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High School Valedictorian Recites Lord’s Prayer Instead Of Pre-Approved Speech [Video]

Roy Costner IV recites Lord's prayer instead of valedictorian speech

A high school valedictorian did something edgy by today’s politically correct standards: He scrapped his prepared, officially approved speech at graduation and recited the Lord’s prayer instead.

The audience broke out in wild applause on Saturday as valedictorian Roy Costner IV of Liberty High School in South Carolina launched into the prayer after thanking his parents for leading him to God at a young age.

Apparently the ACLU and other groups previously complained about prayers at South Carolina open government meetings, and, as a result, the Pickens County School District did away with prayer at the graduation ceremonies. That is, until Roy Costner took the mic (see embed below) and registered what appears to be a protest against that decision by ripping up his prepared remarks at the podium.

Going with a moment of silence instead of prayer apparently was not a popular decision by the school district, which may explain the strong reaction to Costner’s impromptu change and the cheering that followed.

Valedictorian speeches need to be approved by school district staff. Costner is off the hook with the school district, however, because he is now officially on his way to college. According to a spokesman for the school system, “The bottom line is, we’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths. He’s a graduate now. There’s nothing we can do about it, even if we wanted to.”

Costner will start his freshman year at Clemson University in the fall where he plans to study computer science.

Watch high school valedictorian Roy Costner IV depart from his prepared remarks and recite the Lord’s prayer instead:

Do you think Roy’s Costner’s rendition of the Lord’s prayer rather than his approved speech was appropriate? Do you think that an atheist or member of another religion who might have been in attendance would find it offensive?

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119 Responses to “High School Valedictorian Recites Lord’s Prayer Instead Of Pre-Approved Speech [Video]”

  1. Nancy Ellis

    Suppose someone had said a Buddhist Chant or a Bahai Prayer? Would the audience have been as receptive. I am a Christian but I do not impose my beliefs on others.

  2. Anonymous

    OK. It is perfectly legal and fine if he wants to say a prayer. It is not particularly brave or meaningful. The point of the Supreme Court ruling was that the SCHOOL (state) cannot prescribe a prayer to be said, but there is nothing wrong with an individual doing so. That being sad; I find it annoying and sanctimonious. Also, the people who tout their religion like this usually end up getting caught in a restroom sting.

  3. Anonymous

    Enough with political correctness, and I commend him for doing what was in his heart. Some feelings are always hurt, no matter what is said in a large group. Correctness should include First Amendment rights-freedom of speech for all. If an atheist, or for that matter radical Muslim or any other group member spoke and did not shout fire or other obvious remarks which may cause a riot, they would have the same First Amendment rights. Time for Americans to start taking back so many basic rights that have been lost over the years. As for other articles recently on Yahoo which have talked about students denied diplomas for freedom of speech which was not vulgar or inciting racism or other evils, then return out rights to the individual.

  4. Nicholas Downs

    Your observation well said! I agree completly. Thankyou

  5. Patrick Frye

    The Supreme court ruling in 1963 (Abington School District v. Schempp) said that "the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment." So the Bible can be read in school.

    And since when should a student be censored for expressing a belief? Although, if there a penalty for bypassing the speech approval process then he should pay it. That's separate from the issue of whether or not he can say what he did. And whether the approval process would have shot down his plans.

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  7. Mark Losben

    I know I find it offensive! Now he's off to college and then the world where he will betray all the the god stuff he professes to believe in, just like all the other powerful hypocrites. He'll probably be a lawyer, a politician or a CEO, all scum of the earth.

  8. Dan Luis Obispo

    I do not support prayer in public schools; I want to make sure that students have their educational experience devoid of superstition. That being said, the valedictorian was chosen to speak because he exemplified academic excellence; if he wanted to rap a selection from Dr. Dre in the style of Groucho Marx…I support his right to do so. : ^)

  9. Angela Carroll Champagne

    It doesn't matter either way. And it really doesn't matter who was receptive or not. I don't believe he was imposing his beliefs. He earned that moment. We all don't agree with everything in a speech, it just happens that he was successful on his choice of words for that particular moment. So be it.

