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. Dyslexic doG

    If I was powerful enough to have created the universe, I wouldn't let three innocent girls be held and abused for 10 years. That’s the difference between me and your God.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • anthony parks

      There you go with your IF crap again. Do you have a job? I look at your post times, and it's all FVCKING day long. What exactly do you get paid to do? Or are my tax dollars supporting you're pathetic a-ss.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • anthony parks

      And you are NOT powerful enough to do Sh-t without your Mom and Dads permission. You waste of sperm.

      June 10, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Dippy

      Parks, it's "your," not "you're." Go back to sixth grade and try harder.

      June 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    If I was powerful enough to have created the universe, I wouldn't let tornadoes kill innocent little elementary school children. That’s the difference between me and your God.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      its all part of "the plan", man

      June 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Fisher of Men

      Man welcomes sin therefore they pay for sin just as God warned you and their innocent children pay. You should be preaching to the sinners who embrace sin, not the God who warned you all.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      If I were god, I wouldn't make a universe so easily breakable that one wrong arm movement to pick one fruit would cause a distortion of the entire system. (Similarly, I'd not leave weapons out when there are kids around). What a stupid god to make a perfect creation balanced on a knife-edge so that one wrong arm movement fvcks up the entire thing. It'd be like a car maker designing an automobile to blow up an entire city if the driver doesn't change the oil on time. (Of course the Christians would blame the auto maker for that–hypocrites.)

      June 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Ineffable

      It's always amusing to see how the court jesters go on and on about what they would do if they were infinite and all powerful when they are in fact finite and ignorant.
      Oh the little people are so funny.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Cpt. Obvious............that's why you are not God. You don't have a clue what you are talking about.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Fisher of Men,

      Sounds like justification of evil. I guess your god IS in fact, that trite. "You sinners did me wrong, so I'm going to kill your kids!" Very mature.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Answer

      "..that's why you are not God. You don't have a clue what you are talking about."

      –And the religious cretins can actually tell you that they do know.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      AH, your god wanted a diseased and hurting world but didn't want the credit for making it that way, so he made it fragile on purpose. God is either incredibly stupid or disgustingly evil. Your pick.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Athiest Hunter

      you and your god kills your kids. God is fair and he gave us choice and we blew it! Face it, man chose Satan's fragile world through arrogance. Good luck with it.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Answer

      "man chose Satan's fragile world through arrogance. Good luck with it."

      –Just look at the religious nut talk. "Man" – equating to "every person". HAHAHAHA

      Freaks are so glorious in saying that they themselves didn't choose "satan", but they chose "god". And are saved.

      "Oh bless me for I am going to heaven and you are damned." << – freaks. What a bunch of losers.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • sam stone

      Fisher of men: Your god punishes the innocent? What a pr1ck

      June 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      "when they are in fact finite and ignorant."

      just like the people who wrote the bible

      June 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Ineffable

      And you are still as finite and ignorant as them sammy
      cha cha cha

      June 10, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • fred

      You just have perfect beings filled with eternal joy and happiness from the beginning? And God said let their be heaven....end of story

      June 10, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    If I could stop a child from starving, I would. That’s the difference between me and your God.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Athiest Hunter

      prove it...donate to feed the children every month.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Answer

      Go and prove your god.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Athiest Hunter

      My God doesn't need me to prove him, he is I AM. What makes you think a creation could prove it's Creator? You're science even calls that silly.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, goody. It's the forum's dumbest kid poster back again for more lessons on apostrophes, contractions and that pesky "i before e" thing.

      You dummy, you can't even figure out how to tie your own shoes.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      argumentum bad grammar?

      June 10, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • fred

      Forget the starving kid sound bite. Man has the technology and resources to feed everyone on this planet 2 times over. We choose to put our time and resources into other things we desire more. The fact we have starving kids is proof just how sick our hearts really are. That is why man needs a savior.

      June 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  4. Fisher of Men

    Our Father, which art in heaven,
    Hallowed be thy Name.
    Thy Kingdom come.
    Thy will be done in earth,
    As it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    As we forgive them that trespass against us.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil.
    For thine is the kingdom,

    The power, and the glory,

    For ever and ever.


