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. Matt

    Looks like Roy never read the Bible verses preceding the Lord's prayer in Matthew 6:

    5 And when thou prayest, 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. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  2. ComeON

    @ When you get sick, do you go to hospital or a church?

    A hospital. And if I went to my church they would tell me to go to a hospital.

    And if a sick person we didn't know showed up and needed medical attention we would take them to a hospital.

    (Most hospitals in my town are named after saints, by the way)

    A church is where I go to give thanks to God and sometimes receive spiritual healing. (And lately at church we've been learning about science and the study of God's creation)

    June 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Why Christians do not answer a simple question?
      To all Christians, Claiming to be Followers of son of blessed Mary.

      What was message of son of blesses Mary, Easu, the anointed one ?

      Religion or The Way of truth.

      Show your faith by truth.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • derp

      "A hospital. And if I went to my church they would tell me to go to a hospital"

      So you trust your personal health to evidence based science, over faith.

      "You benefit from the the medical, technical and scientific advances from people who think like me (scientists, surgeons, geologists)"

      You do realize that the scientific community is the largest demographic for atheism, and that statistically, as education levels rise, faith in a supreme being falls.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • lol??

      "Luk 1:52 He hath put down the mighty from [their] seats, and exalted them of low degree."

      June 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  3. Bostontola

    God is amazing at tricking scientists. Our cancer genes, given by god, look just like would if evolution generated them millions of years ago. Thanks god.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  4. lol??

    Christians are the temple of God. A&A's are the temple of a fake god.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      So answer a simple question, if you are , what you claim to be.

      To all Christians, Claiming to be Followers of son of blessed Mary.

      What was message of son of blesses Mary, Easu, the anointed one ?

      Religion or The Way of the truth.

      Show your faith by truth.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  5. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    What is wrong, learned Christians, answer a simple question.

    To all Christians, Claiming to be Followers of son of blessed Mary.

    What was message of son of blesses Mary, Easu, the anointed one ?

    Religion or The Way of truth.

    Show your faith by truth.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • lol??

      Esau said,

      "Gen 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob."

      June 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Question is of Easu, given name, anointed one, not of old testament. of new testament, Was his message of religion, or way of the truth.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • lol??

      Mohammad A Dar
      Keep in mind difference between red and black letters in book of contradictions. Son of blessed Mary, Easu, anointed, base word Anyat in Hebrew, honored one Pbh, He was honored to be messenger of Allah the merciful and without "HIM" he was nothing, as he states, I can not do nothing on my own. rest of it is handiwork of hindus, criminals to make him, what he never claimed to be.

      February 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm |

      http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/16/al-qaedas-biggest-threat/

      Is this what you're looking for??

      June 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Thank you lol for keeping record, let adherents of faith of Christianity answer a simple question.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • sam

      Jesus Christ, it's like watching two disabled hobos fight.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • derp

      "Jesus Christ, it's like watching two disabled hobos fight"

      We need lionlylamb to make it a three way.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • sam

      LOL

      June 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  6. Rachel

    Kudos, Roy Costner! Congratulations! Your valedictorian speech rocked!! Wish you continued success. God bless!

    June 7, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Chad

      Get back in the kitchen and get my meal ready. Boy's night out tonight.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • derp

      The bible commands you to be silent woman.

      Now go get me a beer and a sammich.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  7. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    To all Christians, Claiming to be Followers of son of blessed Mary.

    What was message of son of blesses Mary, Easu, the anointed one ?

    Religion or The Way of truth.

    Show your faith by truth.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    Two nuns are ordered to paint a room in the convent, and the last instruction of the Mother Superior is that they must not get even a drop of paint on their habits.

    After conferring about this for a while, the two nuns decide to lock the door of the room, strip off their habits, and paint in the nude. In the middle of the project, there comes a knock at the door.

    "Who is it?" calls one of the nuns.

    "the blind man," replies a voice from the other side of the door.

    The two nuns look at each other and shrug, and, deciding that no harm can come from letting a blind man into the room, they open the door.

    "Nice ti.ts," says the man, "where do you want these blinds?"

    June 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      An oldie but a goodie.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Athy

      Good nun joke!!

      June 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      They believed hindu Lucifer, filthy secular, self centered and paid for it.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • NESTLE FOUNDATION OF OVALT INE

      Shut up Islam bot troll ism, foundation of factlessness ism.

