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June 6th, 2013
10:37 AM ET

With his speech, valedictorian brings God to graduation

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='JRavitzCNN']

(CNN) - Leading up to Saturday’s ceremony, Roy Costner IV prayed on what he was going to do. Liberty High School’s 2013 valedictorian would soon find himself in front of a microphone. He’d have a pulpit from which he could address his small community tucked away in South Carolina’s mountainous corner.

Only his father and pastor knew what was weighing on his heart and mind. Could he, should he, insert a prayer in his pre-approved graduation speech? He’d been told by the school principal that talk of religion wasn’t allowed, and so far he’d followed the rules.

But as the day approached, the 18-year-old couldn’t deny what he felt he needed to do.

“I wanted to stand up for God,” he explained Wednesday. “This is what God wanted me to do.”

So Costner, in cap and gown, stood behind the podium and ripped up his original speech. Before he gave shout-outs to coaches, cheerleaders and friends, there was something else he wanted to say.

“One thing I am certain of is we’re all a sum of our experiences, both good and bad,” he told his fellow graduates, a class of about 150. “All in all, those experiences, the people who mentored us, that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today. I’m so thankful that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age. And I think most of you will understand when I say, ‘Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …”

The crowd before him began to cheer as he recited the Lord’s Prayer, drowning out a few verses. The school principal, sitting behind him, appeared uncomfortable and peered down at papers on her lap. The school district’s superintendent, a few seats over, couldn’t help but smile.

“I was tearing up,” Costner said, remembering the moment. “I was overwhelmed by the response. … The clapping was so loud I couldn’t hear myself talking into the microphone.”

His father told CNN's Piers Morgan on Thursday night he was overwhelmed with pride for his son. The younger Costner approached his dad a few days before the speech and showed him what he wanted to do.

"I said, 'Look, if you're doing this for political reasons, don't. But if you're doing it because you feel led to do it and you feel this is a part of your speech, then I want you to do it and I'll stand by you,' " Roy Costner III said.

Some who were there heaped on praise when talking to CNN affiliate WYFF. One called it “pretty impressive.” Another student said it “took a lot of courage” and that “people were proud that he stood up for what he believed in.”

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

He also believes that organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wisconsin, group dedicated to maintaining separation of church and state, should stop meddling in the affairs of the Pickens County School District. The foundation, over this past school year, has leaned on the district to keep Jesus and student-led prayers out of school board meetings.

Other concerns went beyond board meetings. This spring, the foundation’s staff attorney sent a lawyer representing the district a letter about complaints of alleged discriminatory hiring and religious promotion in another county high school and praise music being played in an elementary school classroom. The foundation said it learned of such practices by way of community members who are, in fact, not fully supporting prayer.

Costner said he set out to make a statement, one he hopes will inspire others to stand up, too, for what he sees as the good of this country.

“Taking prayer out of schools is the worst thing we could do,” he said.

If Costner went to a Christian school, there would be no discussion, said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. But in public schools, even in a place where there may be a religious majority, prayers such as his are clearly unconstitutional, she said. What’s more, she added, what he did shows contempt for school district policy and a lack of sensitivity for his audience.

“It’s aggressive. It’s supremely rude,” she said. “This student is old enough to know that not everyone in the audience is Christian.”

But Costner, who was bouncing between interviews and heading to New York for TV appearances, said he counts atheists among his friends. He said that even though he doesn’t agree with their beliefs, he respects them – and that they do the same for him.

The elder Costner said his son had been inundated with messages of support, even from atheists.

He said he thinks the video of the speech resonated with people across the country because many people "really want something to hold onto for hope."

The son said he’s experienced no blowback from the district for what he did. And a district spokesman suggested Costner won’t.

“He’s a graduate now, so there’s nothing we can do about it even if we wanted to,” John Eby told WYFF. “But the bottom line is we’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths.”

The district, Eby explained to CNN Friday morning, is in a “nearly impossible position.” He said federal law, under the Establishment Clause, is clear that public schools cannot “approve in advance a student’s prayer” or “carve out time specifically for religious expression.” But, under the Free Exercise Clause, he added, “we can’t punish students who do pray.”

