Friday, May 22, 2009

Censorship and Graduations

I seems that every graduation season I hear stories of students chosen to speak, but who had their speeches censored by the school because they contain a religious statement. This year a case is coming up before a court concerning a Butte High School student (Montana). Renee Griffith was one of the valedictorians of her 2008 class. She was to write words about what she experienced and learned from her high school experience. Here are some of her words:

"I learned to persevere these past four years, even through failure or discouragement, when I had to stand for my convictions. I can say that my regrets are few and far between. I didn't let fear keep me from sharing Christ and His joy with those around me. I learned to impart hope, to encourage people to treat each day as a gift. I learned not to be known for my grades or for what I did during school, but for being committed to my faith and morals and being someone who lived with a purpose from God with a passionate love for Him."

I think that's a nice message, but the school officials disagreed. They thought the words were too Christian to be acceptable for a speech in front of the student body. She was supposed to express her thoughts, but the officials wanted to substitute their words for hers. I remember a comedian who said that he took a history test that asked his opinion of a particular battle. He got the answer wrong. He said, "I got MY OPINION wrong!"

Can anyone honestly think that the Founders intended to have this effect when they wrote, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."? Or did they forget the next words in the First Amendment: "...or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Or did they forget that the very same amendment protects free speech?

I would close with the question, "How can this happen?" but I think I have provided a few explanations of the "how" in many other posts in this blog.

By the way, alternate title for this information on the Rutherford Institute's website is, "What I Learned at Graduation: I Have No Rights."

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