Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teen Stands Up to ACLU

The Pickens County School District in South Carolina had a longstanding tradition of saying prayers during its graduation ceremonies. However, after receiving some threats from the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the school district banned prayer rather than risk a lawsuit. That ban applied not only to administrators and teachers, but also to students. The valedictorian and salutatorian were required to submit their speeches in advance to be cleansed of all religious references.

This shows how these anti-religious pressure groups can intimidate small school districts and other institutions that don't have lots of money available to fight expensive lawsuits from the ACLU. In this South Carolina case, no one had ever taken offense about prayers at previous Pickens County graduations. The prayer ban was not a request from any student or parent in the school district, and it had little support from the local community. The school simply reacted to a threat from an outside organization that deserved no say in how a local school is run. Forbidding a prayer was a dramatic overreaction and an infringement on students’ rights. Students are not official representatives of the school, and the district had no business telling them they may not express religious views at graduation. Costner’s speech was the personal expression of a private citizen, and he had every right to include a prayer.

But valedictorian Roy Costner decided he was not going to let the ACLU take away his right to address his class. When he stepped up to the podium at the graduation ceremony, Roy Costner ripped up his script, thanked his parents for his Christian upbringing, and then recited the Lord’s Prayer. This teen was willing to stand up against the powers that be, and he provided a good example for other Americans to follow.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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