    June 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I bow before the God Vishnu,
      Who is personification of peace,
      Who sleeps on his folded arms,
      Who has a lotus on his belly,
      Who is the God of gods,
      Who is the basis of earth,
      Who is similar to the sky,
      Who is of the colour of the cloud,
      Who has beautiful limbs,
      Who is the consort of Lakshmi,
      Who has lotus like eyes,
      Who is seen by saints through thought,
      Who kills all worries and fears,
      And who is the lord of all the worlds.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Doc Vestibule...........poor delusional fellow.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Amen!

      Amen to the Model prayer/The Lord's Prayer.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
      þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
      hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
      Oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
      monegum mægþum, meodosetla ofteah,
      egsode eorlas. Syððan ærest wearð
      feasceaft funden, he þæs frofre gebad,
      weox under wolcnum, weorðmyndum þah,
      oðþæt him æghwylc þara ymbsittendra
      ofer hronrade hyran scolde,
      gomban gyldan. þæt wæs god cyning!
      Ðæm eafera wæs æfter cenned,
      geong in geardum, þone god sende
      folce to frofre; fyrenðearfe ongeat
      þe hie ær drugon aldorlease
      lange hwile.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Athiest Hunter

      Doc Vestibule........yep, does that really get you anywhere???

      June 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Fisher of Men


      - Bait 'em
      - Hook 'em
      - Kill 'em
      - Eat 'em... or sell 'em for fertilizer or other products

      The guy who thought up that analogy was pretty silly.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  5. Dyslexic doG

    If I could stop a person from raping a child, I would. That’s the difference between me and your God.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You can't even stop yourself.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Are you calling someone a rapist, Billy? You really are drunk.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      That drunk thing from a few months ago has really been working on you hasn't it tom?

      June 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  6. STFU

    hey lion lamb, what would you say to people using viagra, cialis, la pela? is it against religion?

    June 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Considering the nitwit is on all sorts of anti-convulsants and psychotropic meds, he probably thinks pills are the equivalent of a communion wafer.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    A Prayer To J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

    Oh Dobbs, canst thou not hear my plea
    In my utter 'umbleness
    for Lo! Dobbs, I am nothing but a loathsome piece of sh.it
    before thy ultimate and divine power
    who smoketh the pipe of infinity, the pipe of the universe
    Can I not be washed in the smoke of the pipe?

    June 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  8. Bootyfunk

    The More You Know wrote:

    'I'll take a Christian over a humanist if you represent them at their best."

    why? i'm truly challenging you here. explain why. why do you think christian morals are better than humanist ethics? please, i'd love a serious answer here instead of a superfluous ad hominem attack.

    June 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Science

      Bootyfunk.............the little blue thingy .

      306,000 resultsAny time

      When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs – CNN Belief Blog ...


      Apr 28, 2013 · Not by the horn-y red thingy CHAD ! ... Do you listen to the "secular humanist" weather forecast or do you go for the one that ... I understand you ...


      June 10, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • The More You Know

      I don't have faith in human ethics. I think we need something more than just another better moral philosophy.

      I do have faith in what Jesus Christ asks us to do. He asks us to love others. And, for instance, the 10 Commandments: they are not a set of rules that come from an invisible sky fairy that we follow blindly like some drugged out cult members.

      God loves our neighbors – so they 10 Commandments teach us how to treat them.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Answer

      The jesus freaks are so indoctrinated to think that "humanity" is nothing compared to their delusions.

      "My god is more loving; my god is more caring; my god is more dependable – than humanity." <<– Damn ass freaks.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you should have faith in human ethics - they are much superior to religious morals. for instance, modern ethics tell us slavery is wrong - the bible promotes slavery throughout, even has rules for beating and selling your slaves. the bible says non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone working the weekend is worthy of death - modern ethics tell us differently.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • The More You Know

      God has never failed me.

      Human beings have failed me.

      Human ethics justify slavery – like when someone is in debt and sells themselves into slavery.

      Do you have some book or website about your human ethics you follow?

      Our country supports slavery (which means you do, too). Why should I listen to you preach about slavery?

      June 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Answer

      "God has never failed me." << - So laughable.

      The one sentence the religious cretins put up is so hilarious.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Answer

      When you die, it isn't a god that handles your body and puts you in the ground.