      In other news Justin Bieber is going into space. (Lance Bassism ass ism.)

      June 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • JFCanton

      It's probably a Catholic-supplied joke. Except that it's probably a Protestant who'd get all excited about ti.ts...

      June 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Yup, Catholics get excited by pre-pubescent boys.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • JFCanton

      And there's the difference between a good joke and negative "humor."

      June 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      The best humor is born out of hardship and pain.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  9. Why we are happy

    We know the apostles told the truth, that's why.

    And we love God too... and we like to pray to him... and Jesus died for our sins, we're especially happy about that! He is the best, that is for sure.

    The cheering was obvious, so you know we're happy.

    June 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Alias

      I made a resolutoin this year to not let the reality get in the way of my happiness.
      It has been working well for me, too.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      I'm happy because video gaming is fun.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Why did something have to die anyway? So God has a debt to pay to death? And it can only be straightened out with a good killing? [btw..... that's sooo 15th-16th century]

      And I'm not ridculing. I have serious reservations about a 'loving' God that needs something to bleed out before we're forgiven. Not to mention, we're made in God's image so he should've made provisions to deal with sin.

      Which he placed into the world (sin)

      But hates it.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • derp

      Exactly who does god sound like?

      Is he all Morgan Feemany sounding, or does he have a Richard Simmons kind of voice.

      You talk to god right?

      What does his voice sound like when he responds.

      He does respond doesn't he?

      Please tell me it does not sound just like you.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      God sounds like James Mason. I thought everybody knew that.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Alias

      I wonder if god ever talks to deaf people, or if he just trows them away like he does gays.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • derp

      "I wonder if god ever talks to deaf people, or if he just trows them away like he does gays"

      If they close their eyes, they can see the special secret god sign language.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Sue

      Alias
      Deaf people can have delusions just like anyone else, so why not?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Sue

      Why we are happy
      No, you believe they told the truth. You choose to believe the writers of the Bible over the writers of the Qur'an and all other holy books. Why? Wouldn't it be fair to say that you would have most likely been a Muslim if you happened to have been born in the Mid East, or a Hindu if you happened to have been born in India. You're being a Christian is more an accident of where you were born than anything remotely related to it's being "true".

      Also, sanity is not a prerequisite for happiness BTW.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Why we are happy

      The word is over the entire world, you have what ever you want. We're happy, because we know the truth, from the apostles, who were there with Jesus. They said the truth, and we know it.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Yes, but people fail to realise what the Word actually is.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZThquH5t0ow

      June 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  10. derp

    "(a message board devoted to faith, religion and belief, by the way)"

    As well as a lack thereof, by the way.

    June 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

  11. edgewise!

    June 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • .

      I guess someone finally got a word in.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  12. Ave atque Vale

    "God" wanted him to do this?

    I guess he learned deceit from the masters in the Bible:

    "2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

    The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord."

    1 Roy: The Lord said, "Take an approved speech with you and say you will abide by it."

    June 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  13. Reality

    Talk all you want to and or/about your god just don't do it with taxpayers' dollars i.e. this is a public school getting local, state and federal funding. I am sure there are some private Christian schools in the area this kid could have went to.

    And speaking about your god, where was it, she or he when the following occurred:

    Number of god's creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

    1. 300,000,000 approx.
    Smallpox

    2. 200,000,000 ?
    Measles

    3. 100,000,000 approx.
    Black Death

    4. 80,000,000–250,000,000
    Malaria

    5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
    Spanish Flu

    6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Plague of Justinian

    7. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Tuberculosis

    8. 30,000,000[13]
    AIDS pandemic

    9. 12,000,000 ?
    Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

    10. 5,000,000
    Antonine Plague

    11. 4,000,000
    Asian Flu

    12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

    June 7, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Why assume that God is biased against microbes? And we'd never have learned how to avoid the behaviors that lead to such things without prodding. (And many more people would have died of hunger.)

      June 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Reality

      The only answer is that there is no god for what god would turn microbes against his best creation.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • JFCanton

      And that's only half the answer. (At any rate, to save everyone time this should be shorthanded as the "Neil Peart" argument...)

      June 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  14. My Dog is a jealous Dog

    This valedictorian should have failed his civics class – he obviously does not understand the Consti.tution.

