Attorney: School Could Face Suit for Censoring Christian Valedictory Speech

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by Revmitchell, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell
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    http://www.christian.com/christiancom1.asp

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,Univers,Zurich BT,sans-serif][SIZE=+1]Attorney: School Could Face Suit for Censoring Christian Valedictory Speech[/SIZE][/FONT]

    By Jim Brown
    June 21, 2006

    (AgapePress) - A constitutional attorney is denouncing a Las Vegas school district for pulling the plug on a Christian student's commencement speech because it referred to her faith in Jesus Christ. At a recent graduation ceremony, Clark County School District (CCSD) officials cut the microphone on Foothill High School valedictorian Brittany McComb after she began reading a speech that contained Bible verses and references to God.
    The district officials claim McComb's speech amounted to religious proselytizing and could have been perceived as school-sponsored, thus making it a violation of the so-called separation of church and state. But Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Florida-based pro-family legal organization <A href="http://www.lc.org/" target=_blank>Liberty Counsel, says the high school valedictorian has every right to take the school district to court over the incident.
    [​IMG]
    Mat Staver
    "I think this is one of the most outrageous examples of censorship at graduation that I've seen," Staver contends. "For school officials to literally be standing by the switch at the mixing board and cut the microphone on a student, simply because that student mentions God or Jesus, is just unbelievable."
    With high school behind her, McComb plans to study journalism at Biola University, a Christian college in Southern California. But during her four years at Foothill, she says, "they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech." However, when the school's 2006 valedictorian tried to apply these lessons in her graduation address, the graduating senior with the 4.7 GPA ran into a problem.
    In vetting McComb's speech, school officials stripped it of biblical references and approved an edited version, cutting six mentions of God or Christ and omitting two biblical references. At the graduation exercises, however, the teen commencement speaker felt compelled to deviate from the edited version. "God's the biggest part of my life," she says. "Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my Lord and Savior."
    For the Foothill High School graduate, it all boiled down to her faith and her fundamental First Amendment right to free speech. For those reasons , she asserts, she chose in this instance to rebel against authority for the first time in her life. And, according to an Associated Press report, a sympathetic crowd of nearly 400 graduates and their families booed angrily at the school officials for several minutes after they cut McComb's microphone.
    An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada official who read the unedited version of the young woman's speech told the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper the school district did the right thing in cutting the valedictory address short. But Staver disagrees that the district's action was warranted and comments, "In my opinion it's reprehensible, and I also believe it's unconstitutional."
    The ACLU spokesperson quoted in the Review-Journal made the argument that graduation speakers like McComb are given a school-sponsored forum and therefore their speech is school-sponsored speech. But Liberty Counsel's chairman insists that student commencement speakers' personal remarks and expressions are free speech under the U.S. Constitution.
    "Clearly, the law protects students who are in the graduation podium, on the platform, because they are there for some neutral reason -- in this case, being the valedictorian," Staver says. "That student has the right to be able to give a message of his or her own choice regarding the viewpoint of the particular message that's being delivered."
    While the attorney regards the silencing of McComb's speech at the Foothill High School commencement as one of the most egregious acts of graduation censorship he has seen, he notes that it is one among many such incidents that happen to speakers of faith every year -- a problem that has to be stopped. "Schools should not, must not, and must stop censoring these kinds of religious viewpoints simply because they are Christian in nature," he says.
    Even now, Staver points out, his organization is involved in a similar case. Liberty Counsel is currently representing a Colorado high school graduate whose diploma was withheld after she shared her faith in Jesus Christ during a commencement speech.
    Jim Brown, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.
     
  2. Magnetic Poles

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    The student has a right to free speech. The school is not obligated to provide a public address system and a platform for proselytizing to a captive audience there for their child's graduation.
     
  3. Pastor Larry

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    A mention of JEsus or God in a valedictorian speech is hardly proselytizing by any legitimate definition. From what I saw of the speech, there was no proselytizing at all. The school is the one who allowed her to speak. They should not come back in and tell her what to say. If they wanted to control her speech, then just give the speech themselves.

    This is one of the more egregious violations of free speech around, and I typically take a more moderate view than most here.
     
  4. KenH

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    At my public high school graduation in 1974 in southeast Texas I offered one of the prayers. I had to write it down and turn it in ahead of time. The teacher that reviewed it came back to me and said that I could not end it with "In Jesus' name". So I had to end it with "In Your name" so as not to offend any Jews in the audience.
     
  5. Daisy

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    She's likely to win, and should, imho.
     
  6. Magnetic Poles

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    I saw the text of the speech, and it indeed did contain proselytizing. Plus the rules were that the speech had to be approved. It was approved with edits, which the student agreed to, then she defied the rules and gave the original anyway.
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    So what exactly was said that compelled others to convert to faith in Christ?
     
  8. JamieinNH

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    Let's look at this from another view.

    Suppose this girl was a member of Wicca, or a Satanist, or a member of the KKK or the Black Panthers?

    Would our view of "She should have been able to say what she wanted to." still apply?

    I seriously doubt it.


    Jamie
     
  9. carpro

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    I haven't seen the text, but based on the news story, it does not appear that what she said amounts to proselytizing.

    proselytizing
    1. To induce someone to convert to one's own religious faith.
    2. To induce someone to join one's own political party or to espouse one's doctrine.
    It sounds more like she was giving testimony of what God has done in her life, rather than trying to induce others to convert to her faith or doctrine.

    Can Christians now not even tell others in a public forum what wonders God has worked in their lives?
     
  10. The Galatian

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    So you'd be OK with the same person invoking Satan or Wicca?
     
  11. carpro

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    Tell others what wonders Satan had worked in their lives?

    I'd like to hear that one myself.:laugh:

    Sure! Why not? They'd be laughed out of the building.
     
  12. Revmitchell

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    It has been supported by the United States Supreme Court that student initiated speech containing religious content is constitutional as it does not lead one to believe that the government supports that view.

    Men want separation of church and state. I wonder what God wants?
     
  13. StefanM

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    I doubt he wants a democracy. I think he would prefer a theocracy. I prefer that as well, but I'm waiting for Jesus to be the King of it.
     
  14. Alcott

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    If Galatian, Daisy, and others here are included in that Kingdom, they must hope it contains an unlimited right to petition the government for redress of grievances, since they will probaby be trying to come to the throne continually demanding separation of church and state.
     
  15. lgpruitt

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    Will they start pulling the plug on athletes why he/she thanks God or their Lord Jesus Christ? I see that on TV quit a bit..... ??????
    :type:
     
  16. KenH

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    Fortunately, it already exists and Jesus is already the King of it. It's called the church. :praise:

    Col. 1:13-14 (ESV)
    He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
     
    #16 KenH, Jun 26, 2006
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2006

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