      When you are in trouble, it isn't a god that helps you. It is another human being.

      When you are all alone, it isn't a god that talks to you.. it's your friends.

      --Ask yourself this one thing: "Am I dependable? More than your god?"

      If you're any kind of human and you don't even appreciate your own dependability, then you know you have been subverted by the religious cults.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • The More You Know

      Then this should be very simple and easy for you to do:

      Where has God failed me?

      June 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • The More You Know

      Yes! That God has created us to be in relationship with each other.

      -Ask yourself this one thing: "Am I dependable? More than your god?"-

      Ok, that is 2 things actually.

      Am I dependable?


      More than your god?

      Am I more dependable than God? No.

      That is actually a good thing.

      I need a God who is more dependable than me.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      The More You Know,

      Which God?

      June 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • The More You Know

      I know plenty of people who are not dependable and have rejected God.

      What is your point?

      June 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • The More You Know

      – A Frayed Knot

      Our Creator.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Inivisible and undetectable things like Santa and God are not "dependable" as far as we can determine. If god were "dependable," there'd be only one religion and every believer would believe the same thing. God not only is not dependable, he's so invisible and undetectable that we can't even determine whether or not he exists. As far as can be determined by ANYONE, god is irrelevant.

      God is dependable at never being there, for sure. He's as dependable as the tooth fairy at not showing up.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      The More,
      "Our Creator."

      Who or what is that?

      June 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Answer

      Asked yourself : did your god ever touch you? Did your god ever caress you?

      Are you that sad that you can't see how much a failure you religious freaks are? LOL

      June 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • The More You Know

      @ A Frayed Knot

      Be open to the idea of a power behind this universe that knows and loves you. Get on your knees and ask this "God" to reveal Himself to you.

      If nothing happens – do yourself a favor and just ignore me.

      Or try doing this for a few weeks and just see what happens.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • The More You Know

      – Answer

      – Are you that sad that you can't see how much a failure you religious freaks are?

      Is your life so bad that you have to resort to making fun of religious freak failures to feel better about yourself?

      Do you make fun of mentally retarded adults, too?

      June 10, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Answer

      Of course.. you're one of them.

      Feel free to tell me that you need your delusions more and more. I love to see how far you nuts are armed up about your "failures of mankind" and "my god is always dependable."

      Makes me laugh all the time. 🙂

      June 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      It's amazing that humans survived for 97,000 years without a book of morals.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • The More You Know

      The Bible is not a book of morals. That is a common misconception.

      In fact it is believed by some that Jesus specifically spoke in parables so He wouldn't be perceived as just a teacher of a new moral philosophy.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Answer

      On that note.. further more it is believed to be a crock.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Excuse me, I thought we were talking about ethics and the 10 Commandments.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • The More You Know

      Actually, Bootyfunk asked me:

      Why do you think christian morals are better than humanist ethics?

      Which I don't. They are both about the same. Imperfect and flawed.

      That is why I trust in Jesus Christ.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Answer


      Don't be silly. These religious fraeks have just one agenda.

      "Promote god."

      -Every chance they get. They'll spew their emotional sponge act and define the whole of humanity as "unworthy."
      To them, when they get a chance to just plug away and tell you "how fabulous they've been enriched by their delusion" – they'll do it. Never will they offer up why they chose their accepted believe in the first place.

      They can't tell you how fearful they are that their comfort is just an illusion.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Answer

      "That is why I trust in Jesus Christ." << - see.

      –It can be said that these losers enjoy this one aspect of comfort. They can't express to the world that this is a wet dream.

      What they are saying is this "I can't human kind and neither can I trust myself."

      Religion – they've been reduced to s-c-u-m and they've accepted it.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio


      I once heard a saying that went something like, arguing with the religious is like putting your hand into a bowl of jello. There's never anything firm to grab onto.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Answer


      That is correct.

      They hate to stay on topic. What they really really want is just someone to accept their bs.
      They want someone to just say "I approve of your silly garbage." Which is of course never gonna happen.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • The More You Know

      Somebody told me that arguing with an atheist is like playing chess with a monkey. You could make the best moves ever but in the end the monkey is going to throw the chess board and dance around like it won.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Scientists can't stand mysteries. At least unfunded ones.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Just got a great mental image of a dancing monkey in a lab coat LOL thanks!

