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. faith is believing in something that you know ain't so

    June 9, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  2. Science

    About 52,800,000 results (0.25 seconds) .............from Google this time LL

    Showing results for science wins god loses

    With his speech, valedictorian brings God to graduation – CNN ...


    3 days ago – https://www.facebook.com/ScienceWinsGodLoses ... Science likes war with its unlimited budgets and no rules and he who owns the gold rules.

    June 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Science

      But science does NOTlike wars lol??...................but does like the gold chondrites and comets create you KNOW !

      June 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Science

      use the fvcking little blue box lol??..................have cookie crumbs maybe ?

      June 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    Bible Fun Fact:
    Are you female? Have you ever engaged in premarital s.ex? Even if you're married now, did you have s.ex even once before you were married? Maybe when you were a teenager or your early twenties? 98% of American women have. Do you know what the bible says is the punishment for such wh.orish behavior? Let's check and see:

    "But if this thing be true, and the tokens of v.irginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the wh.ore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you." (Deuteronomy 22: 20-21)

    Well, looks like we must drag the non-virgin woman to her father's doorstep and there, with help from the whole town, stone her to death. Sorry 98% of women, Yahweh says you have to die. I'm guessing you're going to Hell, too. (Please note this punishment does not apply to men who do the exact same thing.)

    on the plus side, that last 2% of women left after we stone the rest to death will be right popular with the fellas.

    June 9, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Sue

      Bootyfunk, thanks for posting that. Maybe it will help a few more women to leave that awful, discriminatory and bigoted religion called Christianity.

      June 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Answer

      I haven't seen any religion that was founded by a female persona. It just goes to prove that men do love our control of things.

      From power to women.. all about getting what the male ego wants!

      June 9, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    i read this children's book. it had unicorns and satyrs and dragons! it had a talking donkey (like in shrek!) and a talking snake (like in the jungle book!) a guy lived for 3 days in the belly of a giant whale (like in pinocchio!) there was a magic kingdom made of clouds where you saw everyone you ever loved, even your old pets!
    man, it was a pretty crazy story, but since it's only a book of fairy tales for children, it's okay. there's no way a kid could actually grow up to believe any of that garbage. can't remember what the book was called. it was in the nightstand drawer at a hotel i was staying in. the last part, about the end of the world, was really scary, so maybe it wouldn't be good for kids. this tyrannical sky fairy and his zombie son kill 2/3 of the people on the planet. only if you join their nutjob cult do you get to live. couldn't help thinking i'd rather be dead. whoever wrote it sure had a demented imagination.

    June 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Science

      Bootyfunk.....................and those funky rubbers would work better in the hotel room drawers !

      June 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      hells yes! yay french ticklers!

      June 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Science

      Well the little one are att it again !

      June 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  5. Bootyfunk

    t.itle of the article should read:

    With his speech, valedictorian brings ignorance to graduation

    June 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  6. Richard Cranium

    What we really know.

    Men created the bible.
    The god of the bible is an impossibility.

    Also you didn't say which of the thousands of god you meant.

    We do not know with certainty that any of them exist, or do not.
    Saying that we know is nothing short of LYING.

    June 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Austin

      No Richard Cranium, I have proof of God. I have personal evidence as data, and if you reject all evidence of God, this has nothing to do with evidence, it has to do with rejection.

      June 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Richard Cranium,

      To your mindedness humanism way, the Gods do not exist. Many humanists believe in a superior power/being beyond our infantile like understanding ways. Even science has put 'stumbling blocks' in their way of reasoning. They claim that the 'universe' is finite and can only be 16 or so billion years old in our timely perspectives. What hogwash! The Great Cosmos goes way beyond any "universal orientation"! "This Cosmos is a Creation ever in the Making and is nearly forever being made within the infinite vastness of Spatial Nothingness!"

      June 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      No austin...you don't.
      You attribute things to a god, say that god has done this and that, but at no point do you have any evidence of god. You have a delusion. You cannot differentiate between belief and knowledge. You cannot use logic to see the cause and effect relationships. Just because you want something to happen, pray on it, and it happens does not show a cause and effect relationship.
      So no again austin, you do not have any CREDIBLE, VERIFIABLE evidence. You only have belief.