  10. Sarah Romero

    I hear you. Many believe their faith is personal and private. A scripturally expressed component of Christianity, however, is evangelization. I commend this man for his courage to live his faith outwardly, as we are all called to do.

  11. Lidia Vazquez

    He didn't impose them, he just did not hide them. I think this country takes freedom of speech into way more than it should be, that's why this article is even here. They say freedom of speech, but when someone or something says something we totally disagree with, we bash it. I don't feel like like indian people impose their religion for just walking around with something on their forehead

  12. Ray Thaw

    Just another power pout by a spoiled brat…move along, nothing to see here.

  13. Kathryn L Reeve

    Completely and utterly out of order. The speech should relate to a farewell and thank you to the school. He is representing his whole class who presumably have diverse belief systems, some will have no belief system. Totally disrespectful.

  14. Kathryn L Reeve

    Completely and utterly out of order. The speech should relate to a farewell and thank you to the school. He is representing his whole class who presumably have diverse belief systems, some will have no belief system. Totally disrespectful.

  15. Rebecca Craig

    As a person from another faith, no I wouldn't have been offended….I only get upset when other faiths push u and try to cram their beliefs down my throat….if all faiths are represented in the schools, I'd have no qproblem with prayer being allowed in school…and by all faiths I mean ALL faiths…

  16. Michael Johnson

    so, a CEO, lawyer or politician is automatically scum of the earth? what the flip do we even wake up in the morning for then, can we not all strive to be something, even if that something is a drain on society, you forget we all have a choice in life, you can go in any direction that you want. I guess by your scum of the earth comment that we should all just be happy fat and lazy and depend on the government for direction in life, these type of people are the scum of the earth.

  17. Kyle Grove

    If someone not Christian did this, Christians would flip out. I can only imagine how awkward and terrible I would have felt sitting there. Probably would have stood while everyone else bowed their heads.

  18. Michael Johnson

    the educational experience of barely knowing how to read and write and know the basic of arithmetic; sounds like your goal has worked, after billions upon billions of money thrown at the public uneducation system, just throw more money at it, it will surely make kids smarter, is that what you are saying? as a top commenter and having Cuesta College after your name, one would think you have a little rational thinking, but rational thinking is exactly the opposite of what is being taught in schools, i know i have one graduation from college in 2 weeks, that he paid for by himself, working a part time job and 4 others in the public uneducation system, luckily they are all smarter than most college graduates.
    you do not support prayer in school, that is fine and dandy, but you seriously can't spread the false hope that kids are actually being taught in the public education system.

  19. Michael Johnson

    the educational experience of barely knowing how to read and write and know the basic of arithmetic; sounds like your goal has worked, after billions upon billions of money thrown at the public uneducation system, just throw more money at it, it will surely make kids smarter, is that what you are saying? as a top commenter and having Cuesta College after your name, one would think you have a little rational thinking, but rational thinking is exactly the opposite of what is being taught in schools, i know i have one graduation from college in 2 weeks, that he paid for by himself, working a part time job and 4 others in the public uneducation system, luckily they are all smarter than most college graduates.
    you do not support prayer in school, that is fine and dandy, but you seriously can't spread the false hope that kids are actually being taught in the public education system.

  20. Tara Peckio

    So what if they do? It's about time we respect each others differences and allow them to flourish then try to stamp it out!

  21. Michael Johnson

    tell me what was truly disrespectful about it? or are you mad that a rock hasn't yet evolved into a supreme being with the proper combination of Amino Acids.

  22. Richard Nicoletti

    Then you're not a Christian in the true sense of the word. Christ said, "Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations." All Christians, according to Jesus, are missionaries.

