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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. chesterb

    Who cares. He earned his moment in the sun!

    June 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  2. Jeebusss

    So the moral of the story is......Christians can't help but try and whip out their hokey supes†itious religion and force it down your throat in public forums.

    June 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Actually

      JEEBuss, no the moral of the story is we all have first amendment rights and when any particular person earns the right to stand at the podium, that person has the right to openly state what they attribute success to and to whom they would like to honor

      June 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      Actually,
      That would be fine.
      The dude forced them to pray his "lord's prayer".
      Everyone should have walked out, and booed.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Rodboy

      Jee, before we get to name calling , lest I remind you that you have NO IDEA where matter came from and the laws of Physics. I am not hokie , no redneck, it just occurred to me in my college physics class the God was the best answer, since ALL the smart people did not know.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Water_On_Mars

      I had to listen to some guy read way too many pages out of the book "Tuesdays With Morrie" at a graduation recently.

      Oh well.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Actually

      @Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk.
      No he recited the lord's prayer which is protected by the first amendment. He did not force anyone to recite it. If they didn't want to recite it, theyr didn't have to. If they were offended by his opinions they were free to speak out loud, stay silent, or leave

      June 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      Rodboy,
      That's called "god of the gaps".
      You NEED an answer. So you cook up a god.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  3. Daniel

    I am all for free speech. I don't think their is a god, supreme being or anything. I don't think the lord told him what to say. It's what he believed. It hurts me none. As long as another person doesn't wake me up at 9:30 in the morning to give me a pamplet. That was not cool!

    June 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Daniel

      *there. I had to correct for the Internet police.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      Those GED classes will come in handy. Next week's lesson will be "your and you're". Grammar and spelling are your friends. Don't be afraid bro.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Athy

      Next, work on spelling "pamphlet" correctly.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • james

      unless you work at night, what are you doing asleep at 9:30 ? get up and make yourself useful. talk to people and maybe learn something. might save your life or give you something worthwhile to live for. that may have been an important message. or they may have been mormons. sorry, j

      June 6, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  4. ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

    good it wasn't a Friday’s ceremony in Pakistan, and delivering sermon in mosque, else he would have felt an urge to blow up.

    June 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Use your own ID, hindu atheist, ignorant nut head.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF URGE TO BLOW UP DURING GRADUATION CEREMONY

      something like this?

      June 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  5. alan

    This is wonderful. Thank you son for giving me a breathe of fresh air. These liberals have tried to destroy what little respect for GOD is left. I hope you have a good life and stay close to Christianity.

    June 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • I Am God

      Alan you are one dumb individual if you only believe Liberals are Atheists. There are man conservatives who are also Atheist, so I recommend you take your extremism some where else.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Which god are you talking about. There's so many I can't keep track.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      Wrong. He showed utter contempt to his captive audience and their rights to be free from his crappy religious nonsense. Security should have tackeed him, and shut off the microphone. If a Muslim student did this you would be sh1tting in your pants.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Atheism is self center ism ,denial of truth absolute GOD, foundation of hiduism, racism as a religion, must be declared out law in USA and around the globe.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Apatheist

      why do you christians insist that you are being persecuted despite all the evidence to the contrary?

      June 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Practice what you preach

      Damn alan,
      You flunked Christian 101. Love Thy Neighbor.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Apatheist

      rough estimates:

      USA 80% Christian
      USA 50% "Liberals"

      it seems to me that even if it were true (it's not) that all atheists are liberal, your implication that all liberals are atheists who are destroying respect for god is lacking... you have a false sense persecution that doesn't actually exist.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  6. mainiax

    fairly sure that the separation of church and state was to stop evangelizing or promoting one religion over all others rather than to remove all vestiges of religion from school. there is absolutely no doubt that religion is a major force in society, culture, history, and literature. some of the greatest scientific minds have also held very strong religious beliefs. to remove it completely from school to not allow expressions of faith – whatever the religion – is to deny one of the dominant shaping forces in the world – believer or no; christian, muslim, jew, hindu or whaterver – there is little that can be gained from removing faith and a discussion and understanding of it's impact from schools.