    June 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Maybe he'll end up studying under Obama. Now that guy can do an end around.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Are you under the delusion that the average public high school is bothering to teach a good civics class?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      I think my point is that the worse our education system gets the more of this religious nonsense we are going to see. In my opinion, the school administrators should have killed his mic the second he started the prayer. If you don't think that the VP was on the switch you are mistaken – they just didn't have the balls to do the right (legal) thing and shut him down. When the teachers and administrators are too stupid or cowardly to do their job, what hope do we have with this next generation.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • JFCanton

      We had more religious nonsense per capita in the past, and by almost any rational measure had a more effective education system. Maybe that doesn't equate to "better"... but there's a lot of work to do on proving that negative.

      If they pulled the plug with the student body riled up, isn't that risking an inmates-running-the-asylum situation? And technologically they might not have been set up that way. You have to run through a soundboard to have real power to control mikes.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Ave atque Vale

      My Dog is a jealous Dog,
      " If you don't think that the VP was on the switch you are mistaken..."

      You might have a point there, especially since it was quite a controversial issue in that small town for the past month or so...

      "In conversation with a Liberty area church pastor:

      "Just an FYI. Due to the controversy with prayer at school functions, we have been told that the school board will not allow us to have Baccalaureate at the school. It has now been moved to Flat Rock Baptist Church on Sunday May 19th at 6PM.

      We were told that LHS is following word from the board. Seems they are erring on the side of caution. We really don't know yet who made the decision. Hopefully we'll know more in a few days. We used to have them at the churches anyway, just the timing of it is not too good."
      http://www.thelibertymonitor.com/

      June 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  15. derp

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

    We don't.

    We just want you myth worshippers to stop to make laws based on 2000 year old fables.

    June 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • TruTV

      The only thing atheists have in common is that we do not believe in any god. There is nothing to prevent atheists being jerks. derp, stop being a jerk (name calling, trolling).

      June 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • derp

      I appreciate that you are an atheist.

      Otherwise, you can blow me.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • derp

      I'm not here to make friends.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      mission accomplished

      June 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Don't feed the trolls!

      derp = troll

      Trolls go away when you don't feed them.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • derp

      "Trolls go away when you don't feed them"

      There are 32 pages of fodder for me.

      I'm not going anywhere.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  16. ComeON

    Q4. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian

    (e) describing some internet Atheists' poor understanding of what a Chrisitian believes prayer is.

    See! There can be other answers, too.

    This test is lame. This biased and ignorant exam determined whethhter you graduated or not?

    June 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      well do tell us what you believe is wrong with that interpretation.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      A priest goes to a boxing match. "Hey father." says the boxer; "If you bless me will I win my fight?" "Not if you don't know how to box." says the priest.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • derp

      @Bill Deacon. You managed to slink off like a coward rather than respond to this. I'm not letting you off the hook.

      I will keep trolling you until you respond.

      "it cuts both ways derp. When HBC accuses someone of mental illness, it's up to her to make the case. Not the other way around"

      So you are saying that there is no god?

      Or are you saying you are not sure whether there is a god or not?

      Because you have certainly never ever offered a shred of proof of any god.

      By your own logic, you have failed to fulfill "proof is required by he who states".

      Thanks, you have just proven the complete invalidity of anyone who has ever asserted that there is a higher power. I appreciate you backing me up like that

      June 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bill
      I like that one. 🙂

      June 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • ComeON

      The whole entire Bible contradicts that belief. Other people had gods that people believed they could manipulate to do their will with prayer, chants, beliefs, etc.

      What Colin is describing is a genie. Not Jesus Christ.

      Yes, some Christians do believe and act like Jesus is a genie. So what? Some atheists get addicted to crack and rob people for a few dollars. It doesn't mean they all do.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I answered you twice derp. Try not to live up to your name.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • derp

      Where?

      @Bill Deacon. You managed to slink off like a coward rather than respon to this. I'm letting you off the hook.

      I will keep trolling you until you respond.

      "it cuts both ways derp. When HBC accuses someone of mental illness, it's up to her to make the case. Not the other way around"

      So you are saying that there is no god?

      Or are you saying you are not sure whether there is a god or not?

      Because you have certainly never ever offered a shred of proof of any god.

      By your own logic, you have failed to fulfill "proof is required by he who states".

