In unapologetic defiance of a South Carolina school district's ban on prayer at graduation ceremonies, valedictorian Roy Costner IV shredded his approved speech and rocked the crowd at his high-school commencement – with a reading of the "Lord's Prayer."
The audience went wild June 1 when Costner surprised attendees of the Liberty High School graduation at Clemson's Littlejohn Colliseum with his tribute to the Almighty.
Immediately after he took the stage, Costner explained to the crowd that his original graduation speech had been pre-approved by the administration – but he didn't proceed as they had planned.
"Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today," he said. "I'm so glad that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age.
Costner continued, "And I think most of you will understand when I say, 'Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done: on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us for our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen."
The crowd roared with support.
According to the Christian News Network, Pickens County School District spokesman John Eby said the district has been under attack by anti-prayer activist groups.
"From the ACLU sending FOIA requests to every district in the state this year after the Chesterfield County case, then the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent us a complaint about religion at board meetings and some other issues as well," Eby said.
So the district banned prayer at all school functions, allowing only a moment of silence at graduations. But Costner refused to succumb to atheist threats and harassment.
According to the Washington Times, Eby said no disciplinary action will be taken against Costner.
"The bottom line is, we're not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths," he said. "He's a graduate now. There's nothing we can do about it, even if we wanted to."
As news spread of Costner's prayer, online reaction to the story was mostly positive. Comments included the following:
- Good job kid. Maybe there is hope.
- Someone get Obama on the phone, stat! we've got a graduate who didn't drink the Kool-Aid. He ought be sent to our re-edumacation camps for this transgression.
- Nice! Always question authority.
- Immediately, after the speech, local hospitals will filled with liberal bedwetters.
- God bless this young man.
- Quick, someone call Janet Napolitano at DHS. This man is a dangerous terrorist and needs to be stopped!
- What a great kid. I am Jewish, but I applaud his courage for sticking it right in the eye of the atheists who want everyone to follow their "religion."
- Well, we know who the IRS is coming after next.
- Good show, Brother! Carry on and continue to inspire us all! Thanks from the bottom of my heart!
- It is good to see our young people rebel against the progressive idiots in authority.
- This kid is going places. Imagine graduating from a public high school today and still thinking for himself. Amazing!!
- Kudos to the kid and his parents! I hope he gets a scholarship to Liberty University.
- I stand behind you young man. Immeasurable courage often lacking in folks twice your age.
- Good for him! Bravo! It's about time! Let this be a rallying call for all Christians to never allow anyone to silence our faith while other religions are protected and advanced.
- And that, my fellow Americans, is called courage, integrity, and commitment.
- OUTSTANDING! We need more youth (and adults) like this man. Simply say no to the whiners and follow our founders lead!