Valedictorian Sues School for Religious Liberty

28 08 2007

Filed under: Church and State, First Amendment, Erica Corder, Humanism, Liberalism

Working on the road today, but came across this in an email alert. Yesterday, Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against the Monument, CO, school district on behalf of a high school valedictorian. Erica Corder was forced to apologize to the school for sharing her faith during her graduation speech.

During her 30-second message Erica spoke about her faith in Jesus Christ. Afterwards, she was escorted to see the assistant principal, who said she would not receive her diploma because of the speech she had given. Principal Brewer later indicated that her comments were “immature.” He said that she could only receive her diploma if she apologized to the school community. Erica prepared a statement saying the message was her own and was not endorsed by the principal. Brewer insisted that she include the words: “I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did.” Erica complied because she feared the school would withhold her diploma. She was also afraid that the school would put disciplinary notes in her file and would generate negative publicity, which could prevent her from becoming a school teacher. Principal Brewer sent out Erica’s message in an e-mail to the entire high school community. Soon after, Erica received her diploma.

This school has definitely taken censorship of Christianity to new heights by threatening to not only withhold Corder’s diploma, but potentially sabotage her chances of becoming a teacher. We never hear of Muslim students being stripped of their diplomas for mentioning Allah in their graduation speeches. Why? Because it’s obvious that the message is their own and not endorsed by any school. But when it’s a Christian, humanist school officials feel an overwhelming, but unconscionable craving to intimidate, harass, subdue, or dematerialize Christians, or some combination, so long as Christianity is suppressed.

Liberty Counsel sent a letter on behalf of Erica to the Lewis Palmer School District Board of Education, explaining that her First Amendment rights had been violated, and requested that the district apologize for the e-mail that Erica was forced to write and institute a written policy to ensure that no future constitutional violations occur. The school board has thus far taken no remedial steps. Meanwhile, Erica continues to be the subject of public criticism from school officials.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Valedictorians have the right to express their religious viewpoints while at the graduation podium. School officials have no right to threaten young graduates that their diplomas will be withheld. The school district’s action in forcing Erica Corder to write an e-mail apologizing to the community for exercising her right to free speech is shocking.”

Liberty Counsel gears up every spring for religious liberties at graduations across the country. The Friend or Foe Graduation Prayer Campaign will educate, and if necessary, litigate to ensure that prayer and religious viewpoints are not censored from graduation. Liberty Counsel’s free legal memo outlines the current law. Liberty Counsel will defend any school that follows the law. When school officials censor prayer or religious speech, Liberty Counsel will file suit.

Typically, LC is not required to file suit. Most school boards respond after the initial letter. But, in cases such as Corder’s, a suit is not only necessary, but fully justified.

Right Truth trackbacked with: Valedictorian Sues School for Religious Liberty

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