Gaylor doesn’t expect there to be any punishment. But without issuing some sort of statement expressing disappointment and reiterating school policy, she said, the district is making a mistake.

“It’s one thing if a school doesn’t have a policy,” she said. “But when they do, they really need to enforce their policy because otherwise it’s just a wink and a nod.”

Eby has an answer to this.

“I do want to reiterate that we don’t approve rule breaking,” he said. “But we are very serious about protecting our students’ rights to express themselves religiously – or refuse to.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (5,383 Responses)
  1. Bob

    My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:2

    June 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  2. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    9th time.

    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 6:08 pm |
    • faith

      do u think drawing and quartering is harsh enough?

      June 7, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • OT/NT

      Who is easu? Are you talking about Esau?

      June 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Science

      HEY faithy ...............how many times will it take for you to understand the truth ?

      Chomp on that bone...................creationists/ID believers. chadie too..................evolution at its best the old croc.

      Time for the horn-y beast to get the hell out of the bedVroooom !!!

      Fourteen Closely Related Crocodiles Existed Around 5 Million Years Ago

      May 21, 2013 — Today, the most diverse species of crocodile are found in northern South America and Southeast Asia: As many as six species of alligator and four true crocodiles exist, although no more than two or three ever live alongside one another at the same time. It was a different story nine to about five million years ago, however, when a total of 14 different crocodile species existed and at least seven of them occupied the same area at the same time, as an international team headed by paleontologists Marcelo Sánchez and Torsten Scheyer from the University of Zurich is now able to reveal.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521121323.htm

      AND

      Hey faithy/chadie seems like you have not been weaned yet sort of like chadie .............reminds me of a 5 year old ?

      Monkey Teeth Help Reveal Neanderthal Weaning

      May 24, 2013 — Most modern human mothers wean their babies much earlier than our closest primate relatives. But what about our extinct relatives, the Neanderthals?

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130524104828.htm

      Current search on Bing chadie ..........bookmark update chad........3rd one from top of page.

      RDFRS: When Christians become a 'hated minority'

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/.../5/5/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority

      11,000,000 results Any time

      Evolution wins !

      New Species of Marine Fish from 408 Million Years Ago Discovered in Teruel

      June 3, 2013 — Researchers from the University of Valencia and the Natural History Museum of Berlin have studied the fossilised remains of scales and bones found in Teruel and the south of Zaragoza, ascertaining that they belong to a new fish species called Machaeracanthus goujeti that lived in that area of the peninsula during the Devonian period. The fossils are part of the collection housed in the Palaeontology Museum of Zaragoza.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130603133432.htm

      June 7, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • OT/NT

      If you want to know about Jesus read the book of John

      John1:1
      John1:14
      John8:24
      John8:58
      John 10:30-33
      John14:6-7

      June 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Science

      The truth below.

      Destiny & DNA......................World Science Festival

      http://new.livestream.com/accounts/4044190/events/2110223

      June 7, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  3. lionlylamb

    The Cosmos is a Creation in the Making. It is ever being made within the vastness of Nothingness!

    ”For anyone to stand with “Universalism” being the ‘only game in town’, you stand with stiff-legged old men who drink too much! Our perceived ‘universe’ puts a stumbling block upon the relativities of Nothingness’s Extremities which are infinitely bounded giving us reason to understand a Cosmos as a Creation in the Making, being ever made and created all according to the Extremes of Nothingness. Go Figure!

    June 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  4. Douglas Parker

    “It’s aggressive. It’s supremely rude,” she said. “This student is old enough to know that not everyone in the audience is Christian.” Once again people are trying to say what is good for one is not for the other. Its plain and simple he has the freedom of speech and if people that don't believe in GOD have a problem with that then maybe they should reexamine their own beliefs. How many speeches have you sat thru and had to tolerate non Christian beliefs. As for me Amen to this graduate and God speed.