  23. Heather Soltesz

    Congratulations to him! It was his Moment and he spoke as he saw fit forget Political Correctness.. People need to stop using PC as a way to change everything PC is a joke!!

  24. Richard Nicoletti

    Disrespectful? I think not. Following the rule of law of the First Amendment and taking advantage of it in the face of those who would stop him. That's the sign of a leader.

  25. Lucinda Hester

    People don't have to like what anyone says about anything- religious, political or whatever…. but they should not be made to Not speak.. Amen to this boy- a leader indeed!!!

  26. William Ingramm

    Michael Johnson I'm actually more upset that people like you, in this day and age, still have such an infantile understanding of science.

  27. Marta Rodriguez Perez

    If an atheist can impose his/her beliefs on us, why can't we answer with a prayer. And to Ray Thaw – there IS something to see here: A very brave young man who refuses to kowtow to others Way to go, Roy!

  28. William Ingramm

    Richard Nicoletti It's funny how something as innocuous as reciting the lords prayer which millions of people do every day in this country can be seen as a sign of leadership. Getting up in front of these people and announcing that you're gay (or even an atheist..gasp!) would be a far bigger show of courage.

  29. Kathryn L Reeve

    Disrespectful to the traditions of the school, what else. Not mad, disappointed in a student who likely has great intellect, but is not using his skills wisely.

  30. Kay Richard Neal

    OMG all this over the Lords Prayer I think it is the perfect thing to say half of people don't even know the words to it, I guess as an older person I respect him for what he had the gusts to say,, way to go!!!

  31. Tressa Keller

    Freedom of Speech and Religion, good for him!

  32. Tammie Walker Rearick

    @ Barbara Morgan Elliot, if they earned the honor of Valedictorian, then they would have that right. He earned the right to say whatever he wanted to say because he worked hard to get the #1 place in his graduating class!!

  33. Tammie Walker Rearick

    @ Rebecca Craig, thank you for your comment!!! If we want people to respect their religion, I think that they also must respect other peoples' religion. I am a Christian, but I respect others to believe what they want. I don't push my religion on anyone, but if someone asks me about it, I am glad to share.

  34. Norma McGee

    GOOD FOR YOU! I agree with you and God bless this young man for having the courage to do what he did!

  35. William Chamberlin

    @ Mark Losben. How do you become a top commenter, through complete and utter useless comments? Is a lawyer who defends victims, scum of the Earth?
    Is the CEO of a company, who when the building( the company is housed in) burns to the ground. Pays all his employees Wages and holiday bonuses for two years while things are rebuilt. IS HE SCUM OF THE EARTH!!
    NO YOU SIR ARE!!!

  36. Donna DeMuro

    Ray, get over IT and most importantly, GET OVER YOURSELF!

  37. Donna DeMuro

    I commend him for what he did. The US government, in its effort to be "PC" has gone way overboard pleasing all the blacks, hispanics, muslims, atheists…has forgotten what this country was founded on. They ALL need to get over IT and OVER THEMSELVES!

  38. William Chamberlin

    If everyone is pissed off or unhappy with prayer, religion in school. The one thing it helped in teaching was morals, One thing almost every religion teaches. How to treat others with respect.
    Maybe they could at least replace it with Morals101.

  39. Shannon S Abernathy

    Everyone is entitled to their religious beliefs. I should not be subjected to others nor they mine. Our ancestors fled England so as to not be part of the Church of England. Religion of any kind has no place in our government and no one should be subjected to a prayer that isn't part of their belief system.

