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. Colin

    Meanwhile, proud parents in Iran clap as their graduating son says a prayer to Allah at his graduation, proud Hindus in India beam with joy as their daughter thanks the Lord Brahma for being valedictorian of her school and a Buddhist in Tibet thanks Buddha for being accepted into a USA college.

    That’s the thing about our gods, we don’t even choose them. It is all a matter of geography. If this kid was brought up in Tel Aviv he would be thanking Yahweh. He likely put more thought into choosing his college, or indeed last night’s dinner, than he did into choosing his religion.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Colin

      To be fair, Dinner is a super important meal with a lot of logistics to think about. What did you have yesterday? What would be good to balance my diet. Do I have the food to make a specific meal? Do I need to go to a grocery store? What about going out to eat or ordering in? Do I have the funding for a nice meal?

      The questions are endless. Whereas What god should I choose?

      Well, my parents are catholic, so...... I'm a catholic now.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  2. JerryG1

    We should establish no religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof. Agree.
    But, have we established a religion of the God-less as our official religion?

    June 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      Did you know that a Jewish woman's boobs are technically known as Jewbs?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • ME II

      @JerryG1,
      What exactly would that be? Atheism is not a religion.

      Also, "no law... prohibiting the free exercise thereof" prevents exactly that.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Madtown

      You answered your own question in your first sentence.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @jerry, just no official religion as the founders of this nation intended.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Atheism isn't a religion per se, but we probably ought to lay out what the permissible parameters are: cf. the description of Objectivism as a religion.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  3. golly winkies

    Golly, these CNN entries sure do hit close to home for cult-of-westboro robots. It's as if they don't want the truth exposed.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • shaun

      The pledge of allegiance currently says " one nation under God" Id sat that is pretty cut and dry.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @shaun, of what relevance is that?

      June 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • derp

      "The pledge of allegiance currently says " one nation under God" Id sat that is pretty cut and dry"

      McCarthy would be so proud.

      Wait, you do know who McCarthy is right?

      June 7, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  4. SLP

    I am a christian. However, let me first say that I am not one who gets all bent out of shape about not having mandated prayer in school. I am a teacher and unless someone has failed to inform me, I can still bow my head and pray and students still have the right to have student led prayer for whoever wants to participate. I am really not for faculty led prayer because I do feel that protects my children. I don't want the muslim teacher down the hall praying with my children. However, this young man had to have his speech approved by the school. He was not allowed to mention the role that his faith has played in getting him where he is and how it has helped him achieve his goals. His faith has played a big part in his life, and it is wrong for anyone to deny him the right to speak of it. I understand that some of you think he went too far with the recitation of the Lord's prayer. However, asking him to suppress his faith is wrong also. There is no way that any student of another faith would have been asked to do that.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      Well said.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @SLP

      You're missing the point. You use phrases like "supressing his prayer" as if he had the right to prayer but certain administraters wanted to stop it. That's not the case, he knew the rules well before becoming the Valedictorian. The rules are in place to not favor a single religion over another. He was more than allowed to pray to himself, on his own, before going to the pulpit. After leaving it or any other time.

      However he chose this moment to use his time to push his faith on others. He didn't need to, in fact your religion even dictates that praying openly like that is a bad thing. But he wanted to and he flaunted his rule breaking to boot. I would think as a teacher and as a christian you would see that this isn't right and would understand what this kid did was wrong.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @slp, i find it very unlikely that he was prohibited from mentioning that he attributes his success to his beliefs.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'He was not allowed to mention the role that his faith has played in getting him where he is and how it has helped him achieve his goals.'

      Saying a prayer is not 'mentioning his faith'

      'There is no way that any student of another faith would have been asked to do that.'