    June 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Bostontola

      This is not a free speech issue, he was asked not to include religious elements and he agreed. Not all speech is allowed with the first amendment, yelling fire in a crowded theater, libel, slander, etc.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  5. faith

    o the hor ror! 4 viol ating the Cons itu tion in such an egre g ious way, he should be han ged, drawn and qua rtered, bu rned and ab orted. at leas t

    Chuckles
    @Bob
    Recit ing a prayer during a graduation event is absolutely pushing your religion on someone else. How is that hard t understand? Where's the disc onn ect?

    June 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • faith

      A
      i agree and i think lil fatty sambo should win "post of the year" 4 this dandy

      Little Push Push in the Bush
      We need to be a time machine for all of these religious fvc kt ards and send them back to the dark ages where they belong.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  6. lionlylamb

    A Little Push Push in the Bush

    Time don't you know is but a way of measuring? There are no ways in which for to travel through time except by living it. ❗

    June 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  7. R.M. Goodswell

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

    yes they are – one is an uncontrollable malfunction of the mind ...the other willful ingorance

    June 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      blown reply

      June 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  8. Bostontola

    If atheism were a religion, the theism would be a religion and Muslims, Christians, Hindus, etc would be members of that religion.

    June 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  9. Pacific moderate

    Too bad his parents didn't lead him to Matthew 6:6.

    June 7, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Being humble must be optional in Christianity. All the adults applauding this kid are encouraging hubris.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Psalms 47:1

      O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.

      Amen.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  10. Bostontola

    As an atheist, I wouldn't mind if there was a religion that fit my beliefs, it would give me more political power. I doubt that will happen in my lifetime though, atheist beliefs are all over the map.

    June 7, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      No need to have new one, it is already established, called hinduism.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Like I said, it doesn't fit my beliefs.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Church of the SubGenius?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      sorry but I meant – No need to have new one, it is already established, called Islamism foundation of human rights violation, terrorism.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • lol??

      Socies will get you lined up with an Affirmative Action slot, poor thing.

      "Son, say hi to the pretty young thing."
      "Hi, thing."

      June 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Also, there is no map of atheist beliefs, there is only one: the belief that god doesn't exist. All other beliefs of atheists are superfluous to atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      I could live with that, but many atheists don't agree.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Don't agree with what?

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

      That there is 1 belief in atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Well they're idiots who don't know what atheism is. There are only two possible explanations to what atheism is: the belief that there is no god/s or the rejection of belief in a god/s. Anybody who attributes any other beliefs to atheism is a turd sandwich.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      Your characterization of others opinion different than yours reminds me of religious people.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      I don't care. People are not Humpty Dumpty from Alice in Wonderland. People can not attribute their own meaning to words. Words have specific meaning.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      I don't know of any universally accepted definition of atheism. The 1 belief you mentioned is common. Your strong belief in that as the sole belief is your opinion, not fact. You are clearly a strong defender of that position.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      This isn't Christianity. There aren't multiple texts which can have multiple interpretations. There is just one concept, the lack of belief in deities. I understand that there can be discussions on strong/weak atheism and implicit/ explicit atheism but these are just examinations of how one disbelieves in god. Ultimately, it just boils down to the lack of belief in god/s. That's it. Please enlighten me as to any other meanings of atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      You can be the leader of orthodox atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Again, please enlighten me as to any other meaning to the term atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      You show me a source that demonstrates universal acceptance of the position you state.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      I've had conversations with a number of atheist friends, some regard their moral beliefs to be part of their atheism, etc. I haven't found a consensus on the scope of atheism, let alone a universal position.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Every English dictionary in existence.

      And for the third time of asking, what other definitions of atheism are there?

      June 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Anybody who thinks their moral beliefs are in any way a part of atheism are idiots. Some of their moral standpoints may exist as a result of their atheism, but that's entirely different to it being part of their atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      I don't agree that a person who considers their moral (or other) beliefs are part of their atheism are idiots. I agree that anyone who believes there is no god(s) is an atheist, but that doesn't mean other beliefs aren't part of their atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      There's an incredibly large difference to them having certain views because of their atheism than them having views as part of their atheism.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Bostontola

      There is. Theists believe in god, but there are many religions with different belief sets. The same could be true for atheists even though they all have the common belief that there is no god(s).