      Thanks, you have just proven the complete invalidity of anyone who has ever asserted that there is a higher power. I appreciate you backing me up like that

      June 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      pg 29, 2:18 twerp

      June 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Bob

      Derp, Bill is definitely a coward. He'll go on dodging all day if allowed to.

      Pin him down. Good work. Keep it up.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • derp

      "This seems to show that when I say to you "There is a God", I would be required to prove it. And you would be right to expect that proof before conversion to my belief. But I don't say there is a God. What I say is "I believe there is a God" for that, I incur no debt of proof to you"

      And once again, you did not actually answer my question.

      Is there a god?

      If you cannot answer yes there is a god, then you must surely believe that there might not be.

      Are you sure, or do you believe that there might not be a god?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • ComeON

      @derp

      Why are you practically begging somebody to prove God to you?

      Get on your knees and humbly ask God to reveal Himself to you. If nothing happens, dismiss what Bill says and find somebody to have an adult conversation with.

      Why be a troll? Why badger him because you are not satisfied with his answer? Are you interested in the truth? Or just proving that you are right?

      You can't prove or disprove God on a message board (a message board devoted to faith, religion and belief, by the way).

      Accept that. Move on. Peace be with you.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      There is a motivational saying that goes like this: Whether a person says he can or that he cannot, he is probably right. For the one who says he can will endeavor to succeed while the one who says he cannot will not presume to try. Both are right.

      I would say that there is a a God and that there is not a God. For me there is because I see evidence of Him and I endeavor to pursue Him. I have witnessed His grace and mercy. IN my existence, there is a God.

      You are right too derp. There is no God. You haven't found Him. You don't want to. You don't even want to try and you would probably reject Him if you met Him. You're right. For you, there is no God.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Bill, That applies equally to both boxers, so clearly god has nothing to do with the outcome.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Bill

      Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars' Op-Ed

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/biblical-marriage-iowa-scholars-op-ed_n_3397304.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

      By the way the bible is BS !!!

      June 7, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • derp

      "Why are you practically begging somebody to prove God to you?"

      I'm not.

      Why would I beg for someone to prove to me the existence of something I don't believe exists?

      Bill Deacon made a point of using the concept of evidence being the responsibility of the person making claims to challenge someone else, not realizing that the concept would be tossed right back at him.

      He surely was not thinking through what he was typing.

      When the tables were turned, and he was asked to present evidence of his claim that there is a god, he ran and hid. When I trolled him enough to respond, he dodged the question, and offered up the lamest backpedal I have ever heard from a christian.

      He actually said...

      "But I don't say there is a God. What I say is "I believe there is a God" for that, I incur no debt of proof to you"

      That is the most cowardly backpedaling lack of faith answer I have ever heard.

      He simply refuses to admit that he believes that there may not be a god.

      But that must be what he believes.

      Otherwise he would say unequivocally, "There is a god".

      He is a coward.

      He talked himself into a corner and can't figure out how to get out of it.

      So I trolled him.

      He deserves it.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • derp

      "For me there is because I see evidence of Him"

      You have as much evidence as was claimed in the original post regarding mental illness.

      In fact, you have less.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @Bill Deacon – So God exsists for those that convince themselves? And God doesn't exsist for those that are not convinced?

      That just doesn't seem right, Bill. If we are like infants to a God-like being - then why not guide us? Be here. Show us. He did in the past, right? And he knows how bad humans are with passing messages (stuff gets lost/ added). Why not show up every 2,000 to remind us he exsists, so that we remain faithful?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Why does it have to be an answerable question? It's not intellectually honest to provide an answer; "is" is too strong because it's not provable, as philosophers have generally concluded since the question came up (while almost universally believing in some type of deity). But neither is it disprovable. And science at its boundaries, which it is by definition obligated to push, is in the same boat.

      This is where an understanding of epistemology would come in handy: or rather, an understanding of the extremely contingent nature of almost everything that we take to be true. The internal consistency of scientific assumptions makes them better than astrology, but doesn't make them incontrovertible knowledge.

      I mind making empirical judgments a bit less than most. I'd expect that there would be a lot less irony in the universe if what is material is the extent of what there is.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • ComeON

      @Derp

      Ok, so you led him into some kind of word or logical trap.

      I see atheists step into the same kind of traps and find themselves caught, too.

