time.

      Quantum Teleportation Between Atomic Systems Over Long Distances

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130606140844.htm

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

      June 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • lol??

      Flying unicorns will burn, too.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Science

      lol?? ............where is your buddy .............chad ...........is chad stuck in a black hole above and below stars ?

      June 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • stingisthetruth

      Freedom of speech. Are you familiar with the concept?
      Whine some more, son. The smartest person in that school, smarter than you.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • karl

      smartest kid in high school...my engineering degree may make me slightly more educated and the fact that the smarter you become the less inclined you are to believe in fantasies

      June 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Science

      Hey stingisthetruth...............go post a comment on the link above !

      Separation of Church and State failed with this __________________ !

      June 7, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Science

      From the link above.................the truth !

      Just Josh...............big clue below.............history..........The Federal Reserve is a private bank .

      U.S. Department of the Treasury ............all about money........... religion that is no gods required !

      About
      Home » About » Education » History of 'In God We Trust'
      History of 'In God We Trust'

      http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx

      June 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • stingisthetruth

      Hey science. Apparently the concept of freedom of speech is one you need some remedial work on.
      The valedictorian is not the government. He may say what he likes, and the separation of church and state is precisely what rules out the STATE regulating his speech.
      If the school had promoted the prayer, then you'd have an argument. But he did that of his own free will, and the state has no justification to restrict his speech. It wasn't a threat. It wasn't fighting words. It wasn't crying fire in a room where there was none.
      It is doubly ironic given your chosen screen name, that you are willfully ignoring the FACTS.
      Seems like you have your own religion, which you are having trouble giving up. Well the 1st amendment protects your right to say unintelligent things.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Science

      Public sponsored event with tax dollars .........separation of church and state failed . Remember to leave post at link above !

      June 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Science

      Hey stingisthetruth. and chadie too...................CERN ..............no gods needed !

      Twenty years on, the Web faces new openness challenges

      CERN set the Web on fire by releasing open sof-t-ware without royalty payment requirements. Two decades later, proprietary technology has found a foothold.

      http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57582075-93/twenty-years-on-the-web-faces-new-openness-challenges/?tag=nl.e703&s_cid=e703&ttag=e703

      June 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Since when is quantum behavior a quantifiable reason for buying a non-God universe? An action that we can describe but cannot explain would fairly scream of an invisible hand if it wasn't couched as a "theory." The best it can do on the materialist side is confirm pre-existing preferences.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  20. John

    Good thing he didn't talk about college in his speech. I am opposed to college in any form, and would be offended by him bringing it up.

    June 7, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • lol??

      Seminaries are the worst. Dialectical to the core, thanks to Bloom and his classifyin' disguised as wisdom.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
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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.