  40. Joseph McGrath

    I'm a Christian and I find Kyle Grove awkward and offensive

  41. Joseph McGrath

    Yes Rebecca Craig – I agree ! – with one exception anything demonic

  42. Frances Louise Wagner

    Here is the thing! THE ONLY PRAYER BANNED IS THAT OF CHRISTIANS! They bend over backwards to acomodate Muslims especially! This attack of the godless left is only at Christianity:

    Obama has been more brutual to people of FAITH (that is Christians) – He coddles Muslims (want to see how much watch this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpPgmavqKMA
    BUT MUCH MORE IS GOING ON HERE!
    Obama, his regime, his minions and sycophants BAD as they are – once the whole nest of poisonous vipers is cleaned out – THE PROBLEM – THE DISEASE remains that allowed America to go from electing Reagan in a landslide in 80's to Obama TWICE!
    KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
    "My People Are Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge" Hosea 4:6
    AGENDA: GRINDING AMERICA DOWN on line FREE http://vimeo.com/63749370

    Produced by Conservative former Idaho Legislator Curtis Bowers
    100+ year HISTORY of relentless, on-going dedicated, domestic enemy within to destroy the greatest country on earth.
    This is a masterful; an amazing documentary connects ALL the dots – explanation of what is happening in America today, how and why.
    He has done incredible research and backs it all up.
    NO CONSPIRACIES. JUST FACTS: MILLIONS need to see this – ESPECIALLY PARENTS, as your CHILDREN are FIRST target!
    If you have not PERSONALLY watched AGENDA GRINDING AMERICA DOWN you need to and SHARE with everyone in your sphere of influence!

  43. Susie Grieve Mullins

    Good for him !!! People are too sensitive about EVERYTHING these days !!!

  44. Madasa Hatter

    It's sad that not a single of your commenters actually addressed your question. Of course they'd be all up in arms had a Buddhist prayer or some atheist quote about the beauty of the universe been read. But they all think it's perfectly right because they could care less what somebody who isn't some sad copy of themselves might think.

  45. Madasa Hatter

    You're completely right. And you wouldn't have this wide range of morons who think it's "ok because it's the right God who was prayed to and not that *other* God over there"…

  46. Madasa Hatter

    Your Bible isn't the source of morality, otherwise we'd all still be keeping slaves. Oh and stoning adulterers, men who sleep with women who are having their periods, non-believers, men who shave, people with tattoos and the list goes on and on.

  47. Mark Losben

    Yeah, I f he had gotten up there and said the truth (i.e. THERE IS NO GOD) I bet you would have heard only BOOs from the brainless lemming masses. Funny, folks only have the freedom of speech if you agree with what they're saying.
    A nation of hypocrites.

  48. Richard Stephens

    Now that is someone who should be in office. LOVE IT!!!!!!!

  49. Jeanie Thiel

    Just to be clear, my like is for your comment not that he took did this. "Winning" doesn't give him the right to bring religion into a school activity, and it doesn't take "courage" to recite Christian prayer in America.

  50. Robert Ray

    When did an atheist ever impose their belief on you?
    Asking for a neutral position is not imposing a belief system on anyone.
    Had I been in this audience I would have been very offended by his remarks. He is speaking to a captive audience in a school sponsored event. Clearly he is entitled to his free speech but I am also entitled to be offended by his words.

  51. Peter Albert Todd

    A Moment of Silence.

    thepoetryofpeteralberttodd.weebly.com

    By Peter A. Todd 08/07/2011

    A moment of Silence is the phrase we hear.
    Instead of being able to shout out in prayer or praise.
    a moment of Silence will it conquer our fears?
    This is the question from my thoughts I raise.
    How do we express the feeling in our hearts?
    Of the hurt of all the suffering and shame.
    Yet from our lips the words cannot part.
    Even the praise to God in Jesus name.
    A moment of Silence cannot heal the sick.
    Nor can it comfort a baby as it cries.
    Yet we proudly pledge allegiance to our flag.
    As overhead the American eagle flies.
    A moment of Silence cannot be heard.
    We need to shout loud and give Jesus all praise.
    For it is through him we have his promised words.
    That it is in confessing our sins we will be saved.