    June 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Dippy

      Its, not it's.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • mainiax

      good point – I always seem to get the apostrophe rule mixed up

      June 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      It's is a contraction if it is. The apostrophe takes the place if the i in is. Its is a possessive, meaning a part of or belonging to.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      if-of

      June 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      wrong. American educational standards are some of the worst in the world. In Northern Europe where athism abounds, the standards are far better. You get a F for that bull.
      Try, try, again.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Actually

      Mainiax,
      To clarify, the separation of church and state does not apply to individuals whom have first amendment rights protecting their speech and religion. Separation of church and state prohibits the U.S. congress from endorsing or establishing a religion

      June 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  7. derp

    watch infamous atheist "Thunderfoot" get torn apart by a very simple question.......

    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/83342097/

    June 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      Eric Hovind is one of the most retarded people on the planet. Him talking about logic is seriously hilarious. He's been torn to shreds so many times, it's funny he doesn't just shut up, and stop making a fool of himself.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • derp

      thunderfoot converts to christianity after continous defeat in debates:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP5A1Ad7U38

      June 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      SO what. AT least he doesn't have his whole life built on Creationism, and the bull that Hovelind spouts.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • derp

      Luke 15

      The Parable of the Lost Sheep

      15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

      3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Why is this news? It's his speech. You like it or you don't, you're free to disagree. People of all religious beliefs and views here in the United States need to grow thicker skin, especially in such a multicultural country. We have more important things to argue about than religion.

    June 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Filthy Hind I love to Mithrism lick and talk Islam bunk

      No. He abused his position in front of a captive audience. He should be sued, and stripped of his degree.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • chesterb

      exactly

      June 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • Athy

      Agree, but not with Andrew.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • From This Pattern

      The reason that these hedonistic morons can't grow a thicker skin, Andrew, is that their skin is made of the same material as the serpent's which is obviously what they are cut from and the one they follow.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  9. faith

    u r a stooopid idiot unless u can justify making this ridiculous charge, which is typical of nazi god hating fascists.

    one might b tempted to hope that someday these idiots may produce 1, just 1, non-idiot within the next 4,000 years. even Christians don't possess unlimited patience.

    Athy
    Maybe it took only 32 seconds, but he violated the separation of church and state. Is that concept a little too complex for you, Water?

    June 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Athy

      Can someone please translate this for us?

      June 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Athy: Don't you have the 'faith decoder ring'? 🙂

      June 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Athy

      No, how do I get one?

      June 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Maybe HS can tell us.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Apatheist

      @truth prevails

      i have "faith" in any decoding device, ring or otherwise, that is used appropriately... i'm not sure i understand the point of your question. codes and decoders are real things.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      But I don"t WANT a decoder ring! I'd hate to be able to think like them.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Apatheist

      Faith and Heaven Sent are card carring loons. Truth's question is a joke.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Apatheist

      @secular

      yeah, i started catching on after i posted... haha

      June 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  10. marty

    Suck it, you atheist dirtbags!

    June 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      suck what?

      June 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Athy

      Wow, marty. That was a real witty, clever comment. You must have put a lot of thought into it. Can we have more of your sophisticated wisdom?

      June 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • okfine

      What do you suppose your God thinks of a comment like that?

      June 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Apatheist

      haha... idiot

      June 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      I'm impressed by the xtian love dripping from your comment. How sweet!

      June 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  11. brian

    I am very glad we live in a country where we can say what we will, where we have the freedom to pray as we so desire, despite the requirements to have what was said approved – and such approval is not in line with the rights he has as an american. The thing to remember is that if he recited a nazi, atheist, islamic slogan or prayer, most of those supporting him would not be doing so. He should be supported by all of us for saying what he felt like saying, just like we should remember this right applies to all of us, and it also means he might have said something we do not approve of, in which case those congratulating him would be asking the school to punish him.

    Remember freedom of speech and religion, and separation of church and state are not thing which were designed by atheists, but instead ideas that came to us from puritans, amish, brethren, quakers who were persecuted ( christians even killed enmasse by other christians over when they got baptised ) by european countries which were all part of the catholic or lutheran churches.

    Christianity actually tends to be more Christian when it's a minority, when it's fighting for the meek, the orphans, the persecuted.