      June 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • The More You Know

      I like most Christians I know fully support, encourage, finance, learn about and teach science.

      It is the study of God's creation.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Dare I ask, The More You Know

      Why do you trust Jesus?

      June 10, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Answer

      The world is full of mysteries that scientists love to dig at; to find out the fears behind the human conditions that founded them; to give answers so that man can move onwards to newer heights.

      Religious s-c-u-m all want to go back to the dark ages in their worship. Just so funny.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • The More You Know

      What he asks – when carried out will be beautiful.

      Plus he stood up against the religious folk of his time.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      And how do you know it will be beautiful?

      June 10, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • Answer

      So the retard spews out a "good sound bite for himself."


      When confronted use your soothing words that you were taught to use.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • The More You Know

      Rev. Martin Luther King, JR:
      "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

      And so I'm happy, tonight.

      I'm not worried about anything.

      I'm not fearing any man!

      Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!"

      I've seen the Promised Land that MLK, JR talks about.

      I've got hope.

      June 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Answer

      So funny.

      They go and search out all their little sayings. To reassure themselves again and again and again.

      Psychological barriers to protect their little inner child. lol

      June 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      As a humanist, I appreciate the value and abilities of human beings. I prefer thought and evidence over doctrine or faith. Human value is not dependent upon god or Jesus.

      June 10, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • The More You Know

      I can relate to that.

      I just can't deny God. Honest.

      June 10, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Answer

      So afraid to leave their little comfy corners of their minds.

      June 10, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      The More You Know
      "Somebody told me that arguing with an atheist is like playing chess with a monkey. You could make the best moves ever but in the end the monkey is going to throw the chess board and dance around like it won."

      I have yet to see a good move let alone the best move from a believer. Circular logic supporting superstitiOns from millenia ago in the face of conclusive evidence that the foundational parts of your religion are bogus barely qualifies as a move. What else have you got?

      June 10, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  9. lionlylamb

    At conception, one's atomized essence is willfully given up to become a cellular monolith of celestial proportions!

    June 10, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Which God?

      You sure spouted a mouthful of bullschitt. Gibberish to the Nth degree.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Richard Cranium


      June 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Prayer

      To whatever god there maybe, will you not take lionlylamb, lol??, Austin, Chad, Bill Deacon, fred, HeavenSent, et al into your heavenly bossom, the sooner the better.
      PS: Grab the Costner kid while your at it he will de a pain in the ass in the future. Costner the IV no less, how regal.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      I know I know! I should have proofed before post! Here is my post modified,

      :At conception, one's atomized essence, (being the soul) is willfully given up to become a multi-cellular monolith of celestial proportions!"

      June 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • STFU

      for simple minded people it just bang bang, nothing more.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • The real Tom

      It doesn't matter how many words you italicize or spell correctly, you idiot, it's still drivel.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @ The Real Tom

      Are you suggesting the the famous argument from italics is fallacious? 😉

      June 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      The real Tom,

      Now who is the first one to sling muddy words around? Should I cast in likewise manner or should I let the chips alone? You tell me TrT!

      June 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      argument from italics. That's funny

      June 10, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      People just can't find my word salad tasty enough,,, French T-r-Tom dressing perhaps? Maybe a quick Reality toss?! Where the hoot is the fun found in making tasty word salads and seeing nothing but belly aching folks trying very hard to not eat My Senior Aged Word Salads?

      June 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Vicky/LL, I'm sure the word play went right over your head.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  10. The real Tom

    If anything makes this little weasel's act look phony and full of ego, it's the "drama" of his ripping up his speech at the podium. He's a little diva. It was his moment in the sun and he thought he was big stuff standing for his faith. Yeah, brave boy.

    June 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      he had to stand up for God so he could have a chance to get to heaven. After all the master.bat.ing he did through high school, he was going straight to he.ll.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Nancy

      I half-expected the song "Love Lift Us Up" to start up and Richard Gere to appear to swing him off his feet.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Nancy

      I half expected the song "Love Lift Us Up" to start up.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Nancy

      I hate when CNN does this crap.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      The real Tom,

      "The freedom to voice one's humanistic appraisals is one thing but to have a captive audience thru which to invoke the Lord's Prayer is not really worthy of the Gods' praises nor should be glorified by captivated humanists' applauses."