      Have you sought that help yet....you seriously are in need of it.

      June 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      incorrect .

      June 9, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

  7. Looks like CNN is caving to "faith"

    June 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      lying ism troll ism ism ism

      June 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Science

      The e word wins all the time creationists ..........no god(s) made US............get over IT

      Make sure to highlight above phrase..............then click on the little blue box and search with Bing.

      Think out side the box and have fun .

      June 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Are not our physical embodiments made up from living cellular life forms? Are not cellular life forms but manifestations of atomic cloisters of our unknowable understandings? Therefore, Could not our understandings on the Godly be found living upon the atomized cosmologies in a dimension not yet understood by our sciences?

      June 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Science

      Have you used the little blue box yet LL ?

      June 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  8. Mark Twain

    Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven....The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.

    June 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Mark Twain

      India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.

      June 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  9. Visitor

    I thought this young man just thanked g-d or something, and that this was really a tempest in a teapot. I didn't realize he actually recited a prayer. Rude young man. The school should have withheld his printed diploma although I am sure the fake kristian victims would then pulled out their pitchforks.

    June 9, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      As an individual, he has the right to freedom of speech. He can recite a prayer if he wants to. He has obviously earned his diploma, and they do not with hold them for rudeness.
      I disagree with what he said, but will defend to the death his right to say it.
      the presidents themselves often mention god and prayers in their speeches. This student broke no laws, and excersized his freedom of speech.
      He did not speak for the school, was not a representative of the school. As an individual, he has the right.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Yesterday upon the stair

      Yesterday upon the stair
      I met a man who wasn't there
      He wasn't there again today
      Oh how I wish he'd go away

      June 9, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Veronica

      @Richard, I disagree with you, because the school officials explicitly told him that he could not say a prayer or use this speech to talk about religion in any way. He intentionally broke the rules, and with his father's knowledge and permission, too. Yes, there is freedom of speech in this country, but that freedom is not absolute. He was told not to speak about religion and he did it anyway. He was wrong.

      June 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      They violated his freedom of speech. There is no reason that they should impose restrictions on him. The school is afraid of somoeone feeling bad so they decide to trounce his right to free speech?
      Clearly cowards in that school district. He has the right to say whatever he wants, and he earned the podium.

      June 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • visitor

      Richard, he has freedom of speech, he does not have freedom to break the rules when he is on the podium. He earned the right to submit and say his speech. He did not earn the right to break the rules.

      Have you seen graduation rules? Everything from what shoes to wear, how you walk on stage, how you walk off. If you break those rules, you are threatened with removal.

      This young man's status as valedictorian did not earn him the right to poke the rules of his school's graduation right in the eyes, any more than it would have been OK for the kids over 18 to just stand outside when they wanted and have a smoke. This isn't about freedom of speech, its about rule breaking, and I would say the same thing if some kids got up their and started spouting politics, or pro-abortion rallying cries. The kid is just an attention seeker. Well, he got it.

      On the other hand, it probably made another boring graduation ceremony interesting.

      June 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Yes...he broke the rules...the rules that violated his RIGHT to freedom of speech. Rules vs. rights. Rights win every time.

      June 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Ave atque Vale

      I'm sure this kid sees himself (and his fans see him) as a spunky rebel. Fact is, he agreed to the approved speech and broke his agreement. He cannot be trusted very much now. Job opportunities might be limited to being a preacher or anonymous self-employment.

      June 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Nah. He'll be fine. He's famous now. He can get a job managing a Chick-fil-a in the bible belt city of his choice. They like "rebels" who don't respect the civil rights of others.

      June 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • visitor

      Richard then every student that was not a valedictorian had the right to the same free speech. They all had the right to the stage to speechify, and every Ma and Pa can be proud of their speechifyin' grads. Blessed Be! May the Goddess be with all the grads of Liberty High School.