  52. Peter Albert Todd

    A Moment of Silence.

    thepoetryofpeteralberttodd.weebly.com

    By Peter A. Todd 08/07/2011

    A moment of Silence is the phrase we hear.
    Instead of being able to shout out in prayer or praise.
    a moment of Silence will it conquer our fears?
    This is the question from my thoughts I raise.
    How do we express the feeling in our hearts?
    Of the hurt of all the suffering and shame.
    Yet from our lips the words cannot part.
    Even the praise to God in Jesus name.
    A moment of Silence cannot heal the sick.
    Nor can it comfort a baby as it cries.
    Yet we proudly pledge allegiance to our flag.
    As overhead the American eagle flies.
    A moment of Silence cannot be heard.
    We need to shout loud and give Jesus all praise.
    For it is through him we have his promised words.
    That it is in confessing our sins we will be saved.

  53. Geraldine Noble-Cronin

    Thank you for sharing….so inspiring!

  54. Andy Henderson

    You just have to be bold and stand up for what you believe. A former pastor of mine was know to say: If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything. God is good all the time.

  55. Ray Kiker

    Love it, If free speech includes haters then it should include religious expression as well. I commend him!

  56. Kevin Casey

    I think folks are tired of the Atheist Repression of ALL religions… this guy could have been Muslim & cited the following prayer it's to them what the lords Prayer is to Christians:
    In the name of God, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
    All praise and thanks is for to God, [The] Creator, Owner, Sustainer of the Worlds.
    The Entirely Merciful, The Especially Merciful.
    Owner of the Day of Recompense.
    You alone do we worship and You alone we seek for help.
    Guide us to the Straight Path.
    The path of those whom Your blessings are upon, not of those who You have cursed nor of those who have gone astray.

  57. Kevin Casey

    in it's ruling the SCOTUS inadvertently made Atheism the State religion… As such the ruling is unconstitutional.

  58. Kevin Casey

    I wonder how many who cheered were of non Christian religions? As it was a PUBLIC school there was most likely Jews & Muslims cheering.

  59. Kevin Casey

    Really so in your PC free world only those like you have rights? Cite please where our founding fathers Created a Church of the United states. Oh and from the Muslim's Quran there is this :3:45 O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be CHRIST JESUS, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.

  60. Robert Reynolds

    Dan, thanks for the concern regarding the Seal's history. Sometime I will tell you the story of why the credit is not there. Robert

  61. Tom Shields

    Selfish, self-righteous, Christian theatrics. It's all they have. This student made it all about him and his religion, not about the journey he and his classmates are about to begin. If he were a Muslim and read from the Koran, those who cheered would gave booed him of the stage. Religious freedom my ass. Bunch of ignorant hypocrites and bigots.

  62. Michael McClenny

    I think he might just have a multimillion dollar career in teleavagilism. Sign that kid up!

  63. Thomas Blickley

    If it makes you feel better, everything at my school seems to have some underlying piece of religion in it. The song today for promotion is in my opinion out of place in public school, but no one else seems (save the other northerners) uncomfortable with it. It's about gods love.

  64. Joseph McGrath

    Wrong….. As a child of the most high GOD – I say so !

  65. Tom Shields

    Yes, Tom. Those who clamor for "religious freedom" in schools almost exclusively want freedom for their Christian beliefs only. All other faiths need not apply. Either be open and accepting of ALL religious prayer and invocation in school, or STFU.

  66. Tom Shields

    Lidia Vazquez, He DID impose it on them. He exploited the opportunity to subject a captive audience to perhaps the most sacred and important prayer in the Christian faith. When you PRAY like that, you are invoking the power of your god, whether real or imagined, on behalf of all those present, regardless of their own faith, or lack thereof. Your Indian analogy is way off. It's not like he was walking down the street with a cross hanging from a necklace. If that Indian stopped you on the street, and made you listen while he read from the Vedas, do you think THAT would be imposing his beliefs? Think about it.

