Graduates Will Not Be Silenced

26 05 2006

Graduates are not scared of the ACLU and its court-issued demands to not mention God in their graduation cermonies.

First, Russell County High School in Kentucky.

Via WKYT:

The senior class at a southern Kentucky high school gave their response Friday night to a federal judge’s order banning prayer at commencement.

About 200 seniors stood during the principal’s opening remarks and began reciting the Lord’s Prayer, prompting a standing ovation from a standing-room only crowd at the Russell County High School gymnasium.

The thunderous applause drowned out the last part of the prayer.

The revival like atmosphere continued when senior Megan Chapman said in her opening remarks that God had guided her since childhood. Chapman was interrupted repeatedly by the cheering crowd as she urged her classmates to trust in God as they go through life.

The challenge made the graduation even better because it unified the senior class, Chapman said.

“It made the whole senior class come together as one and I think that’s the best way to go out,” said Chapman, who plans to attend the University of the Cumberlands with her twin sister Megan.

The graduation took place about 12 hours after a federal judge blocked the inclusion of prayer as part of Russell County High School’s graduation ceremonies.

The student message: We will not be silenced.

The religious freedom organization Liberty Counsel, which is representing Miss Chapman, reported that thunderous applause drowned out the last part of the prayer.

“The revival-like atmosphere continued when senior Megan Chapman said in her opening remarks that God had guided her since childhood,” Liberty Counsel reported. “Megan was interrupted repeatedly during her speech by the cheering crowd as she urged her classmates to trust in God as they go through life.”

What an amazing scene. But it’s a scene that never should have transpired because the court order, according to Liberty Counsel, is “invalid, wrong, and limited.”

“First, the court had no authority to order Megan to refrain from prayer as she was never made a party to the case,” said Mathew Staver, the founder of the organization who is also the interim dean of the Liberty University School of Law. “Moreover, a temporary restraining order which restricts a person’s speech cannot be issued without first providing the affected person notice and an opportunity to be heard. Second, the court order runs contrary to the best legal precedent established in Adler v. Duval County School Board, a case successfully litigated by Liberty Counsel. Finally, the order was limited because it only addressed prayer. It did not, nor could it, prohibit Megan from thanking God or sharing her religious viewpoint during her speech.”

I never cease to be amazed at how activist judges and militant leftists are bent on forbidding even the most basic expressions of faith from the American landscape. In this case, students had voted, under no duress, to have Miss Chapman act as their chaplain. But because a couple of people express offense and bring in the ACLU, the entire class loses its right to have the graduation they wanted, solely because God and/or prayer was to be mentioned.

Mr. Staver noted, “It is a clear violation of the First Amendment to require a school to intentionally censor religious viewpoints of student speakers at graduation. Religious speech has just as much protection as secular speech. In fact, the First Amendment elevates religious expression to our first freedom.”

Second, Munford County High School in Tennessee.

Via The Commercial Appeal:

In the past, Munford High School graduations started with a student saying a prayer and ended with another student-led prayer.

But at Monday night’s commencement ceremony at Dr. Sid Witherington Stadium, due to intervention by the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the tradition was broken. A new twist was added with a group of prayer supporters picketing and a not-so-quiet moment of silence.

Munford principal Darry Marshall asked the 1,500-plus audience for that moment of silence so everyone could “reflect on what makes this day so special.”

Most of the audience stood, bowing their heads. Then, most of the 286 graduating seniors pulled out laminated bookmarks and folded up pieces of paper that they had been given earlier and began reciting “The Lord’s Prayer.” Students said beforehand that they knew that the moment of silence would be their chance to speak.

Once those in the audience realized what the students were doing, they broke into wild cheering as the silence in the football stadium was broken by the verses of the prayer.

“Please be seated,” Marshall told the crowd. “We appreciate the community’s support.”

“I think it’s awesome. They should have the right to do that. I can’t see how that can offend anybody,” said Tom Page, whose son was performing in the high school band.

Ditto my comments from Russell County. And Bravo to these students.

Others celebrating with these students: Stop The ACLU

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