      June 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Now you are just being silly. The honor was his when they invited him to make a speech. Not all were invited to do so. That would be lunacy and no one would go to these things if everyone spoke. He earned the podium by working hard and being top of his class.
      I disagree with what he said, but he had the RIGHT to say it. There is no reason he should have been censored, and he violated no law by excercising his right.
      He is an individual. He has rights...he is not the inst!tution of the school nor a representative of the school working in any official capacity. He is an individual, and has the right to say anything he wants ( with very few exceptions)

      June 9, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Commenter

      Richard Cranium,

      I hear ya', but play along with this little thought experiment for a minute:

      If he had refused to have his speech pre-approved by the school authorities, and they therefore did not allow him to speak at the ceremony, and if he had gone to the ACLU (!?) for assistance, what do you think the outcome would have been?

      June 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Yoss

      A valedictorian speech is not a free speech zone.
      It is not a streetcorner, it is a school function, subject to school rules and the limitations on government-sponsored speech.
      Richard Cranium, you are aptly named.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
  10. Ned

    apart from any ideas of religion, the weight of sin is a force we recon with right now. We need the Helper.

    June 9, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Is that hamburger helper or tuna?

      June 9, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      And I'm pretty sure that you don't do "recon" on sin....also you do not reckon sin, so I'm not sure what word you were trying to use there.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Austin

      richard, hope i did i not t you off.

      June 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      You couldn't.
      Seriously though get that help.
      And why are you replying on this thread?

      June 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      No doubt you think you're making sense. You're not. I'm not sure "we need the Helper", but I'm pretty certain YOU need *help*.

      June 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  11. Vic

    In reference to:


    Comparing the Bible and Science is an invalid premise!

    The Bible is the Testimony to/Story of God before, during and after Life.

    Science (that is discovered by man) is basically a limited (bound by human finite ability) knowledge of some of the mechanisms of this existence which God created all.


    June 9, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Seyedibar

      The bible is no testimony to a god. The firsthalf of the bible is derived from Ugaritic mythology. In sources older than Hebrew or Aramaic, the god El who built the garden in the book of Genesis died of a wild boar attack. His sons Baal and Yahweh fought to fill the void and take control of his lands. It's preposterous for christians to accept the bible so willingly, yet reject the validity of the sources it was stolen from. It never purports to be the beginning of the world. In fact El came to Eden with his wives and family across the waters from another land, and it is agreed by scholars that the opening words of "In the Beginning, etc" were a 12th century addition to the text. By reading the Genesis account from the Dead Sea Scrolls we see that: your god lived on a mountain, he chopped down trees with his hands, had children from the wombs of women, and he ate the same food as people.
      Therefore your concept of god is nothing more than an early mortal king being worshiped by his followers.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Science

      Atheists to start 1-800 hotline for doubters..............go to page 21 of comments Vicky.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Amen

      Do you know of any credible web sites that back up what you say? I can only find atheist sites or comedians (Penn and Teller, Bill Maher) that have a clear agenda to attack religion. Thanks, I seriously try to look into such claims, but don't get very far.

      June 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Try any number of books on Ugaritic historical finds and mythology. And every person interested in religious study should own the latest translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is no dispute to the accuracy of the Ugaritic finds and how they relate to Egypt. And most of the hebrew writings are borrowed word for word from their older Egyptian sources anyway. The Ten Commandments are verbatim from how the goddess Maat recited them.

      June 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  12. Bostontola

    ronvan characterized atheists as anti god. Actually, only the religious have been anti god, anti other people's gods. Many wars have been fought by one religion against another or even one sect of one religion against another sect of the same religion. That's what I cal anti.

    June 9, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Austin

      if you actually think God or religion was the reason, reason not being man's hunger from blood or regional material gain and power, resources, pride.....ect (mans ways not God's ways) , then you are exploiting God with the distant past's group "unknown" individuals who are simply a sick and deranged product of the time...........................................................................................

      do you really think this has anything to do with the resurrection and plan of God?

      you are sick silly.

      June 9, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Bostontola


      June 9, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Bostontola

      On this blog yesterday, Christians posted hateful things about the Muslim religion, no land or power in play.

      June 9, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Austin

      ya but it s not about a muslim thing anymore, once a group of people start killing eachother, which both have, then they start hating and killing more. this is not muslim or christian, this is a human issue. This comes down to original sin.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Austin

      there will never be an issue of this kind , where the deepest cause of this selfishness does not present itself sinfully. that starts with the mimicry of truth.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Bostontola

      Please go back and read the OP. it is about who (people) is anti god, atheists or relic us people. I claim there is a preponderance of evidence that religious people are anti god (other than their own god).