  67. Bill Johnston

    Looking at your recent past comments (scum of the Earth, rude old bastard), I will assume you were truant the days your Sunday school taught respect instead of name calling. You are so typical of your Christian brethren. Yeah, morals, like the ones taught by the pedophile clergy, or the ones who spend million$ on sanctimonious buildings instead of actually helping the downtrodden as Jesus supposedly preached. You're so preoccupied with saving your eternal soul that you neglect the human needs of the present. Give me a break you hypocrite.

  68. Tom Shields

    Michael Johnson, we're still waiting for your Magical Sky Fairy to make an appearance. You clearly don't have the slightest clue about evolution or how life originated on this planet. Hint, it wasn't some guy made out of dirt who had a wife made from his rib. Because, yeah, THAT is very scientific.

  69. Tom Shields

    Tell me HONESTLY, what would your response have been if he seized the opportunity to force a captive audience to listen to him read from the Qur'an or some other holy book besides the Bible? Would you be praising his courage? Would you extol his religious convictions? Hell no. Hypocrites, all of you.

  70. Tom Shields

    You're an idiot, but you probably know that already. You don't even know the difference between "it's" and "its". Religion is fine, still tax-exempt and everything. It's about the state, through tax-payer funded schools, imposing one religion (Christianity) on all students, regardless of their own beliefs. Get a clue, Jesus Sheep.

  71. Tom Shields

    Where is YOUR empirical evidence for the existence of your Jesus Zombie/Space Genie? The Bible doesn't count any more than any other religious text that is embarrassingly filled with errors and contradictions. You really ARE an idiot.

  72. Tom Shields

    Kevin, Atheists make up about 2% of the U.S. population, Christians about 80%. How many atheist politicians can you name? Repression? Really? This isn't Stalinist Russia, moron.

  73. Jennifer White Hair

    If they are offended that is too bad. As a Christian,things are shoved in our face all the time and we are not supposed to complain. Well done young man! The God we serve was blessed and recognized. Blessings will come from The Lord!

  74. Joe Benton

    Arrogance bred on self important delusions. That is all, move along.

  75. Tom Shields

    Marta, he was hardly brave. Just another brainwashed sheep wanting to stand out among the rest of the herd. And it probably emboldened him to know that 95% of the audience was no doubt Christian and would lap up his prayer with mindless enthusiasm.

  76. Richard White

    Did not Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who this child supposedly believes in, say "AND WHEN YOU PRAY, DO NOT BE LIKE THE HYPOCRITES, FOR THEY LOVE TO PRAY STANDING IN THE SYNAGOGUES AND ON THE STREET CORNERS TO BE SEEN BY OTHERS. TRUELY I TELL YOU, THEY HAVE RECEIVED THEIR REWARD IN FULL. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Book of Matthew, Chapter 6). This chilld is clearly NOT a follower of Jesus Christ – probably a brain-washed follower of some pretend-"Christian" televangelist.

  77. Eric Hilton

    Many American Christians have extremely antiquated religious attitudes. They call their god "Lord" and talk about "serving" him.

  78. Dennis Westler

    Sarah Romero "evangilization" (which is not a word) is possibly one of the rudest and most arrogant things that Christians do. It is undeniably a slap in the face to those of other faiths. Essentially it says "My faith is correct, yours is crap, and you are hellbound." That is how people see it, and they are right.

    When you attempt to shove your chosen lifestyle down the throats of others you have to expect pushback. Especially when done in the condescending manner that Evangelicals do.

  79. Dennis Westler

    Mary Fowler What exactly is awesome about him showing excessive pride in his lack of understanding of science? This is why the United States now ranks among the third world countries in so many aspects of life, and is a laughing stock among the first word nations who used to look up to us. He is simply reveling in his own stupidity.

  80. Dennis Westler

    It is generally the Christians that do the shoving (in the constant attempt to legislate your dogma and taboos). And they get terribly bent out of shape when people point that out to them. Your idea of things being "shoved in your face" is having to acknowledge that there are lifestyles other than yours, and all are equal under the law.

  81. Dennis Westler

    Not everyone believes in Jesus, some of us believe in one, unitary, not-three personed God. . It is our right not to have others' dogmas shoved down our throat, as Christians are constantly wont to do.

