Last Stand in Clark County

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.


3 Responses to Last Stand in Clark County


    The Clark County School District is in violation of the law. They should be made aware of this story and church leaders should make their congregations aware of their children’s right to religious expression in public schools::

    Buffalo News, The (NY)

    April 9, 2007

    A teachable moment

    Syracuse fights an already-settled spat over religious expression in schools

    Edition: Central
    Section: Editorial Page
    Page: A6

    Index Terms:

    Estimated printed pages: 2

    Article Text:

    People whose job it is to explain increasingly complicated concepts to young children might, indeed, have a little difficulty getting the idea of individual free speech across to a third-grader. It shouldn’t have been so difficult for the third-grader to explain it to the school board.

    Yet then-little Michaela Bloodgood had to drag the Liverpool School District in suburban Syracuse through a two-year federal court battle in order to get it across to the grown-ups that individual religious expression in schools, as opposed to school-sponsored preaching, is clearly allowed.

    For the Liverpool schools to assume that the “Jesus made me stronger” religious musings of a third-grader, distributed to a few friends on the Nate Perry Elementary School playground, would be widely seen as an official school endorsement of an individual’s faith betrayed a stunning lack of, well, faith in their community’s ability to understand, and the district’s ability to explain, the clear law of the land.

    Wouldn’t that have been a teachable moment?

    A simple Google search by school district officials would have discovered many copies of generally accepted policies adopted by everyone from the U.S. Department of Education to the American Civil Liberties Union, from the Freedom Forum to major Christian, Islamic and Jewish religious groups. That would have been much less adversarial, and a lot cheaper, than the court battle that Michaela, now a home-schooled sixth-grader, just has won.

    These policies make it clear that, while the school administration and faculty are not to endorse or degrade any religious belief, neither are they to stand in the way of individual religious expression whenever it does not detract from class time or disrupt the educational environment. In Michaela’s case, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Mordue ruled that the school’s policy amounted to a violation of the girl’s constitutional rights.

    Students may write term papers about Moses as easily as they write them about Lincoln. They may gather for before- or after-school religious groups as well as for the chess club or to organize fundraisers. They may wear T-shirts that feature Jesus as easily as those that worship LeBron James.

    It is conceivable, as the district argued, that some young students might be made to feel uncomfortable upon exposure to an unfamiliar idea. But easing that discomfort, promoting the concept that even young minds do not have to think alike, is part of this, or any, school district’s job. If educators don’t feel up to it, they shouldn’t hide behind a warped interpretation of the law. They should find another line of work.


    Jesus was not fond of public prayer..see verses 5 & 6:

    Matthew 6
    Giving to the Needy
    1″Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
    2″So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
    3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
    4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    5″And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
    6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
    8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

  3. Amber Brooks says:

    Hi Jack,
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