      Come now, you know that is false. There is no 'unless its done by a non-christian' clause in the banning of religious prayer.
      You also know that if this was a muslim giving a prayer to allah, the same christians praising this kid here would be destroying him instead.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • SLP

      @Chuckles
      Read my reply again. I am not debating with you whether it was right or wrong for him to recite the Lord's Prayer. I am debating whether or not it was right to ask this kid to not mention his faith which is and has been a big part of his life. I never said "suppress his prayer". I said it was wrong to ask him to suppress his faith. I also mentioned that I don't get bent out of shape with not allowing faculty led prayer because it protects my own children. They wanted him to keep all mention of his personal faith out of his speech. Now you tell me, how would that have been threatening to anyone? It is his faith. It doesn't have to be yours. Maybe, if the school had allowed him to speak of his faith, he wouldn't have felt the need to be so emboldened.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @SLP

      Why does this kid need to mention his faith in a speech about him and his classmates moving on? The speech, his and all the others that are given at graduations are meant for all students of all faiths, not just christian ones. Why is it all of a sudden unfair for him to literally not mention his faith for about 5 minutes? Is it really that hard? There are plenty of speeches out there that have no need of folks to discuss their faith or god or it affected their lives and yet this kid decided to do it anyways. It was wrong of him to do it whereas the administration wasn't asking this kid to "suppress his faith" as you put it. They didn't ask him to stop believing or to stop attributing his success to something else, they just ask he be respectful of the classmates that weren't christian.

      He chose not to do that and to lay the blame of his insubordination at the feet of the adminstration is obnoxious, especially for a person claiming to be a teacher. Should you be blamed if a student chooses to break the rules you set in your classroom because you made the rule in the first place, egging him on to break it? Come on, you're better than that.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      He chose this moment to say what was meaningful to him and what he is thankful for. In no way did this push his faith on others. If someone is offended that someone else believes in God, that is their choice.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Bob

      Reciting a prayer during a graduation event is absolutely pushing your religion on someone else. How is that hard t understand? Where's the disconnect?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Pushing your religion on someone else would forcing them to profess belief in or act in accordance with the dictates of that religion. Saying a prayer in a speech is stating your personal belief. The two are completely different. A graduation speaker is not/should not be required to refrain from saying something some is his audience might disagree with.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  5. skb8721

    The problem with his actions is that it opens the door for other students to do likewise, and what if they want to pray a Jewish prayer, or a Muslim prayer, or a Harikrishna prayer, or Pagan prayer, or an agnostic creed, or an atheistic creed, or a Shinto prayer, or a Mormon prayer. And the next time, the audience might not be so supportive. What then?

    June 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Rob

      Exactly.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      I'd personally love to hear a Shinto prayer at my child's graduation.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • upickme 54

      If they have legs, they can walk out, if they want. If not, call on a Military Vet that has fought for their free speech and they will gladly drag them out of harms way!

      June 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      They shouldnt need to walk out of a graduation is the point upickmeup.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • rdeleys

      Sorry, but there is no such thing as an atheist creed.

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

      that's a tough one. u let him/her/they express his/her/their opinion.

      personally i'm flattered do do and the gang hate me so much. they have been stalking me for months in the discreet aliases like al qaeds, bill ni, reason, no religion, moron lil tommi, lil fat sambo and rotten cheesie.

      we know we honor the one true god, the king of kings and lord of lords when people shall say all manner of evil against us. our forefathers in the faith received the same disdain.

      i do wish that 1 of them would offer a single minutia from all the evidence they allege to have proving the new testament is wrong. o well

      June 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  6. derp

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

    Hilarious, the whole town apparently supports talking to imaginary friends.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      I'd personally love to hear a Shinto prayer at my child's graduation.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      Wrong thread.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • billfitt

      At least they have friends. No one likes a bigo ted gay atheist.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      That God is imaginary is your belief. This has no particular relationship to the belief of anyone in the town.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • derp

      "At least they have friends. No one likes a bigo ted gay atheist"

      So you are saying that people don't like you?

      June 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  7. tony

    Glad it's a well publicized indiscretion. Now hiring managers will know ahead of time.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • JFCanton

      And if about 75% of hiring managers approve or don't particularly care, it doesn't harm him, does it?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • tony

      Depends if they want people who are going to disregard or disobey direction from their supervisors. Or land their company in court for violating regulations, like purity or safety for their customers..