    Here from Wikipedia is a paragraph on what constitutes an appropriate valedictorian address:
    The valedictory address, or valediction, is the closing or farewell statement delivered at a graduation ceremony. It is an oration at commencement exercises in U.S. and Canadian high schools, colleges, and universities delivered by one of the graduates. The mode of discourse generally is inspirational and persuasive. The various aims of this address are to inspire the graduates and to thank individuals responsible for their successes while reflecting on youthful frivolity and the accomplishments of the class. Above all, however, the primary aim of the valedictory address is to allow a representative of the graduating class to bid a final farewell to the students and to the school, as the graduates prepare to disperse and to begin the next phase of their lives.

    What this kid did is self-aggrandizing, divisive and not at all appropriate. Sure the self-righteous present cheered loudly, but others were doubtless left wondering what this had to do with a farewell to their high school years. And many years hence will reminisce: "whatever happened to that idiot who simply recited a prayer rather than doing anything creative or exciting".

  82. Dennis Westler

    I sincerely doubt it. As a Jew, I know from the experience of my youth that it would have just felt like one more experience of being marginalized and excluded. What Christians don't understand is how constantly and consistently they try to shove their religion down other people's throats, and how condescending they are about it.

    A valedictorian address is supposed to sum up the experience of the years of school and bid farewell to the school and the graduating class. This certainly had none of that! It was self serving, non-creative and inappropriate. Had it been part of his speech, or had he simply given credit to faith as one the things that guided him in his school years that would be a totally different story. But Christians seldom get that, it always has to be about outward demonstration of their (all too often) false piety. Like Norma McGee's expression of Christian charity.

  83. Dennis Westler

    Atheists don't have either mythology or dogma, they simply deny the existence of a supernatural being (which, lacking any empirical support, is myth; most just call it "faith" or "belief", because we like to reserve "myth" for beliefs we do not share), and eschew dogma. Words like mythology have meaning….learn them. And the expression of atheist philosophy is equally appropriate as the expression of Christian dogma.

  84. Dennis Westler

    There is no ban on prayer in school!!!! Never has been. the ban is against forced Christian prayer. A very different thing. So long as students do not disrupt classes or wittness to others they are free to pray as they wish. The issue is that Christians want FORCED CHRISTIAN PRAYER to which everyone would be a captive audience. That is neither ethical nor proper, and thankfully no longer legal.

  85. Dennis Westler

    Thank you Mr. Johnston! Morals are not exclusive to religion, and religion is not needed to teach them. The "golden rule" makes sense both in terms of living a fear free life, and in terms of modern understanding of human evolution. But to get back on topic; religion or not, the student this article is about did not adhere to what is traditionally considered to be a valedictory speech, but was little more than self serving.

  86. Dennis Westler

    There are many for whom it has no cultural relevance, there are many for whom it has no ideological relevance. Why should they know the words or even care about it? What he did required no guts. All it required was a lack of understanding of the valedictorian's role, and a lack of respect for non-Christians.

  87. Dennis Westler

    Yes in fact that is in the Gospels. but don't forget one of the major issues here is the purpose and traditional point of a valedictory address. And a secondary issue is that a large minority do not accept the notion that God had a son, or do not believe in a God of any sort. So all should keep their devotions to themselves, between them and God.

  88. Dennis Westler

    The valedictory address has a specific purpose and a traditional breadth of topics. He chose to ignore that, and instead bleat his own self-righteous horn. I don't see how that bears commendation, especially if there were non-Christians for whom his preformance was irrelevant, marring their day. And graduation day is about everybody, not just evangelicals!

  89. Dennis Westler

    If he had decided to say a prayer to the Christian "God of this earth", Satan (since that is what satan is after all, part of Christian dogma), why would that be any less relevant than his recitation of the Lord's Prayer? Neither would be an appropriate valedictory address.