      Again, nobody seems to be able to prove or disprove God on a message board.

      You've basically just proved that Bill can't prove God to you. Wow. Big deal.

      I believe in God. What Bill says seems reasonable to me.

      I also know and love people that are atheists. And they even seem reasonable to me.

      You are acting unreasonable. I can't imagine anyone wanting what you have or supporting you for what you stand for (except for your fellow trolls).

      June 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Science

      Bill Deacon the bible is BS................so the god(s) and the horn-y red beast are also are they not ?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Alias

      @derp
      It pains me to type this, but Bill won this time.
      You are trying to get proof that god exists. We all know that will never happen.
      Bill restated his position so as to invalidate your assertion. Very disingenuous of him, but that's Bill.
      You have not gotten your proof, and his response makes you look childish.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Athy

      Maybe it's Schrodinger's god?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      LOL good one Athy.

      June 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      "You can't prove or disprove God on a message board (a message board devoted to faith, religion and belief, by the way)."

      truly, in the same way elves cant be disproven.

      yes we cant disprove outright, but there not just a mountain, but a freaking mountain range of evidence against there being any God, spirit , ghost, or cosmic power.

      saying we cant disprove is just playing a lawyers game...

      June 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • derp

      "You are trying to get proof that god exists"

      No, I am not.

      How many times do I have to say that.

      What I wanted, was for Bill to address the fact that he put his foot in his mouth by asking for proof of an assertion. You obviously missed the early part of this discussion 29 pages ago.

      Bill accidentally imparted a concept that christians refuse to address. He challenged someone elses post demanding evidence to support their claim.

      I was just one of countless people who called him out on the obvious irony.

      He ran and hid.

      When I finally trolled him to a response he weaseled and word smithed his way around the subject saying...

      "For me there is because I see evidence of Him and I endeavor to pursue Him"

      While simultaneously offering absolutely zero evidence whatsoever.

      I don't want evidence of a being that I do not believe exists.

      I don't need it.

      I want Bill to stop squirming and admit that there is no evidence, and that based on his own demand for evidence, his assertions are invalid.

      I could care less who "wins" or "loses".

      June 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • ComeON

      Sorry, I haven't been following your drama.

      I have evidence of God's existence. Or else I wouldn't believe in God. I imagine Bill feels the same way.

      You may not like my evidence. But you probably place your life in the hands of people everyday that believe just like me (doctors, pilots, firefighters – even simple drivers of other cars in traffic). You benefit from the the medical, technical and scientific advances from people who think like me (scientists, surgeons, geologists).

      You place your life in these people's hands, why not consider their evidence for God?

      If you want to know more about my evidence of God I would be happy to share. Most people think God is like some equation they can solve or experiment they can control. But it just doesn't work that way.

      What kind of evidence do you want?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think you've missed my point, which I've made on other threads. There is no verifiable, peer reviewed, photographic evidence that will convince a skeptic. In that sense, atheists are correct. Agnostics are also correct in that, since there is no such empirical evidence, doubt is a reasonable albeit casual stance. Theists, on the other hand, choose, deliberately to accept the possibility of the reality of the divine and propose to order their life accordingly. Along the way, corroborating experience encourages deeper investigation for many while discouragement funnels some out the door. I maintain that people like derp, rather than picking up their own cross and climbing the summit of faith to experience reality for themselves, merely adopt the complacency of clever word constructs that enable them to declare "You can't prove it!" Like wise many professed Christians are satisfied with a cultural or social experience that deprives them of the satisfaction of the consolation available in a deeper experience. My encouragement to both would be "Seek ye first the kingdom of God. All else will be added unto thee."

      June 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Alias

      @derp
      I was wrong.
      Your responces make you look like a child.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      IN other words derp, I reject your premise. I don't have to prove it to you. I only have to prove it to me. You have to prove it to you.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • derp

      "You may not like my evidence. But you probably place your life in the hands of people everyday that believe just like me (doctors, pilots, firefighters – even simple drivers of other cars in traffic). You benefit from the the medical, technical and scientific advances from people who think like me (scientists, surgeons, geologists)"

      When you get sick, do you go to hospital or a church?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • ComeON

      @Bill

      Nicely put. I used to get very frustrated because I couldn't prove God to my skeptical friends.

      And then I learned about the phrase "To thine own self be true." I have my proof and evidence.