      June 9, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Bostontola

      While the motives of the leaders that sent warriors to the crusades is unknown, it is not likely that the warriors killed for power, they got none. The vast majority killed for god. They were duped then just like billions are duped today.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Austin

      "for God" for themselves? was life a warrior dynasty lifestyle. were these civilians or allready paid and enlisted warriors. mayabe they were like the US. maybe they needed to boost the economy.

      back to "for God" Satan does things "for God". like in revelations, he persecutes his own followers. allowed by God. some sort of reciprocity? if you did something because God ordained it or told you too, that would mean there was a prophet with the direct revealed command.

      if you do something for yourself for your idea of God, this carries a human weight and condition.

      the freedom of religion is not what God intends. Period.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Austin

      now, with the obvious fact that God does not equal "the freedom of religion"

      please read the New Testament and apply everything it says in context. Seek the Prince of Peace, and the Almighty Counselor.

      Seek the voice of HIs Spirit, our Helper. and be aware of the spiritual battle, and be enlightened with the power of light as to the power and evil of the heart of man, understanding humanity for what it has shown. God has given us one peace in Christ. Because He is One with THE FATHER.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Bostontola

      Please stay on point. I wasn't talking about god, I was talking about people. A Christian said atheists were anti god. I said there is much more anti god behavior going on by religious people than atheists.

      June 9, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Austin

      thats not what it is really, and you used smaller case G. A person who is baptised by the Holy Spirit, would be anti satanic lies. this is way different than anti "g"od and , anti God.

      Be real.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Austin


      Please admit to yourself, who God is, and what god is.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Bostontola

      It all boils down to you believing you believe in the one true god. Others believe the same thing about different gods with pure motives. If satan made them do it, why didn't your God intervene?

      June 9, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • HeavenSent

      All fake religions are 95% copy of Jesus Christ's truth with 5% of satan's lies incorporated to insure evil flourishes. Satan's offspring share this world with us and ensured many fake religions were created throughout history. Why? To create doubt by not knowing you need to follow Jesus' truth so you can join their patriarch's lies into the eternal flames. Satan doesn't want to burn alone. Doubt worked with you unbelievers.

      P.S. Satan's offspring rewrite history which includes fake information as well as dates. No need to stretch your imagination on this fact. LOOK how posts on this site are deleted or the words "Your comment is awaiting moderation." posted underneath because unbelievers deny His truth.

      The true God Jesus Christ died for ALL to defeat death.

      Jesus warned,

      Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

      Matthew 7:13


      June 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  13. aldewacs

    "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" you babble on forever with:
    Prayer changes things

    Does your mother know your tell these lies all the time?

    June 9, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  14. ronvan

    TODAYS MODERN WORLD? Religion is becoming a thing of the past? Those that are anti God & religion are gaining ground! Like so many other "do gooder" groups WE are being forced to accept their points of view instead of accepting that WE ALL have different beleifs, standards, etc.! IF one is to speak about God or religion then you had better be ready for EVERY other religion and non beleivers to speak also! WHY is it that at certain times we use the term " lets have a moment of silence", normally used for a tragedy and loss of life, and WE know that it is really a time to say a prayer for those lost? God & religion is slowly being taken "underground" as if it were a bad thing! And YES, I beleive & have faith in my God & Savior! BUT, there are many unanswered, and unprovable questions! WHO of us, pro or con, can PROVE either ones side or view? NO ONE!

    June 9, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Science

      Yea the sh-it is happening again hey lol??.............YOU KNOW.

      The pentagram ..............markings of an implosion on a chondrite/stony iron meteorite.

      Doobs comment disappeared also that was under post with comment about the pentagram lol??


      June 9, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Bostontola

      You are free to worship in any private place, church, mosque, ... No need to go underground. Most atheists are not anti god, they simply don't believe in god. No need to be threatened by that.

      June 9, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Click here to cancel reply.

      The bible is filled with eye witness accounts of God proving himself. It is only that people believe, or not, what was said by the witnesses. Someone today could tell you similar things, and it would be the same thing all over again... people believe, or not, what was said by the witnesses. It comes down to one thing, what does someone want... do they want the truth, or not. Do they want to find God... or do they want the "nothing god" instead?