      June 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Bostontola

      I'm sorry...,
      Perhaps a misunderstanding was caused by my words in the OP; I said "atheist beliefs", when I meant "atheist's beliefs", if so, my bad.

      June 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • poopmeister

      I'm not a athiest but I feel the need to interject. Athiesm exhists because there was a time that not believing in God was probably considered obsurd. There have always been factions that just did not include God into their beliefs, for example some of our forefathers...quote "The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" (treaty of Tripoli written during the administration of George Washington adn signed into law by John Adams). Formalized religion needed a modern counterpart, not just the absense of religion, opposition to it...hence Atheism. What would God be without Satan? God would be both parts and that is what Christianity has been for centuries, it's own worse enemy...good and evil. I'm not saying Atheism is evil, just a needed fly in the ointment to create balance.

      June 7, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Athy

      Poopie, you should at least learn how to spell atheist, don't you think?

      June 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • poopmeister

      Crap, I only spelled it wrong a couple of times. I was typing fast and there is no spell check of course. Hopefully spelling is not a requirement for getting into Heaven? As I said, I am not a Atheist, so I don't feel as bad for spelling it wrong.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  11. lionlylamb

    The Cosmos is a Creation in the Making. It is ever being made within the vastness of Nothingness !

    June 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  12. Bostontola

    Why do so many Christians want atheism to be a religion? How does that change anything?

    June 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      It boggles my mind also. Do they really want atheist organizations to become tax exempt?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • ME II

      Mystery loves company?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      No need to give it a new name, it is already tax exempt, called hinduism, based on atheism, self center ism,

      June 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Touche ME II.

      I think people who claim atheism is a "faith" or a "belief system" are pointing at the intellectually dishonest approaches some atheist make which are the same intellectually dishonest approaches they accuse religious of making. When a non-believer takes that tack, he reveals a "faith" based adherence to his tenets rather than the empirical foundation he espouses. Of, course there is also the caveat that empiricism itself is grounded in faith (the faith that empiricism is valid). So, in a sense, they are right, atheism requires a kind of faith. But largely, it's a reaction to emotionalism and illogical arguments.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Bill,
      Even if all you say is true, it doesn't make atheism a religion.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • derp

      "So, in a sense, they are right, atheism requires a kind of faith. But largely, it's a reaction to emotionalism and illogical arguments"

      Well said Bill.

      I don't see it as a faith, but it often comes off that way when under attack.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Even if atheism is a faith, that wouldn't make it a religion.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      I'm not sure what "tenets" you are referring to, but I don't think empiricism is a doctrine of atheism. Many atheists may seem to be empiricists, but I suspect, only because empirical evidence and the scientific method are the best tools when have for determining how the world works. If there are faith-based tools for building bridges, calculating PI, or determining the orbit of Saturn, then bring them out here and let's give them a try.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  13. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    8th time

    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 5:02 pm |
  14. midwest rail

    There is a huge difference between having anecdotal/circu/mstantial evidence sufficient for personal belief versus having proof. It is a distinction that should be noted.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      duly noted

      June 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  15. Science

    Cool fish.....................the bible is to fishy for me !

    Gulf of Mexico Journal of Fish Biology. Article first published online: 5 JUN 2013 | DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12144

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yIWfCAC5y0

    June 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  16. 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 4:51 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Perhaps I'm haven't made myself clear Alias. Perhaps you are locked into the "you must have faith" paradigm. I do not advocate blind faith. What I advocate is cautious acceptance. Coupled with that, I recommend, for the spiritually seeking, the application of spiritual practices. In the Catholic faith, those are Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, Eucharist, Anointing, among other sacraments along with a wide retinue of practices designed to develop and deepen ones faith such as the mass, meditation, prayer, fasting, reading, singing, retreats, fellowship and service to others; even monasticism. Other faiths have their practices.

      I frankly could not see how anyone could come to faith without these practices and I would not expect a reasonable person to do so from a detached examination. I also have seen numerable instances where an honest inquirer, having begun to explore the faith, finds it to be true.