      June 10, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      LL/Vicky: Why are you italicizing every word you write, you moron? Do you think it makes your drivel precious?

      June 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nancy: I half expected the song "Love Lift Us Up" to start up.

      Good one. These morons probably think that's the best song ever!

      June 10, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Ridiculous. Everyone knows the best song is "Hooked on a Feeling"

      June 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    there is a recipe for an abortion potion in the bible, so i'm not sure why christians are so against abortion. this one only works on women that have cheated on their husbands though.

    June 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  12. Nancy

    Aw, c'mon! Post it. Or whisper it in my ear and I'll post it.

    June 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  13. Science

    Question creationists...............when are you all going to get over the red horn-y thingy and understand evolution ?

    June 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Alias

      Question Evolutoinists
      When are you going to understand tha science is hard. Learning takes time and effort. Why bother when we can just say "god did it' and go back to watching Nascar?
      This will answer all difficult questions and let us drink our beer while the cars make left turns.
      We like believeing we are good people and everyonr eveywhere will receive their eternal justice. We want to pass all the hard work onto god. we sleep well at night knowing that all the important stuff is taken care of. We will never question that in the ned all you people we don't like are going to get lave enemas while we float in gleeful bliss.
      We have no motivation to change our views.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Science

      But alias................last time I stop at a red light I could turn right on a red light ?

      June 10, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Science

      oops Alias.............and stopped.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Alias

      You would not do well in Nascar.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • required

      The deal is science, we get to have Jesus, God, and Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ of Nazareth's sacrifice for sins if we believe him and repent for our sins... and heaven... and spiritual treasure... and incredible hapiness.

      Everyone else gets nothing.

      That was the final offer, so we agreed... because time is running out for the deal... and nothing isn't a very attractive offer to us.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, goody. Threats from a Christian. How very loving.

      The worst thing I can imagine is sharing eternity with assholes like Dull Beacon, HeavenScat, and Chard.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • science

      Alias.....................but the Crabber Blue Mustang I have went straight as an arrow on the 1/4 mile the other day.

      11.9 seconds.

      Science wins over creationism in South Korea

      Government asks publishers to retain examples of evolution in science textbooks.



      June 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Alias


      this only works if your jesus is not the guy who cuts grass in my neighborhood.
      Otherwise we all get nothing.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Alias

      I was clearly talking about Nascar, not everyday street driving, NASCAR!
      It's just like you 'evolutionists' to take things out of context and paraphrase my post then argue against a point I never made. If an angel was here it would be crying.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Science

      Alias.............can not help you with the angels as the pope tossed them out of the manger last xmas..

      June 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog



      June 10, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Dick Trickle (best name ever!) used to smoke while behind the wheel in NASCAR races.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  14. Reality

    Dear "Three B'd" Valedictorians Across the Globe, (Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion),


    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    June 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Nancy

      This totally made me yawn; thanks.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Reality

      For those who have trouble staying awake:







      Added details upon request.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  15. Alias

    Ther is a pun to be made about the middle man and cutting, but i'm not quite twisted enough to post it.

    June 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  16. Nancy

    Cut out the middleman?

    June 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  17. Doc Vestibule

    I still fail to see how this boy is "brave" for pandering to his audience.
    It's akin to the speaker at a Star Trek convention putting away their notes to say "Space.... the final frontier..."

    June 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      it's the same old mystical nonsense repeated by the indoctrinated.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      LOL! most accurate post yet.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • .

      The principal told him not to.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • .

      A kid standing up to the pricicpal is brave. A kid going on CNN is brave.
      What have you done that is so brave?

      June 10, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Volunteered for military service...you?

      June 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • .

      Same here.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Honestly, what an apt comparison, and I won't lie if I were at a convention and a speaker started with those words, I would repeat every word right along with him (hell, I did that during Star Trek Into Darkness in the theaters the other day). True about calling it "brave" though. It reminds me of 30 Rock when Tracy decides to stage a protest by doing nothing and then shouting "I'm Brave!"