    In contrast whenever it's in complete control of society ( catholic church in the inquisition, the white south prior to the civil war, the christians in germany during world war II, the crusades ) is when it loses the sight of who founded it and that crazy sermon on the mount. But then that i think is the problem in the middle east too, muslims tend to be very good here in our country but when their values tend to lose sight of where they came from. Something to be said about the meek inheriting the earth.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • faith

      i want to congratulate commercial media, particularly t.v. and makers of big screen movies (videos). i, 4 1, applaud them 4 emphasizing modesty and non-secksualized, non-criminal, non-violent content. thankfully, producers and promoters of these types of electronic entertainment products never compromise their and our values for money. scenes of bloody gore, gape, secksual perversion, greed, mur der, ad ul ter y, evil in general, never appear for public consumption, which helps to protect the psychological and emotional well being of our youth and really, all Americans

      June 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • faith

      christians even killed enmasse by other christians over when they got baptised

      back that up lying sk um bag

      June 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • brian

      ok i cite wikipedia –

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

      Roman Catholics and Protestants alike persecuted the Anabaptists, resorting to torture and execution in attempts to curb the growth of the movement. The Protestants under Zwingli were the first to persecute the Anabaptists, with Felix Manz becoming the first martyr in 1527. On May 20, 1527, Roman Catholic authorities executed Michael Sattler. King Ferdinand declared drowning (called the third baptism) "the best antidote to Anabaptism". The Tudor regime, even the Protestant monarchs (Edward VI of England and Elizabeth I of England), persecuted Anabaptists as they were deemed too radical and therefore a danger to religious stability. The persecution of Anabaptists was condoned by ancient laws of Theodosius I and Justinian I that were passed against the Donatists, which decreed the death penalty for any who practiced rebaptism. Martyrs Mirror, by Thieleman J. van Braght, describes the persecution and execution of thousands of Anabaptists in various parts of Europe between 1525 and 1660. Continuing persecution in Europe was largely responsible for the mass emigrations to North America by Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites.

      June 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  12. nice going ace

    Jesus, who told his followers they had to respect existing laws of their nations ("render unto Caesar..." is one example) unless the law conflicted with higher laws. He would not have pulled this immature team spirit stunt to get attention. Innocent childish zeal but Jesus would only have spoken to those who came to hear him after he invited them. What a repulsive cult that shows no respect for others.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      No, son of blessed Mary condemned them and fought to remove them, study real history, before spewing your hindu atheism, ignorant self center ism.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • faith

      thank u 4 enlightening Christians about what your god likes 2 c in his followers. u r a peach

      June 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Actually

      Sorry i have to correct you. We have protected speech in our nation and his speech was not against the law as evidenced by the fact that there is no mention of such a law in the article. Nor does the school or the school district compare to Caesar./ And if it was against the rules. The school district has clarified they respect his first amendment rights

      June 6, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  13. Fred Evil

    If the kid wants to, that's his right. But the school should neither foster the idea, nor deter it.
    Let him declare his ignorance if he wishes.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  14. STFU

    it would have been more sensational, had he announced he was a gay, it would have put him on top.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Always head in a gand, way of hindu gandus, gays filthy hind lovers by their hindu atheism, ignorant self center ism, nut ism.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      announcing you're gay is almost old news. Which is a good thing.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • STFU

      why the follower of bakra chod (male goat banger) mohammad got up so early in Pakistan today? I am just wondering. Saale Bhangi ki olad.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Only if that's his preferred position.

      June 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  15. Mark.VIVIVI

    He's not just a valedictorian, he's clearly an oracle; a prophet! He said he KNEW that's what god wanted him to do. Tell us, please, who's gonna win the next SuperBowl?

    June 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • belief if a team sport

      team jeeeeezus fer tha weeeeeeeeee-yunnnnnnnnnnnn. Yayyyyyyyyyy jeeeeeeeeeeezus. When yew view religion as a team sport, you soon follow the sage advice that all sports coaches teach: yew ain't cheatin; if yewwwwwwww don't git caught. That's why these cults breed sneak-weasels.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  16. I Am God

    What happened to Valedictorian? I want him to explain why Christianity is the one true religion and the Roman religion, Greek religion, and Egyptian religion are not, since these religions were around for centuries before any type of group was formed in believing in one so-called God.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      He/she's probably running around in circles right now.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Actually

      When you are valedictorian, you can pose that question to the crowd

      June 6, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      The Pharaoh Akhenaten attempted to inst.itute monotheism in Egypt. He worshiped the sun god Aten. Didn't work out so well for him. So the monotheism thing is actually older than the Judeo-christian thing.