      So, I accept that you cannot believe at the outset. I also accept that one may trudge the path for decades and come to a crisis of conscience and leave ( I don't even preclude that for myself). What I am saying is that there is proof and it is abiding in the Word, following Christ and exercising His commands.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " What I am saying is that there is proof..."
      Sigh.

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

      @Bill Deacon,

      I must ask, to what end? Why would you want to do all of those things? What is the value you find there?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Perhaps I will find God. What else are you gonna do? What greater pursuit could there be?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      midwest, I slightly misspoke. I should have said, there is faith. Faith which resides at the end of the application of observance, not at the outset.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hosea 6:3:

      Let us know, let us pursue knowledge of the LORD; his coming is as certain as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the autumn and spring rains come on the earth.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • derp

      "What greater pursuit could there be?"

      I fail to see how proving to myself the existence of some supernatural being to be a noble pursuit.

      Care to elaborate?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • lol??

      "Psa 14:2-3 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God. They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy: [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one."

      June 7, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Bill Deacon,

      "What greater pursuit could there be?"

      For me personally, helping to relieve the suffering of my fellow man. If there is a god, he's certainly not doing that.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If it's not self evident to you I'm not sure I can. If you aren't interested in the existence of God, why are you on this blog arguing about it? Even if you were a believer and made the most eloquent argument ever for His existence, I would still want to know it for myself. To do that, I would have to make the journey myself. I've been around long enough and been on both ends of some deals to know that everything we can empirically prove is temporary and fleeting. Like so much grass in a fire. But to pursue the eternal? To strike out for the divine? To apply myself to the personal satisfaction of knowing that I had not taken derps word or the popes but had found the truth out for myself? To me that is an endeavor worthy of my life.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Of course he's not doing that Godfree. He asked us to do it.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Science

      Wow Bill how did that happen............the asking part ?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • derp

      "Wow Bill how did that happen............the asking part ?"

      Cue the obligatory bible quote.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • derp

      "But to pursue the eternal? To strike out for the divine? To apply myself to the personal satisfaction of knowing that I had not taken derps word or the popes but had found the truth out for myself? To me that is an endeavor worthy of my life"

      Fair enough.

      But I think for most people they seek what they have the desire to find. It is not an objective search. I think most people would discard evidence that contradicts what they hope to find. If tomorrow we found strong scientific evidence that refuted biblical creationism and the concept of a biblical god, most people of faith would be quick to discard it.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Bill Deacon,

      If that's the case, shouldn't that be the "greater pursuit"? Perhaps if you stop focussing on god and start focussing on the suffering of others, you may find exactly what you are looking for. I'll give you a hint: It's not god.

      June 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry I'm late responding Godfree. I leave work early to take communion to terminally ill home bound cancer patients. You seem to be trying to make a distinction between caring for the suffering and seeking for God. I don't see the distinction. Likewise, I don't see the distinction between science and faith that a lot of people seem to struggle with. I mean I see the distinction between to two fields, I just don't see the conflict.

      June 10, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  17. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    No need to lose it to Atheists, self centered, answer a simple question, followers of Christianity.

    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 4:49 pm |
    • STFU

      Mohammad A. Dar,

      and if I may complete your Islamic message of love; show your faith by any means necessary, use pressure cookers, anything at your disposals.

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

      with a hindu atheist, self controlled in it. is your point?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  18. JerryG1

    “A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”
    It seems to me atheists advance theirs (principle, beliefs), with ardor and faith, often intelligently, effectively.
    Their right, freedom, as it is for others of other beliefs.

    That ("A cause...") is also a definition of religion.
    Are we establishing atheism as our official state religion?

    June 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      Atheism = a rejection of belief in a deity. That's not a cause.

