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  1. #1 Atheists lose one 
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    June 18, 2013Atheists lose one

    Nate Kellum

    He didn't think he would give a speech. For quite some time, Roy Costner IV was second among his classmates, and didn't realize an extra class raised his grade point average enough for him to be the valedictorian of Liberty High School's Class of 2013. But when the honor was bestowed on him, and he was asked to give the traditional valedictory speech, Costner didn't want to waste this opportunity to acknowledge the most important influence in his life: his Christian faith.

    There was a problem. Liberty High School is a small public school in Pickens County, South Carolina, and the County's Board of Education had been targeted over the past year by activist atheists from Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for praying at their meetings. The (legally void) threats from FFRF had their intended effect, and the school board voted to suspend traditional prayer at their gatherings. For good measure, the board also decided to eliminate religious references at graduation.

    In accordance with this new rule, school officials instructed Costner to exclude any mention of faith from his planned speech. And to be assured of compliance, they even asked Costner to turn in his speech ahead of time for administrative review and approval.

    In their zeal to appease the atheist group, the school district grossly overstepped and infringed on Costner's First Amendment rights. Costner maintains a right to free speech that remains fully intact on school property, and even in graduation ceremonies. With speeches set aside to recognize and thank those who have contributed to the lives of the speakers, it is proper and natural that students would talk about their faith communities and deeply-held beliefs.

    It is in this context that Costner came to the podium to speak to the senior class, faculty, parents and others attending this year's graduation at Liberty High School. The first thing he did was tear up the paper containing the speech approved by the school system. Next, Costner spoke of how humble he was to have the honor, recognizing various classmates who seemingly contributed more to the school. When his remarks turned to those who had helped him along the way, he gave thanks to his church and his parents for leading him to Jesus Christ. Costner then directly acknowledged his Lord and Savior, praying the Lord's Prayer in the middle of his speech.

    Costner later clarified his moment of conviction in an interview with The Christian Post, "I want to emphasize that everyone should be free to say what they want. Just because I prayed to my God doesn't mean that someone else isn't allowed to pray to who they want or say what they believe. We should all have free speech."

    This brave stand has resonated with many Americans, as evidenced by 600,000 views on YouTube and coverage by major media outlets like CNN.
    http://<a href="http://www.youtube.c...r_embedded</a>

    Suppressing convictions of Americans because they happen to be religious in nature is unconstitutional and just plain wrong. The censorship betrays our roots as a nation. For the liberty to believe and express one's beliefs is a freedom to which countless men have fought and died. Perhaps Costner's courageous speech will help remind us of who we are.

    Nate Kellum is the Chief Counsel at the Center for Religious Expression, a non-profit organization based in Memphis.



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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Arroyo_Doble's Avatar
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  3. #3  
    LTC Member Odysseus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arroyo_Doble View Post
    I wish that I could say that I missed your snarky wit, but I'd be lying.
    --Odysseus
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    Before you can do things for people, you must be the kind of man who can get things done. But to get things done, you must love the doing, not the people!
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Arroyo_Doble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Odysseus View Post
    I wish that I could say that I missed your snarky wit, but I'd be lying.
    Ah. Short, concise and to the point. No filibuster. I like that.


    The Supreme Court has placed limits on the free speech rights of students at a school function; they are not absolute. The picture, which I grant is obscure, is what got the most recent case Morse v Frederick to the Supreme Court.

    "Free speech" isn't a magic incantation.

    For my part, since I am a bit of a rebel by nature and a Christian, I like what the guy did. Good for him. Civil disobedience is good for the soul.
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    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with valedictorians offering speeches with references to God. I do have a problem with the kid agreeing not to do so, then breaking his agreement and doing it anyway. Yes, the school shouldn't have had that stupid policy, but he did agree to go along with it.
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member Generation Why?'s Avatar
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    There is a time and place for everything.
    “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.”Ayn Rand

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  7. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by noonwitch View Post
    I don't have a problem with valedictorians offering speeches with references to God. I do have a problem with the kid agreeing not to do so, then breaking his agreement and doing it anyway. Yes, the school shouldn't have had that stupid policy, but he did agree to go along with it.
    The one thing you might consider is that the student might have had the silent backing of the beleaguered school administration. It seems like this Wisconsin-based group is doing its best to target little schools in little towns outside of Wisconsin--schools that can't afford the legal bills of a First Amendment suit--and intimidate them into a total suppression of faith based expression, even if such expression reflects the little community housing the school.

    The only defense in such a case is to change school policy, but the school didn't have to like it. What the school can do is, with a wink and a nod, make a student sign a piece of paper (to cover the school's butt in court), and allow the student to speak, knowing that he might speak in faith. The school can then not be sued, and the student, who HAS A RIGHT to his First Amendment exercise of speech, cannot be sued. Remember, that while the administration that can't push religion, the individual student has a right to express it.
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  8. #8  
    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    The one thing you might consider is that the student might have had the silent backing of the beleaguered school administration. It seems like this Wisconsin-based group is doing its best to target little schools in little towns outside of Wisconsin--schools that can't afford the legal bills of a First Amendment suit--and intimidate them into a total suppression of faith based expression, even if such expression reflects the little community housing the school.

    The only defense in such a case is to change school policy, but the school didn't have to like it. What the school can do is, with a wink and a nod, make a student sign a piece of paper (to cover the school's butt in court), and allow the student to speak, knowing that he might speak in faith. The school can then not be sued, and the student, who HAS A RIGHT to his First Amendment exercise of speech, cannot be sued. Remember, that while the administration that can't push religion, the individual student has a right to express it.

    That is probably true-no one challenges the Detroit Public Schools about such issues. Kids pray every day to make it home alive at the end of the day, and no one stops them.
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  9. #9  
    Power CUer NJCardFan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arroyo_Doble View Post

    "Free speech" isn't a magic incantation.
    No, butt munch, free speech is free speech. The 1st Amendment doesn't say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...unless that free speech contains the aforementioned religion". As are the other amendments, this isn't ambiguous. Free speech means free speech.
    The Obama Administration: Deny. Deflect. Blame.
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Arroyo_Doble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NJCardFan View Post
    No, butt munch, free speech is free speech. The 1st Amendment doesn't say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech...unless that free speech contains the aforementioned religion". As are the other amendments, this isn't ambiguous. Free speech means free speech.
    Okay.
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