      And very honestly I can't deny God. Even after reading what skeptics have to say. And looking at many websites that challenge my faith. God is real to me.

      Peace to you!

      June 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • derp

      "IN other words derp, I reject your premise"

      My premise was that you failed to offer any evidence, while simultaneously demanding it of others.

      The nonsense about me needing to find my own evidence is just backpedaling.

      Exactly how have you rejected that?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Alias

      @ComeON
      Any proof of god would be life changing.

      Unfortunately, the 'proof' most people offer is exactly the same visions, voices, dreams, etc. that people in every religion experience. I can't be expected to believe in them all.

      Got any thing else?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • derp

      "Your responces make you look like a child"

      It should be glaringly obvious by now that I am not particularly concerned what peoples opinions of me are.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • ComeON

      @ Alias

      Be true to yourself. And I hope you find what you are searching for.

      It would be a waste of my time and your time to prove something that you don't want.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      And yet you wonder why I prefer not to dialogue with you.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      "There is a motivational saying..."

      There is a difference between a motivational saying and whether something exists. Claiming something about one's own future behavior can have the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereas the actual existence of something is true of false regardless of one's opinion or motivation.

      That being said, however, the one area of overlap would be one's own motivation in finding a rationale for believing in the existence of something, regardless of its actual existence. That could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Alias

      great, now i'm back on derp's side. Thanks a lot!

      Can't you just admit that there is no proof?
      Instead you tell me what I want, and making excuses?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      me II, not to dwell too much in the mystical but another saying is "People most often find that which they seek" Is that when you mean?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • ComeON

      I have proof.

      I imagine you could put me or people like me. the scientists, surgeons, firefighters to the test. Hook them up to a lie detector and ask if they have evidence for their beliefs.

      If it says they lie: Maybe you find out they are delusional, yet somehow just as functional as you.

      If is says they are honest: They have evidence they believe in.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • derp

      "great, now i'm back on derp's side. Thanks a lot!"

      Welcome back!!

      June 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Not one, even a single shred of proof. no reason for even a maybe or might be.

      2000 year old BS vs 21st century science? same type of mismatch can be had in a bicyclist vs a top fuel car on the funny car's home turf.

      would be funny if not for our tragic history with religion and the price we ve all paid and will pay if we don't lose this BS completely. soon.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Positing "elves" (or A.C. Doyle's fairies, or the Norse gods) is much more dubious than a single God because the idea of an elf or fairy is that it has certain "physical" qualities. Absent those physical qualities, which are easy to verify as not locatable in the real world, you essentially don't have any meaning in the concept. With a single deity the specific qualities are not part of the point, even if we happen to assign some.

      "Religious scholars" who derive such conclusions from the Bible (yawn, another HuffPo opinion on marriage) aren't very convincing because they're essentially not attempting to test for internal consistency. The Jonathan/David "problem" is itself dubious, but having contextual support it's loads better-attested than the idea that the Bible made an *affirmative* statement about polygamy, which was the only other form of marriage that actually came up. The Bible is very judgmental and spends a lot of space on internal debate of moral issues, such as what happened to Benjamin... or what happened to all the kings with multiple wives (hint: either they bit it, or their children were losers).

      It's superficially similar to the problem here.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      proof that derp cares what people think of him two lines up

      June 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • derp

      "I imagine you could put me or people like me. the scientists, surgeons, firefighters to the test. Hook them up to a lie detector and ask if they have evidence for their beliefs.

      If it says they lie: Maybe you find out they are delusional, yet somehow just as functional as you.

      If is says they are honest: They have evidence they believe in"

      You have not studied mental health or Psychology have you?

      Most people who are delusional would actually pass a lie detector.

      The reason they are diagnosed as delusional is because they truly believe in things that are not as they are in reality.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • ComeON

      @RM

      There are a significant Christians that accept, contribute, finance, support, embrace, learn about and teach about 21st Century science.

      What do you mean by "2000 year old BS vs 21st century science"?

      You think it is a contest?

      Do you have some exclusive access to this science?

      “Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values.

      The two are not rivals. They are complementary.

      Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.”

      – Martin Luther King, JR

      June 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Oops. It's superficially similar to the problem here (whether there is a need to prove the existence of God) because the case they want to make is based only on the existence of findable, objective evidence. I see it, therefore it is. Where evidence is found and in what order is also important, though.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon
      "... another saying is "People most often find that which they seek" Is that when you mean?"

