High School Valedictorian, Roy Costner IV, Recites Prayer after Ripping Pre-Approved Speech

Roy Costner IVIt’s not every day a high school valedictorian speech becomes national news.  That’s the case for the valedictorian of Liberty High School in South Carolina.  Roy Costner IV created controversy after he ripped his pre-approved speech only to then recite the Lord’s Prayer, word for word.  Costner did so in protest because the school district removed prayer at graduation ceremonies.

Here’s a clip of his speech:

You might be surprised to read, but I don’t think it was appropriate of him to recite the prayer.  Liberty High School is a public school.  Therefore, you have to be respectful of other students with differing religions or those who are atheists.  This would have been perfectly appropriate at a religious institution.

There are many supporters of his actions.  They applaud him for expressing his 1st Amendment Rights.  However, I wonder if any of those same people would have a problem if say he was Muslim and he began his speech with a prayer from the Qur’an.  I think there would be even more controversy over this had he been.

I don’t like to always be politically correct, but in this case I don’t think he should have recited the prayer.

What do you think?

Email: realtalkdebate2012@gmail.com

Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate


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About adrakontaidis

A conservative who doesn't pander to the GOP.

11 responses to “High School Valedictorian, Roy Costner IV, Recites Prayer after Ripping Pre-Approved Speech”

  1. mariampera says :

    I think you’re right on with your assessment in that if a Muslim student had gotten up there and started praying, people would think he was a suicide bomber or something. I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s true.

    I honestly don’t have a problem with prayer in schools. I wish we taught it more so that there’d be more dialogue and understanding of each other’s religions, but in the absence of that sort of atmosphere, while I think it’s fine to pray privately (and God still hears you), I think actions like these just incite the kind of angry backlash that makes people think all Christians are close-minded and pushy. We’re really nice people!

  2. gardenaki says :

    I agree. It was not appropriate to recite a prayer at graduation. I went to a Catholic university and we did not recite a prayer at our graduation.

  3. JF Owen says :

    Miriam made a key point. Atheists get blamed whenever the subject of excluding religious activities at public events is discussed. But, people who disagree with those exclusions tend to forget that a significant portion of the population isn’t Christian and are uncomfortable sitting through Christian prayers and other religious activities. That includes not only atheists, but also members of hundreds of other religions. Each of those members has the same rights as Christians under our constitution.

    People, especially politicians, like to refer to the United States as a Christian nation. While we have a large Christian population, we do not have a state religion. The First Amendment, as championed by Thomas Jefferson, prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” That was a powerful statement at the time and remains so today. Unfortunately folks tend to remember the second part but forget the first. They also forget the reality that one man’s freedoms end when they infringe on the freedoms of another.

    While I’m sure that many people will congratulate this young man for standing up for his principles and defending his constitutional right to free speech, they forget that he flaunted the First Amendment rights of other students and people in the audience. Shame on him and shame on the people who tell him that he did the right thing.

  4. Kamil Zawadzki says :

    I agree with you.

    I dislike the notion of pre-approved valedictorian speeches, though I do see why they are necessary sometimes. And I do think sometimes it’s more refreshing if the speaker goes more off-script because it isn’t as stilted. But that also depends on the content.

    This was neither an appropriate forum to make a political statement, nor was it appropriate for him to pray because of the very possibility that there might be non-Christians in the crowd whom, even if not offended, might not appreciate the meaning of words taken from religions they don’t believe in. Furthermore, he failed to consider whether or not there were those among his own classmates who did not agree with him, and he decided to take their graduation (this was THEIR graduation, too, not just his own public appearance) and use it to preach – no pun intended – his own politics and completely tear apart the constitutional line between church and state.

    I don’t mind prayer on the face of it – freedom of worship (or not worship) is a wonderful thing. As is the separation of church and state.
    We don’t have prayers in public schools FOR GOOD REASON. We don’t have a state religion FOR GOOD REASON. Because doing so would automatically imply that anyone who DOES NOT subscribe to that faith or religious order is somehow less-than, less American.
    For proven examples of this, look no further than the Islamic Republic of Iran, where members of the Baha’i faith, for instance, have long been discriminated against by the state. Or Israel, which constitutes itself as “a Jewish and democratic state,” and earns no high equality marks in its treatment of its large non-Jewish Arab minorities and was just recently in the news for its deportation of African migrants in a bid to preserve the Jewish demographic character of the nation.
    These are just two examples of countries the U.S. is constantly engaged with amicably or tersely, where religion is a factor in public life and it brings little more than demerits on democratic freedom rankings, not to mention dealings within and amongst segments of their own societies.

    If you want to pray every morning in class before the bell rings, there are religious-affiliated educational facilities you can get your schooling in. In fact, that is an option more so for Christian or Jewish denominations in this country than for, say, Muslims.

    The other point, of course, as mentioned in comments, is whether or not the people supporting this kid now would be singing the same tune if an Muslim-American was valedictorian, tore up his pre-approved speech and began reciting a Muslim prayer. I’d bet anything that, no, they wouldn’t. They would rage against the encroachment of Islam on Christian America and push for new anti-Sharia laws.

  5. JF Owen says :

    I’m sorry Angelo, I didn’t mean to slight your comments. Miriam’s were just fresher in my mind while I wrote. Good and thought provoking post. Thanks!

  6. Kamil Zawadzki says :

    Meanwhile, no word if the same people who applauded THIS guy’s decision to pray instead of giving his valedictorian speech are or will give their support to A DIFFERENT kid who went a bit off-script in a DIFFERENT way and content:

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