      Second, a cause doesn't equate to a religion. It might be somebody's cause to force people to wear 10 gallon hats, it doesn't make it a religion.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Atheism, self center ism defies consti tution of USA, it has no place in America.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • JerryG1

      Well said ("I'm sorry David ...")
      Agree cause of 10-gallon hats is not religion.
      Deity and belief is sphere of religion.
      Atheism may "= a rejection of belief in a deity", or may = a belief in rejection of a deity.
      If so, then “A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”?
      If so, then A cause, principle, or system of beliefs to be promoted and established with ardor and faith?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • JerryG1

      Respect your opinions.
      Mine: My belief is not atheism (or self-centeredness), but there is a place for everyone, all beliefs, all people in America.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  19. Honey Badger Don't Care

    The biggest point that needs to be brought up is that this person doesn't deserve to be a valedictorian. His conduct shows that he isnt worthy of the honor.

    June 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Now you're saying mentally ill people can't be valediictorian? I bet the Americans with Disabilities Act has something to say about that.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  20. c-lo

    I read through these comments bounce between laughing and wanting to throw up. I had to sit through a commencement speech when I graduated college that was 90 minutes of male bashing by some Berkley Le-bian. While I was getting a headache from rolling my eyes constantly and trying not to be "offended," the thought NEVER crossed my mind to go running to my legislators to enact laws prohibiting some Rainbow Coalition leftie from embarrassing itself infront of a crowd. It made for a Pepto moment, but "great" memories for all my classmates and myself.

    Now that I've made my comment on the article, my next question is to all of the "athiests" posting here...what is your accepted theory as to the creation of the Universe?

    June 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Bostontola

      c-lo,
      There is a fundamental difference. The speaker at your commencement delivered a talk that was expected at Berkley. This valedictorian was told not to include religion and agreed not to. One violated trust, the other did the expected.

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

      *Berkeley

      (c-lo obviously did not go there)

      June 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      c-lo, the ONLY true answer is "We Don't Know Yet". We are looking and I think we will find the answer sooner or later. But we may never know and that's okay too as long as we keep looking, that is the nature of man (or at least it should be).

      June 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • derp

      "what is your accepted theory as to the creation of the Universe?"

      I lean towards the big bang theory. Although I am not 100% sold. I believe in abiogenesis, and I think scientists will create life from basic chemical building blocks during my lifetime. The molecular biological evidence for evolution is overwhelming. I completely accept the theory.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      I actually agree with your first statement.

      As for the question, I believe a unicorn named Suck Master Bursting Foam farted the universe from his spelching hole.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Dippy

      c-lo, spell atheist correctly, please. Creation of the universe occurred naturally, no god was needed. Otherwise you'd have to explain how the god was created. Details of this natural creation are now being worked out. Stay tuned.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • derp

      "that was 90 minutes of male bashing by some Berkley Le-bian"

      Could be worse.

      One of my graduations we had John Corzine.

      Imagine sitting through that.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • ME II

      @c-lo,
      College is not mandatory schooling and therefore many restriction on "government action" do not apply.

      Why do you scare-quote "atheists"?

      We (by we I mean humans through scientific investigation) don't know the details of the origin of the universe yet. Why do you ask?

      June 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      c-lo,

      The "Cosmos is a "Creation in the Making". It is continually being made within the vastness of nothingness.

      June 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • c-lo

      Thanks for the responses. No I did not (thank God) go to Berkley, Berkeley, or any other correct/incorrect spelling of that West Coast bastion of Pelosi style thinking. The college I attended was a state college, so public money was involved. There is no requirement that an individual attend a specific HS, additionally, there is no requirement to attend a commencement ceremony, so that arguement is out the window...

      I am a Christian, and have no qualms about it. I also beleive there is some evidence that the Big Bang is a valid THEORY (I studied some undergrad astrophysics in college) and find it equally difficult to believe all the matter and energy of the Universe was concentrated in a pinhead sized space that just for shi+s and giggles decided it was time to blow up as I find it to believe there is a force (God) that has overseen all of it. I do, however believe in the teachings of Jesus. I reject many so called "Christians" i.e. Westborough Baptists as readily as I reject Islamic extremists.

      The Answer that "we don't know," does not preclude the existence of a greater power than ourselves, one that created a Grand Design and put the "laws of phyics" in order. I also find it interesting that the Word of God (the Bible) written 2000 years ago, and "edited" 1500 years ago has essentially the same sequence of events as scientists/evolutionists today follow. How is it that these "know nothings" had the chronology essentially right, i.e. God did not create man first, but last, and most would agree that man is the last major move in evoloution. Just some thoughts.