      June 10, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      going against the principal was brave? lol. he knew there would be no repercussions. not brave at all. cowardly to force people to hear hm preach his silly beliefs. brave? lol. proly 90%+ of the audience were christian. brave would have been if a muslim went up and did that, and recited the prayer in arabic. and going on CNN to pander more support for his preaching in a public arena isn't brave - it's getting his 15 min of fame for something he knows will make him a hometown hero.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • fred

      Jesus said:
      Luke 19:40
      “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

      You cannot drown the voice of God if He chooses to speak through anyone.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      That's why all those people speak in tongues, right?
      Wouldn't want the stones to cry.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    The Free Exercise Clause: "Congress shall make no law ... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (religion)" This valedictorian was freely acting according to what he believed his God wants of him, what his religion encourages him to do. However, holding the speaker's podium and the microphone didn't make him the bravest one in the room. Anyone who might have stood up in the audience, Muslim, non-theist, Hindu, anyone, and spoken clearly saying that what he was saying is nonsense to most of the world and a repetition of lies he has been told throughout his life would have been far braver. Therefore, challenge these people when they stand up in front of you and use the podium as a pulpit to give authority to their own religious ideas. Your ideas can be freely expressed in the same public forums.

    June 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      he wants to give a prayer? go to a park and shout it out. but at a public high school paid for by tax dollars? no. people shouldn't be forced to hear citations from religious books. i don't care if he thanks god - but deliver a prayer? no. shouldn't be allowed. again, if someone said they were a Satan worshiper, would they be allowed to deliver a prayer from a dark bible? one that praised Lucifer? or would they have been shut down by the faculty? and shouted down from the audience? but it's okay if kids from other religions or having no religion are made to sit through a prayer at a gov't facility? completely inappropriate.

      keep prayer out of school. pray at home, at church or a park - but not in a gov't facility.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      "Our fathers who died and are nowadays in the heavens of the most heavenly, hallowed be their names. There kingdoms now come, their wills to be so done as was upon earth but now willfully done within their new heavens. Give all their daily bread and mercies upon those in most needs of mercy. For theirs are of God's kingdom domains and powers and glories are given to our fathers forever on and until the time leaves them to once again return to this earth to be of God's Celestially Chosen."

      June 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      LL/Vicky: The day you say anything meaningful, notify the media.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  19. Observer

    What this young man did was open Pandora's box that will be very difficult to put the lid back on. As many have already pointed out on this board, what would the audience reaction been if a student would have gotten up and read from the Quran. Or performed a Wiccan ritual, or read from the Torah? I have a feeling he wouldn't be receiving quite so many congratulations. I don't see what is so difficult about this to understand. Sure, pray all you want. Go home, or church, and pray for 12 hours straight if you want. Invite your friends over to your house and pray all night if you want to. But DON'T lead a prayer in a public place paid for with public monies, especially to a captive audience. We hear all about freedom of religion in this country, but don't forget that we also have freedom FROM religion. Unless you are prepared to give ALL religious beliefs equal time, you would be much better off keeping your religion to your own home, church on your own time.
    What's sad is that since there really isn't any way for the school to prevent this, what they will probably do is eliminate the address from the valedictorian as part of the ceremony. Schools are under no obligation to hold such ceremonies and if some students make a mockery of them to the point that they are more trouble than they are worth, they will be done away with.

    June 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      very, very well said.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  20. Bootyfunk

    and what would have happened if a kid went up and started an islamic prayer or a wiccan prayer? the christians would have went nuts. but since it's their religion being pushed in other people's faces, it's okay. yep, it's still okay to promote one religion above all others - as long as it's christianity.

    i would have loved if the next kid went up and gave a prayer to Satan. i wonder if the audience would have been so receptive.

    June 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • OutslideMan

      The Christians would act EXACTLY like the atheists on this board. You guys are so alike! So cute.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      your comment makes zero sense. try again.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • OutslideMan

      The atheists are going nuts over this. If you don't keep it perfectly secular and politically correct – the atheists go nuts. We have a right to say "God" as you have a right to say "me me me me and more me".

      June 10, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      if Bootyfunk wanted sh1t from you, he would have squeezed your head!