      June 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  8. Tea Party Patriot

    A growing number of us are convinced that Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, being careful to speak only to real Americans, dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation again if we all follow the "Palin Path".

    June 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Sarah Palin has been outed as a trained arctic seal, not human at all. Everything she does is for a reward of fish. She can't represent us, at least not the people of my state.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      Or she should just stay in her motor-home. Tea-Baggers are idiots, claiming to be libertarian while actually supporting the foundation of a fascist theocracy.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Oh please, please, please, let her run.

      LMAO!

      June 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Careful what you wish for. There is literally no telling what could happen in an election.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Tea Bagger Id10t

      Hahahahahaha! Really?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      come now folks, recognise TPP's post as the sarcasm it is meant to be.
      Maybe its too subtle but it is there.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Sean

    As long as you'll all clap and cheer when a devout Muslim gets up and does the same thing – please all join with me in a prayer to Allah. It will be fine.

    If not, then it's a clear violation not only of the law but of basic decency and respect to a diverse and non-sectarian audience, in a secular setting.

    Amazing to consider that freedom of religion in America in 2013 still means the freedom to be an evangelical Christian, and nothing else, to many millions of people. And that the so-called "liberal" media (like CNN) is sympathetic to the same point of view.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Tea Bagger Id10t

      They would never allow that. They wouldn't let a Wiccan or a Witch do that either and they surely would never allow a Satanist to do it, so it's wrong, wrong, wrong for them to do it. Trust me, if Christians had their real way they'd still be slaughtering unbelievers and infidels. They are no different than radical Muslims, just weaker willed.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      In other words, he should respect others enough not to say something with which they might disagree. But there is no need for them to respect him enough to allow him to give an opinion with which they might disagree. Sounds like a double standard.

      Speaking of double standards....I can imagine what the reaction would be if Christian's complained about something that made them uncomfortable - say a student's statement of support for gay rights. (Just creating an example, not trying to start a discussion of gay rights.)

      June 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  10. Douglas

    Apparently Mr. Costner forgot that Jesus set up his teaching of the Lord's Prayer with this instruction: “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" (Matt. 6:5-6).

    June 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  11. David

    A victory for religious freedom against atheist groups that are trying to deny believers their right to express their beliefs.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • derp

      Nothing like a good witch burning!

      June 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • tony

      Disbelievers will be shunned until church attendance improves!

      June 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Please,

      Elaborate on how an atheist is trying to deny you your right to express your beliefs. Are you allowed to believe in your god? Yep. Can you do it at your house or in a place of worship without being harrassed by the government? Yep.

      So please tell me where it states that it's more important for you to pray in my face and that my issue with that is actually persecuting you.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'David – A victory for religious freedom against atheist groups that are trying to deny believers their right to express their beliefs.'

      oh dear. bearing false witness there david. Thats a no no.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  12. John (not McCain)

    Sure do hope he gets to be in heaven soon!

    June 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      One in following of truth absolute GOD is in heaven all the time, a hindu denier of truth absolute by hindu atheism, criminal self center ism is always in hind, hell, he may not recognize it to please his hindu ignorant soul, desire.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Islam bot hurts in head ism for lack of facts on U.S. history and law ism.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  13. how can we help these people

    After reading over these remarks it looks like most people know enough Civics to appreciate that the founders of the good ole USA created protections for small groups so big groups wouldn't stomp on them. The rest are members of the cult-of-westboro. How can we get them to secede from the union... successfully this time? Suggestions? Maybe tell them "they ain't no quaaaaaaarrrrrs in Texas and then pay Mexico to take Texas?