      P.S. please be God-like and forgive my typo for "athiest." 🙂

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

      "How is it that these "know nothings" had the chronology essentially right, i.e. God did not create man first, but last, and most would agree that man is the last major move in evoloution."

      The chronology right?

      I think 6,000 years is just a tad off from 4,500,000,000,000. Molecular biology has proven that modern humans had to have at least 48 pairs of ancestors to get the DNA to wear it is today. The bible seems to have left out the other 47 pairs. Oh, and the whole ark deal, the laws of physics as well as a basic understanding of biology make it a complete impossibility.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • I'm sorry David, I can't let you do that.

      That should be 4,500,000,000 (I think).

      June 7, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • ME II

      @c-lo,
      There are many differences in the chronologies of the Bible and science.

      @Derp,
      " Molecular biology has proven that modern humans had to have at least 48 pairs of ancestors to get the DNA to wear it is today"
      What are you trying to say here? I don't follow.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Mankind is not evolution's end. Who knows what evolution will produce in the next 100,000 years.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • c-lo

      @derp–most of the time I write off your comments, but definately appreciate your non-hostile reply. I'd like to turn your response on its head the same as you do for Christians...let's say scientists can create life from dirt...and they can create dirt from individual molecules, and they can even create individual molicule from free electrons/protons/neutrons (quarks), and they can create quarks from a more fundamental particle–bottom line is how was that building block created from nothing? Even if all the matter and energy in the Universe was concentrated in a pinhead, what created it? God's God?
      Either way, the time/space continuum had to start somewhere/somehow. Even string-theory and its spinoffs have no true beginning when you think about it.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @C-lo

      First to your comment about what you went through at your graduation. It's a shame that you disagreed with the speaker and choose to disparage her by calling her a lesb/ian as some perceived insult. Sadly you try to equate what she spoke about which didn't touch on topics that were forbidden by the insti.tution and what this person did.

      As for your second part about the Big Bang. First, it wasn't an explosion (for a person having studied astrophysics, you would think that would be a very important distinction to make....). Second, though it seems highly implausible, at least we have evidence that points to a point where the universe is expanding away from, that's something to go off of and we can theorize why the universe is moving away from a single point. The only answer (as another poster pointed out) is We don't know, which are right, it doesn't discount that there might have been a creator, who might have have been sentient (even though you choose not to ask how this god was created...) and it might even be the god of the bible (Though the origin of the universe as described in the bible is so off that it's hard to connect a creator of the universe and the one from the bible). Moreover, just because all of those assumptions could actually mean that the god from the bible exists, I would in no way base my life, belief system and time hoping it were true off of so little evidence.

      My turn: Why do you think the god theory (particularly the one from the bible) is more legitamet than the big bang theory (which doesn't need a god)?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • derp

      "That should be 4,500,000,000 (I think)"

      Good catch, i was a little to busy with the zero key.

      "What are you trying to say here? I don't follow"

      I am no molecular biologist (although I am married to one) so I may not be able to explain this as well as I should.

      According to current analysis of as much data on human DNA as we have, there appears to have been no less than 48 distinctly different pairs at the time we reached full evolution to this species. That number could expand as we map further populations. Interestingly, we still carry some neanderthal DNA. Which proves that there some interbreeding during the transitional period, and pretty much shoots down the "made in his image" thing. Unless that is, god has some pre-existing neanderthal DNA.

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

      let's say scientists can create life from dirt...and they can create dirt from individual molecules, and they can even create individual molicule from free electrons/protons/neutrons (quarks), and they can create quarks from a more fundamental particle–bottom line is how was that building block created from nothing? Even if all the matter and energy in the Universe was concentrated in a pinhead, what created it? God's God?"

      I do not have the answers. I believe that in my children's lifetime science will have advanced enough to begin answering the questions.

      I am willing to concede that we don't know. I am not willing to credit it to the god of the bible.

      June 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.