      Only in prophesying future behavior but no amount of seeking will lead one to that which does not exist. However, it may lead one to believing in that which does not exist.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • derp

      "proof that derp cares what people think of him two lines up"

      I welcome with open arms someone who made earlier negative comments about me.

      If I cared what alias thought of me, why would I welcome them back.

      Why on zeus' green earth would anyone care what people on an anonymous message board think about them?

      We don't even know each other.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Alias

      @Bill Deacon,

      It is true that people with biases tend to reach their desired conclusion.
      If you really want to beleive in a particular god, there is a goo dchance you will find a way to convince yourself.
      I would love to find a god, but i can't rationally conclude that any god exists. That makes it much harder for me to accept a book as flawed as your bible.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • ComeON

      @ derp
      @ You have not studied mental health or Psychology have you?

      No. I haven't.

      Have you?

      I have been around delusional people.

      But I've demonstrated that these people are professionals and don't seem or act delusional. Surgeons, firefighters, scientists. You trust them with your life – you have faith in their minds and don't seem to think they are delusional.

      These type of people believe in God have have their evidence. And you can talk to them about it, like an adult.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • derp

      This is the one area where Mr King and I disagree.

      "Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism"

      Radical islam is "crippling irrationalism" personified. Science has not stopped that. Extremism in religion is increasing globally while science continues to make advancements.

      "Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.”

      I have never seen anything from religion, particularly christianity (the faith that I was raised in) that is somehow founded in morality.

      In fact, I see it to be quite the opposite.

      Christianity is founded on the expectation of moral failing.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Oh its not just a contest, but a full on war....

      Believers haven't exactly treated scientific advancement in the kindest way. People have been killed in all manner of ways because what they discovered threatened the churches in some way.

      Complement each other? I hope you were laughing when you typed that. Just in recent history, Shrub sent several field of medical science back several years when he stomped on stem cell research.

      Trying to ride the coat tails of science for some kind of legitimacy wont work for the religions today.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • derp

      "Have you?"

      Yes, one of my undergrad degrees in in Organizational Behavior.

      "But I've demonstrated that these people are professionals and don't seem or act delusional"

      You are in no way qualified to make that diagnosis.

      You have no idea what most people you interact with every day are really like.

      People may be highly functional in some settings, but have serious mental health issues otherwise. I don't think you really understand what "delusional" really means.

      I'm not suggesting that your dentist is a schizophrenic and you don't know, but at the end of the day, you don't know.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • ComeON

      @ R.M. Goodswell

      Is your name on any kind of list like this?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_thinkers_in_science

      Have you contributed anything even remotely close to what any of these individuals have contributed?

      Talk about trying to ride coat tails!

      Go ahead and let me know what you have contributed and where I can read about it:

      Thanks.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      given that im an atheist ..no my name isnt on that list.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • ComeON

      @ derp

      @ derp

      I AM qualified to determine if someone is delusional or not.

      If I go see a doctor and he seems delusional... I won't go see him.

      We all can do this. You don't need a degree to figure this out.

      A degree is to figure out WHY.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • ComeON

      @ R.M. Goodswell

      A list or something that demonstrates that YOU are qualified to speak on science.

      And not riding the coat tails of others.

      (Look close... this means you are riding the coat tails of Christians, gasp!)

      June 7, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • derp

      "I AM qualified to determine if someone is delusional or not"

      Really? Where did you get your degree in Phycology or your MD in Psychiatry.

      "If I go see a doctor and he seems delusional... I won't go see him"

      You seem to have no idea what delusional is.

      "We all can do this. You don't need a degree to figure this out"

      Yeah you do.

      "A degree is to figure out WHY"

      Wrong again.

      You cannot treat an illness, mental or otherwise, until you have diagnosed it.

      That is step one for any doctor or therapist.

      Then and only then can you determine why, and what is the appropriate treatment.