    June 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • I will donate to your cause

      I would give 10% of my earnings to help. Sadly, I'm unemployed though.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      How is a student expressing his belief stomping on anyone? Everyone who attended the graduation left with exactly the number of rights they came with - except for the students, each of him gained the right to be called a High School graduate. (:-))

      June 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  14. debra

    How come every president in recent memory can end every speech with "Thank you and God bless the United States of America." Also they often quote scripture from the Bible even passages spoken by Jesus. But if a student at a school function does the same thing he is censored.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      This guy is a soft target.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Alias

      Because they are politicians trying to appeal to people like you.
      Here's a clue for you : why do sporting events start with the national anthem instead of a prayer?

      June 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Sam yaza

    http://i.imgur.com/DuJCV.png

    June 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  16. Lorri

    No matter what anyone tries to say, the U.S. was founded on Christian priniciples. That's WHO WE ARE as a nation, but no one FORCES anyone to believe. Quit trying to force us to change the foundation of our nation! No one would go into Saudi Arabia, or India and tell them they can't publicly show their beliefs, but we've been bullied by our own FEW citizens who want to make us cower and not talk of our faith in God just because they don't believe the same way. Anyone can see the correlation of downward spiral of our society as we further and further allow God to be pushed out and our voices silenced. Thank God for a young man who stood up and wouldn't buckle!!! The great news is – in the end God wins!! The gates of hell shall NOT prevail!

    June 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that.

      No it wasn't and no it isn't.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • derp

      Name one christian principle that the US was founded on?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • take a civics class when you reach high school

      Put some seeds in your hair, water them and I know they'll sprout and thrive.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Ric

      You're a moron...this country was not found on christians priniples, our founding fathers were all athiests spoke against the very thing this idoit kid did. Have you ever heard of "separation of church and state?" Of course not, so how about you put down that piece of fiction (Bible) and read up on our history.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • derp

      "Anyone can see the correlation of downward spiral of our society as we further and further allow God to be pushed out and our voices silenced"

      You might want to look at some statistics.

      The bible belt leads America in per capita crime, per capita divorce, per capita obesity, per capita out of wedlock births, per capita welfare spending, per capita alcoholism, per capita drug addiction, and per capita teen pregnancies.

      The more secular states lead the nation in education, income, IQ and quality of life.

      Religion, christianity in particular, is a moral poison.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Michael

      This country got a good dose of your "Christian principles" with the Salem witch trials, and the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to make sure that the followers of your religion wouldn't be ever able to repeat that atrocity.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • derp

      "our founding fathers were all athiests"

      No they were not.

      Some were christian. Some were deist. Some may have been atheist.

      They did however go completely out of their way to build the first fully secular democracy in world history.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • ME II

      @Lorri,
      " the U.S. was founded on Christian priniciples"

      Which ones? 'Thou shalt have no God before me'? Explicitly controverted in the first amendment.

      "Thank God for a young man who stood up and wouldn't buckle!!!

      You are thanking God for a young man lying to the school about what he was going to say? How Christian, or commendable, is that?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • breathtaking

      "No matter what anyone tries to say..." Golly. Why not just say "I'm infallible. Outsiders are wrong and evil. My cult says so."
      The whole world doesn't revolve around what you believe... WOW. Breathtaking.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • ME II

      @Ric,
      "our founding fathers were all athiests "

      That's not true, I don't think.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Ken

      @Ric

      "our founding fathers were all athiests"

      incorrect, they were deists.
      And you spelled atheist wrong.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • derp

      "That's not true, I don't think."

      It is not true. any of the founders were devoutly religious including Washington. Some others like Franklin, less so. Jefferson even went so far as to rewrite the bible.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • ME II

      @derp,
      Are you complaining that I didn't disagree vehemently enough?

      June 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Tea Bagger Id10t

      The founders were mostly Deists not Christians. Many of them also were Atheists and Agnostics. Either way it's irrelevant they used to put leeches on people to cure them and all kinds of crazy things that we don't do anymore because we know better through science and education. Why do religious people keep wanting to return to being Neanderthals? Newsflash! We have evolved beyond childish thinking. Well, some of us have at least!