      June 9, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Bostontola

      Click here...,
      Do you feel comfortable having "eye witness" and "truth" in same post?

      June 9, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Vic


      June 9, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • JWT

      I rest easy in the knowledge of the truth that none of the 1000s of gods matter to me.

      June 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    I think I am going crazy *^#% Please help me.

    June 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
  16. Observer

    @as always,

    What is the point?

    lol. Get serious. Actually READ a Bible.

    June 8, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • as always

      observer gets excited and misses the reply key sad really

      June 8, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • Observer

      @as always,

      As always, you offer no proof or explanation. Just mindless criticism.

      READ a Bible.

      June 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • as always

      the farther observer goes the more pathetic it gets

      June 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • as always

      observer gets the sympathy vote

      June 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Observer

      @as always,

      You haven't provided ONE FACT that can be verified. Just brainless criticism without proof. Pathetic.

      June 8, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  17. LinCA


    The comment thread on page 35 seems to have been removed. Below is my reply to your comment on that thread. I said:


    Oh, the ignorance.

    You said, "I have a theory about why you seem so angry and bitter towards religion and christians in general."
    And your guess would be?

    You said, "You most likely won't admit if I'm right or not, but maybe it will be something for you to think about."
    Unless you tell me what this "theory" is, I won't be able to think about it.

    You said, "Let's say you guys managed to do the impossible and do away with all religion In America."
    What makes you believe I would want to do away with religion? You, and everyone else, are free to believe and worship as you see fit. I only have a problem with the influence of those silly beliefs on society and me.

    You said, "Would you guys pick up the slack for the billions that would be lost in charities and funding?"
    In effect you are saying you'd be a tightwad and a prick if it weren't for your silly beliefs, right? Research has shown atheists to be on average more giving and compassionate than believers, so you may have a point about believers being intrinsic assholes that only do good because their religion demands it.

    You said, "How would you change the lives and hearts of some of the people in the rest of the world (who do things that you probably couldn't dream of)? Would you tell them to listen to reason?"
    The same as what I do now. Promote education, equality, science, volunteerism, etc.

    You said, "What would you say when they told you that what they where doing was perfectly reasonable?"
    I'd ask them to evaluate why they think their actions are "perfectly reasonable".

    You said, "How would you answer the problem of hope and purpose (you might say that it's irrational but that would only mean that the vast majority of people on earth are irrational)?"
    The vast majority of people have little ability to comprehend a logical argument. That's in large part why religions are so successful.

    Hope and purpose have been co-opted by the various religions to keep their sheeple in line. Being an atheist doesn't mean you don't have hope or purpose. It just isn't exactly the same hope and purpose that are peddled by religion.

    You said, "How would you determine whats right and wrong, and what would you use to convince anybody to listen?"
    Again, you seem to be suggesting that you, and all other believers, would be horrible people. You seem to be suggesting that you would be incapable of determining right from wrong. You seem to be suggesting that, without religion, 80% of the American people would be murderers and rapists.

    Here is an easy to understand explanation of why you are so wrong. Follow the links at the end of the video for parts 2 and 3.

    You said, "And is this phrase true (why or why not) : "If God does not exist, everything is permitted"?"
    See above.

    June 8, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Science

      Yea the sh-it is happening again hey lol??.............YOU KNOW...........Christians Be Nice article too !

      The pentagram ..............markings of an implosion on a chondrite/stony iron meteorite.

      Doobs comment disappeared also that was under post with comment about the pentagram lol??


      June 9, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  18. aallen333

    You have heard the saying, 'there are no atheists in a foxhole'. The saying is also true, 'there are no atheists at the moment after de-th'. The question remains, 'where will you be when you realize that faith in atheism was the biggest mistake of your life'.

    June 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Observer

      You apparently are completely confused about BELIEVING in God and HOPING there is a God.

      Get real.

      June 8, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Agnostic


      If there is a god, it will undoubtedly reward us for having to put up with silly, pompous pr!cks like you for our whole lives!

      June 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      When your argument for god breaks down to 'he is going to hurt you real bad if you don't believe' you con be assured you worship a ficticious monster.