      I am beginning to suspect that you are not very well informed.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      ComeON,
      Science is not in a contest with religion but the religious deny science when it shows that the bible is not true on the core points – creation and therefore original sin, and many other points are disproven or unproven.
      Although I'm sure some believed, many on that list of scientists were in times when expressing a contrary position (e.g. Galileo) could result in prison or worse so claiming belief was at least expedient.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      a bit shameless a twist don't you think?

      so most of Scandia are not qualified to comment on nuclear research because YOU never see their names on a list?

      as far as Christian scientists, yes there have been a few..a very few.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      ComeON
      "I AM qualified to determine if someone is delusional or not."

      So why do you not consider the religious delusional – they believe in something that has no evidence for and plenty of evidence against. Isn't that the definition of delusional?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • ComeON

      Study what this Psychologist says

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-j-rossano/why-religion-is-emnotem-d_b_611148.html

      June 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • ComeON

      I am qualified to consider someone delusional.

      I am not qualified to have that person locked up or forced to have mental evaluations.
      And I don't desire to be.

      But having faith in Jesus Christ and having a mental illness that causes delusions are 2 different things.

      Even atheists have delusions of there not being a God. I've seen it.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • JFCanton

      It's not the same as establishing objective reality, but pretty cool.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      ComeON
      "Even atheists have delusions of there not being a God. I've seen it."

      How is being an atheist delusional? – there is no evidence of a god and plenty of evidence that contradicts a god.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • derp

      "I am qualified to consider someone delusional."

      You are as qualified to consider someone to be delusional as much as you are qualified to consider them diabetic.

      Which would be not at all.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • ComeON

      @ derp

      I'm not going to put my life in the hands of someone that I think is delusional.

      You actuallyl do put your life in the hands of people that you say are delusional.

      I guess we are different.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      "So why do you not consider the religious delusional – they believe in something that has no evidence for and plenty of evidence against. Isn't that the definition of delusional?"

      This is not accurate. Believers do not believe in something for which there is no evidence. They believe in something for which you see no evidence - which is quite a different matter.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • ComeON

      @ You are as qualified to consider someone to be delusional as much as you are qualified to consider them diabetic.

      My friend Mark has to check his blood sugar and sometimes inject insulin before he eats.

      I consider him to be diabetic. I'm qualified to consider him that.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  17. WASP

    "we atheists don't hate the christian, we hate the stupid stuff christians say"
    XD sound familiar?

    June 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Science

      WASP..............same sh-it different day..............what does it take for someone to learn the truth ?

      June 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  18. Louis

    This young man is inconsiderate, arrogant, and self-centered. I was valedictorian of a class of 1,250 students and delivered my speech as written after approval by the school administration. If he didn't want to follow the school's requirements for his speech, he could have politely declined the opportunity to speak, I am sure the same audience members who share his religion would have been outraged if a Muslim student praised Allah or an atheist student denied the existence of a supreme being. This student is unworthy as graduation speaker for the school that provided his education.

    June 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Loathstheright

      Christians think rules don't apply for them. They can always just lie then pray to their god to forgive them for lying...very convinent for them.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Valedictorian

      Only people who are wavering in their faith do things like this – because they are not getting enough attention, and feel their religion is getting trampled on. It is a desperate behavior and not what GOD intended.

      June 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Loaths, you like rules? What about the ten you were given?

      June 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Bill, Isn't one of them about lying?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  19. Byrd

    God doesn't need the help of self-aggrandizing peons like Tebow and this punk. Faith is supposed to be a personal thing and all he did was to rub his own faith in the faces of everyone else. Sure doesn't say much for their valedictorian...or his teachers and parents.

    June 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  20. Cpt. Obvious

    Three things you must do to pray to the god of your choice at graduation:

    1. Become valedictorian
    2. Lie about what your speech will be about
    3. Follow through with your lie and talk about your god rather than what you promised to talk about.

    June 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Whatsa matter Cpt.? Couldn't get past the first one?

      June 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • derp

      @Bill Deacon. You managed to slink off like a coward rather than respond to this. I'm not letting you off the hook.

      I will keep trolling you until you respond.

      "it cuts both ways derp. When HBC accuses someone of mental illness, it's up to her to make the case. Not the other way around"

      So you are saying that there is no god?

      Or are you saying you are not sure whether there is a god or not?

      Because you have certainly never ever offered a shred of proof of any god.

      By your own logic, you have failed to fulfill "proof is required by he who states".

      Thanks, you have just proven the complete invalidity of anyone who has ever asserted that there is a higher power. I appreciate you backing me up like that

      June 7, 2013 at 3:02 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.