      June 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      it's isn't that he said "God" - he gave a prayer. but because you are in the cult, you don't understand the difference. i don't care if someone says, "I thank God" or "i definitely don't thank God." that's different than citing prayers out of a holy book.

      would you be defending his right to force everyone to hear him preach if he'd said he worshiped Satan and wanted to deliver a prayer from the Necronomicon? no, i bet you wouldn't - you hypocrite.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Outslide Man

      @ would you be defending his right to force everyone to hear him preach if he'd said he worshiped Satan and wanted to deliver a prayer from the Necronomicon? no, i bet you wouldn't – you hypocrite.

      Yes I would support them. I'm not a Christian. You don't have to be a Christian to believe in God. You don't have to be a Christian to see the atheists that post on here are as loonie as the people they profess to hate.

      2 most annoying people in America: Fundamentalist Christians and Internet Atheists.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well, then you would promote prayer in a courthouse too? or the post office? or social security office? all gov't facilities? that's where we differ. i don't think you have the right to read scripture at those places, schools included. you don't have to hide your belief – but you don't get to preach. you can walk out to the sidewalk outside the school and preach – but not on school grounds.

      and you forgot the third most annoying person: the pompous "unofficial" religious d.ouche. "i think my my opinion counts more because i don't belong to a brand name church." you blather your opinion as much as any fundie or non-believer, but are arrogant and self-deluded enough to think you're above it. lol.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Outslide Man

      I'm against state endorsed religion. I think an individual has the right to talk about God. And reciting a 30 second prayer from memory isn't that horrible of a thing. We all have to listen to things we don't like from time to time. Practice some tolerance.

      June 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why do you bozos think the fact that it was "from memory" matters? It was a prayer. It doesn't matter how long it was or whether it was memorized or not. The SCOTUS makes no such distinctions. Why do you think they have any bearing?

      June 10, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i agree with Tom. length or ability to memorize has zero to do with it. he's promoting religion in a gov't facility. it's promoting religion. and you may think it was okay for a satan worshiper to go up and give a prayer, but i guarantee the people there would not have. they would have stopped him. but since it was christian prayer - it's okay. he should have stuck to the speech instead of preaching at people that may not want to hear it but have no choice.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Outslide Man

      Most atheists on here claim he has a right to say that prayer. That is protected by free speech. It was just in poor judgement, in their opinion.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "I'm against state endorsed religion. I think an individual has the right to talk about God. And reciting a 30 second prayer from memory isn't that horrible of a thing. We all have to listen to things we don't like from time to time. Practice some tolerance."

      Nobody that I can recall is saying it is a "horrible thing." However, the nutters here are cheering for this kid as though he achieved some great victory by pulling a stunt in a forum where the majority of the audience were Christians. They act as though this was some victory for "free speech" and "religious expression" when it was nothing of the sort. Their silly pronouncements about the courage and bravery of the little twerp are simply ridiculous in their ignorance. They're the same kind of sh!twits who think that proselytizing makes them good Christians. They're the ones who make a big production of their giving and only do things for others when they think someone is watching.

      It's nothing but sanctimonious grandstanding. It's false. It reeks of self-importance and self-aggrandizement. It has NOTHING to do with faith and belief and even less to do with god.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • The More You Know

      Calm down.

      Some xtians claim he is awesome. But some atheists claim he is horrible.

      Truth: It is no big deal.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Cuz if there's anything Tom knows, it's what has to do with God.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Patel P

      I will say it again. That boy had no right at all to his religious speech/expression.
      That is the law. He has no free speech rights as a student making a school-sponsored valedictorian speech at all.

      Anyone who says differently is not only wrong, but rather ridiculously wrong. This is not rocket science.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • The real Tom

      As if DillDoe knows god. What a fraud you are. You think some little twerp in a cap and gown standing in the middle of a stage and tearing up his speech is proof that he was speaking from his heart and that he was doing what his god commanded.

      You probably cry at Budweiser commercials and think the Hallmark Hall of Fame productions are examples of fine drama.

      June 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hey! Bad mouth Budweiser and it gets ugly!

      June 10, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Jenny

      Budweiser is weak.

      June 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      but more people drink Budweiser than anything else so it must be the best

      June 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Kid is a liar. He lied to the representatives of the government, and he lied to his god. He broke the rules, and he scarred his conscience. I wonder if he's prayed to his god for forgiveness for both sins?

      June 10, 2013 at 5:23 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.