      June 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Lorri
      "“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."
      – Treaty of Tripoli, 1797

      June 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Anyone can see the correlation of downward spiral of our society as we further and further allow God to be pushed out and our voices silenced. '

      quite right, lets go back to when god dominated the US, lets go back to the 50s and 60s when blacks were 2nd class citizens and pushed to the back of the bu.....oh wait, bad example. Er, ok then lets go back to the mid 1800's when christianity was practically the only religion in the country, and where blacks were bought and sold like catt....oh. hang on, i'll get one in a minute. Erm, early 1800s where native americans were forced off their lands and died in their hundreds on forced marche.....hmm, ok. I give up, tell us when this supposed enlightened golden age of god worshipping US existed?

      June 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Oh wow, seems like someone failed Civics 101 if she even made it that far in school.
      This video might help you l;earn a little something and hopefully make you see how you've been lied to:
      http://archive.org/details/Michael_Badnarik

      As "The gates of hell shall NOT prevail!" ...where can we find these?

      This mi

      June 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • derp

      @MEII "Are you complaining that I didn't disagree vehemently enough?"

      No, just offering some clarification. You said "Not true, I don't think" as if you may be unsure.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      "Why do religious people keep wanting to return to being Neanderthals?" They don't.

      Why do atheists think that society should act in accordance with their beliefs/

      June 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  17. David

    Ripping up the speech? How cliche. This young man is nothing but a brat. He's merely attempting to pass off indoctrination as veiled in youth and free spiritedness.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Yes. He's also a liar. He told the officials he would speak about one thing, then spoke about something else. Not only that, but he planned to lie. When he ripped up his planned speech, he expressed disdain for the "truth" of what he was pretending to be speaking about, and continued on with his premeditated lying. You know god has got to be happy about all that lying.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  18. apstar

    What part of the separation of church and state do people not understand? Save the proselytizing for elsewhere, especially since he chose to blatantly not adhere to the school's rules. "Answering to a higher power" has led to the burning of so-called witches, the Crusades, and other flagrant misuses and abuses of power all in the name of religion. These are the folks who probably get upset when they get an unsolicited sales call or spam email. Worship God with respect for other's beliefs and policies.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  19. ZiggaZaggie

    I have read a ton of comments other places and everyone is cheering this kid on. He went to a PUBLIC high school where there should be no prayer of any sort happening let alone in a speech to hundreds of students who may not express the same ideas. If he had gone to a private catholic/christian hs I am sure this would of been welcomed and approved. He took away the right of his classmates who don't want prayer in their graduation, who may have chosen public education to avoid religion. What if someone practicing Judaism or Muslim got up there to read one of their prayers? The school would of thrown a fit and I bet even the news stations would be frowning on the student's prayer running taglines with something like "Freedom from religion or subliminal messaging?" I am catholic and even I wouldn't applaud this kid. To Costner: You are an idiot and I think you should not be rewarded for your lack of respect for your classmates and administration. Once you get to college you may get a better understanding of the mistake you made. Get a higher education and look back buddy.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • lol??

      Must be some background to the story, most likely some bullyin' feds.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Now let's see if Bill Deacon can understand the concept. I'll bet he can't, even now, with your post to help him.

      June 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The concept I get is that zigga thinks everyone should already be in agreement with your idea before you express it. He also seems to be under the delusion, as are many atheists, that NO prayer is permitted in the public discourse. The statements made by this young man were perfectly within his rights. He may have exercised poor judgement in his execution and tactics but he didn't do anything that breaches the law.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And Cpt. Obvious nails it. Billy never met a concept he could grasp. He still doesn't get it. He can't figure out that he doesn't get to decide whether this kid was "within his rights."

      But then again, DillDoe thinks that he can decide for a woman what is best for her. No reason to allow HER to make a decision about a pregnancy.

      He's an idiot. Thank goodness he's old and will die soon.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  20. Glauber

    They just don't understand that subjecting everyone to a prayer is coercive. Instead, they think their freedom of religion i being curtailed. Hogwash.

    June 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
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.