Comes a story out of out of Las Vegas Nevada not unlike the recent events I detailed earlier in Kentucky. In this particular case, rather than banning a prayer, the school administrators took restrictions a step further; they shut off the microphone of a valedictorian when it was perceived she might voice religious sentiments, or more specifically, credit her success with it's source; faith in Christ. From the report:
She knew her speech as valedictorian of Foothill High School would be cut short, but Brittany McComb was determined to tell her fellow graduates what was on her mind and in her heart.
But before she could get to the word in her speech that meant the most to her — Christ — her microphone went dead.
The decision to cut short McComb's commencement speech Thursday at The Orleans drew jeers from the nearly 400 graduates and their families that went on for several minutes.
However, Clark County School District officials and an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday that cutting McComb's mic was the right call. Graduation ceremonies are school-sponsored events, a stance supported by federal court rulings, and as such may include religious references but not proselytizing, they said.
They said McComb's speech amounted to proselytizing and that her commentary could have been perceived as school-sponsored.
Presumably had she given praise to the public school systems, a disciplined homework regime, or positive thinking, Foothill High School Valedictorian Brittany McComb would have been free to say whatever she pleased. Indeed, had she criticized the current government, the supposed 'intolerance' of more conservative thinkers, or any other presumed enemies of the American educational system, she certainly would have been applauded by those in charge.
The ACLU, long the protector of speech, no matter how vulgar or vile, seems wholly complicitous with the administration. Allen Lichtenstein, an ACLU lawyer, who finds school dress codes to be "Orwellian" finds the systematic review and editorial removal of references to Christ to be wholly inline with the administrator's duties.
I think this is a further demonstration of the restrictive nature of the secular state. By attempting to parse the sentiments of a young woman who by all measures was a an educational success in one of the largest districts in the US, the school in all respects acts as advocate of anti-religious ideologies. Far from being neutral, the school teaches it's captive audience that the only true freedom is a godless one.
Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. My own children attend a charter school here in Minnesota. It is a fairly unique school, originally begun by home-schoolers and sponsored by a local Christian college. Even though it is a 'public' school, because of our charter system it flies under the radar of many of the restrictive policies normally found in our nation's public schools.
Last year, for our graduation ceremony, an academically accomplished young woman was asked to speak. Her story was quite amazing by all accounts; she came from a significantly broken family, her mother dealing with drug addiction and a string of bad boyfriends, her father completely absent. I remember reluctantly dropping her off at her home one time; the sagging roof, the plastic over the windows. It just didn't seem the place one would leave a child.
And yet this girl thrived, nurtured by a church family and a school that encouraged rather than opposed her faith. And for the graduation ceremony, she requested that she be able to say a prayer rather than give a speech; a request that administrators, not bound by the 9th District Court, happily allowed. What preceded was the most beautiful prayer I think I have ever heard, one that brought tears to the eyes of the most skeptical; its power being primarily in the life of a young woman whose experience had obviously exceeded the expectations of her circumstance.
It is ironic, that in our age a relativism where truths are thought to be mere personal expressions, people are allowed to express in our schools anything they percieve to be true so long as they don't really believe that it actually is.