      June 8, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "You have heard the saying, 'there are no atheists in a foxhole'."
      Bullshit. Let me know when you believe in the Tooth Fairy again. Once you shed silly beliefs like believing in the Toot Fairy, or gods, there is really no going back.

      You said, "The saying is also true, 'there are no atheists at the moment after de-th'."
      All belief stops at death, your silly beliefs included, because your brain stops working.

      You said, "The question remains, 'where will you be when you realize that faith in atheism was the biggest mistake of your life'."
      No, the question is, when will believers realize they've wasted their entire lives trying to please a figment of their imagination?

      June 8, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      might sound really fvcking ominous - except for minor little detail...Theres No God...never has been...never will be...
      its why we all die at the same stinking rate when an epidemic hits...believer or non believer, its why little kids suffer and die at the hands of azzholes by the thousands every year .(unless you want to explain that one for me and how it relates to some bul lshiite cosmic plan- I d really love to see you attempt that one).

      just a bunch of cr ap....

      June 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Unless you yourself believe in all 3,700+ other deities that mankind has invented, then you yourself are also an atheist. Have fun feeding your heart to Amemet or living upsidedown in China's otherworld or being ripped apart by the Erinyes. Each is just as likely as your own religion's scenario.

      June 9, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • tallulah13


      Actually, there are atheists in the military currently serving in war zones. Some have even given their lives (Pat Tillman comes to mind) and yet you blithely insult and disrespect them them with your trite cliche.

      You may want to check out this website before you make ignorant statements again:

      Also, please stop projecting your own personal cowardice on others. You have no idea what will be going through the minds of atheists when they die. You are just pretending to have special knowledge, when in fact you can't even prove that your god exists.

      June 9, 2013 at 3:00 am |
    • Corporal Rodriguez, Atheist

      aallen333, you are an ignorant and and foolish person, and you have insulted many military people. My prior words are justified by what you posted. There are and have been many atheists in our military. See here

      Please show enough courage and respect to retract your evidently false statement in that regard.

      Now, as to your concluding line, use the internet search tools at your disposal to search on Pascal's Wager. That is what your last line is, and it is a famously broken argument for the existence of your particular old man in the sky.

      June 9, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Corporal Rodriguez, Atheist

      Thanks, talullah13. Our posts are similar( and your reactions are faster than mine).

      June 9, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  19. capitalist

    Thank you Roy Costner III. You have pioneered the way for non-Xtian valedictorians to espouse their non-Xtian beliefs in future commencement speeches. Thank you again.

    June 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
  20. TG

    Due to the churches setting the pattern of only preaching from a pulpit, this young man felt that this was the right thing to do, citing the "Lord's Prayer". However, there is much more to being a Christian than just saying "I am a Christian" or citing the model prayer that Jesus told while on the Mount of Olives.(Matt 6:9-13)

    For one to be genuine, Jesus said that these would bear "fine fruit" and not the "worthless fruit" that the churches have been dispensing for centuries.(Matt 7:17) As Jesus said, that both "a good tree" and "rotten tree" would be known by its "fruit."(Matt 7:20) What is the "fine fruit" that is the mark of a genuine Christian ?

    These would be identified by agape love, self-sacrificing love.(John 13:34, 35) They would also be active in making known "the good news of the kingdom" (Matt 24:14), be it from "house to house" (Acts 5:42) or on the streets or in the "marketplace" or anywhere where people are.(Acts 17:17)

    In fact, to gain everlasting life from our Creator, Jehovah God, requires this: "For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation."(Rom 10:10) Hence, a necessary requirement to gain salvation is to speak of God's kingdom and other Bible truths publicly, and not like the churches who have a "paid pastor" to preach a sermon while the "laity" just listen.

    June 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      What a bunch of babbling idiocy!

      June 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      What do Christians do week in and week out....say the same ritualistic prayers,some that have been said for 1800 years...
      Sing the same hymns, some that have been around for hundreds of years..... the same rituals over and over and over...

      Creator of the damn universe....and these are the best instructions? Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient ? yet the Bible is the best he can do? Able to see all times and dimensions....complete scientific knowledge yet the Ten Commandments are the best he can do?

      Really? there's nothing wrong here?

      June 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
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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.