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Prayer and the First Amendment

Bravo to Roy Costner IV!  Valedictorian of his class at Liberty High School in Liberty, South Carolina, he tore up his approved speech which did not mention God, and spoke about his Christian faith, reciting the Paternoster:

After speaking for a bit, the senior cut to the quick.

“Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young  adults that we are today,” Costner said in his speech. “I’m so thankful that  both my parents led me to the Lord at a young age. And I think most of you will  understand when I say…”

Costner then proceeded to recite a full-length version of the Lord’s Prayer,  the pivotal Christian prayer that is attributed to Jesus in the both the Gospel  of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.

The audience members began to cheer tentatively and then heartily once they  realized what Costner was saying. The applause eventually became so loud that it  drowned out Costner’s voice.

At the end of the prayer, after Costner says, “Amen,” the audience breaks  into another round of wild applause.

Go here to The Daily Caller to read the rest.  The absurdity of Federal judges acting as censors of student speeches at commencement stems from a 6-3 decision of the Supreme Court in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe (2000) in which the majority banned student led prayer at football games as an establishment of religion.

Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote a scathing dissent that began:

CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom JUSTICE SCALIA and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.

The Court distorts existing precedent to conclude that the school district’s student-message program is invalid on its face under the Establishment Clause. But even more disturbing than its holding is the tone of the Court’s opinion; it bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life. Neither the holding nor the tone of the opinion is faithful to the meaning of the Establishment Clause, when it is recalled that George Washington himself, at the request of the very Congress which passed the Bill of Rights, proclaimed a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” Presidential Proclamation, 1 Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, p. 64 (J. Richardson ed. 1897).

This decision is of course part and parcel of a long term project by those on the Left in this country to drive religion from the public square.  It is at war not only with the free exercise of religion provision of the First Amendment but also the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.  That courts should act as censors of student initiated speech at commencements turns the First Amendment inside out and amends the Constitution to state, in effect, that we have free exercise and free speech only so long as a majority of the Supreme Court approves of what we are saying.  This is deeply un-American, a betrayal of the Constitution and a manifest absurdity.  This decision deserves only contempt and active disobedience and I salute Mr. Costner for rendering it the obedience it warrants.

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

4 Comments

  1. …another courageous christian!!! Standing up for our core beleifs! To get a standing ovation proves that people are hungry for God , his word, and are tired of being suppressed with political correctness, and seeing faith in action by a peer, speaks louder than any validictorian speech!

  2. I’m sympathetic to free speech. And if it were a Muslim student who was speaking, he would have no less right to pray according to his religion. I suspect he wouldn;t do it for the applause however.

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