      June 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  17. AngelaD

    I was also the valedictorian. But my school was in communist East Germany. If I would have recited the Lord's prayer I would have gone to jail. Maybe a little bit of perspective helps here. Free speech trumps the separation of Church/State.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Athy

      It was still in very poor taste.

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

      "Free speech trumps the separation of Church/State"

      No, it doesn't... Having said that, I don't have any issues with him adding his prayer in a graduation speach. I believe he is delusional, but, the fact is that as validictorian, he was asked to speak. I don't see this as state endorsed religion like it would be if a school official did the same.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • Actually

      Apatehist – This isn't a question of separation of chucrh and state so not an issue. This is protected spech

      June 6, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Actually

      Apatehist – This isn't a question of separation of chucrh and state so not an issue. This is protected speech

      June 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  18. Lulu

    Truly inspirational! Freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion. He should be able to stand up proudly and proclaim Jesus and God as Lord! Look at the state of our schools today. We've taken God out of the schools because we think we know better but the results clearly show that we were wrong.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • be honest

      yep,, show how delusional he is.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "Freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion. He should be able to stand up proudly and proclaim Jesus and God as Lord! Look at the state of our schools today. We've taken God out of the schools because we think we know better but the results clearly show that we were wrong."

      Freedom of and from religion.
      God was never in your schools. God is a man made concept created to control the gullible. Removing prayer from schools was done to give equal rights to those who don't share your belief. Children can still read their buybull or pray in silence but no publicly funded school can have a prayer led by tax-paid authority figures.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • golly

      Your kids, like mine, have always been free to pray in school (to god... which as Jesus taught was not meant to be a public spectacle). Why are you repeating something that is not true? What do we call saying something that is obviously not true?

      June 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • hi pock rissy

      RE: "Your kids, like mine, have always been free to pray in school (to god... which as Jesus taught was not meant to be a public spectacle). "

      Making a show of it praying AND lying about it... two offenses to jeeeeeezus with one stone that the cult-of-westboro is famous for... this cult stands for the opposite of what Jesus intended.

      June 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • Exactly So

      Exactly, Lulu! You've hit the nail right on the head, my friend! Without sound Christian principles a person has truly nothing but the dark side of life to look at and act upon. Without God You Are Nothing! With God you can deport yourself in a manner conducive to the way a decent human being should act and be. Therein lies the difference.

      June 7, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • chelle

      Look at the state of your schools? Why not look at the state of schools in other countries where religion is not present? Yet those countries have better academic results and fewer behavioral problems. I don't think the issue is the lack of religion in schools or the US for that matter. The US is a far more religious nation than most other industrialized countries.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Older and Wiser

    This kid is a sap. He squandered an opportunity to say something worthwhile (not that any graduation speeches are ever worthwhile) but chose to fall back on the nonsense that his backwoods family has been drilling into him since birth. He learned NOTHING in school. How many were in the graduating class? One?

    June 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      Every one has an opportunity and an opinion, such as an atheist, nut head, self centered, he had a right and what is your problem. hindu dictator.

      June 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Yun

      True, he should have spent his time being a nobody like yourself. You certainly weren't a valedictorian, what did you do with your opportunities?

      June 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  20. Morgan

    Imagine if he had rolled out a rug, knelt, and prayed facing Mecca. Where would the cheers have been then? He isn't being celebrated for practicing "free speech"; he's being toasted for evangelizing for Christianity. All this kid was say, "Separation of Church and State? Not here. I don't care about the dignity of others." Yes, a charming lesson.

    June 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • chelle

      Well put. There would have been boos heard loudly if he had been praying to Mohammed or Vishnu. He just happened to pick the "correct God" to pray to.

      June 7, 2013 at 12:21 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.