LHS Valedictorian Takes A Bold Stand For Prayer

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The school district of Pickens County has been under attack over prayer in the past few months, for years a student or community member has prayed before the the Pickens County School Board meetings. However, recently they have been contacted and lawsuits have been threatened by a group against prayer, “Freedom From Religion,” if they did not stop. The school district voted not to have prayer in school or at events, including graduation after consulting with their Attorneys.

At the 2013 LHS Graduation, on June 1, the prayer was replaced with a moment of silence.

In reaction to the change LHS Class of 2013 Valedictorian Roy Costner added The Lord’s prayer into his speech after ripping up his old speech on stage saying, “Mrs. Gwinn had somehow approved his speech (the one ripped), so I will have to use a different one!” When he arrived to The Lord’s prayer into his speech, this received a huge cheer/excitement and emotion from the crowd.

“It was such an amazing moment! Looking out and seeing all of the family, friends, and mentors in the coliseum clapping and some even standing.”

“We serve an amazing God and I can promise everyone there was absolutely nothing special I did! God chose to show out and without his courage I don’t think I could have made it through His prayer from the overwhelming reaction the crowd gave bringing tears to my eyes.”

-Roy

 

Check Out Roy’s Chilling Video Of His Speech Below

 

Video credits: Brian Dismukes of Liberty, SC

121 Comments

  1. Vonnie Wilford

    June 4, 2013 at 6:21 am

    This young man is to be commended for standing up for what he believes! His parents must be so proud and thankful! God bless him and his family.

    • Carra

      June 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      Surely this young man will be blessed throughout his life..

    • 4Justice

      June 7, 2013 at 1:39 am

      I agree 1000%!!!

  2. Anut Bein

    June 4, 2013 at 10:45 am

    It was so brave for him to stand up in front of a community that is 95% Christian, and give a Christian speech; ensuring that the 5% of people who weren’t Christian felt ostracized. SO BRAVE!

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Anut Bein, having a problem being in the 5%? Figure out why there is such a disproportion, and use that to convince the 95% how they’re wrong and you’re correct….otherwise shut up and deal with it.

      • joe

        June 7, 2013 at 1:04 am

        calm down aunt bee, you can still hate God and everything else under the sun, we’re born of free will

        ps: don’t atheists presume to be god with none of the answers, e.g., what came first the atheist or the egg?

        • ykalon

          June 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm

          joe, if you don’t even believe God exist how can you hate him? Do you hate the easter bunny? Atheists don’t believe in God meaning to us he does not exist at all. We don’t waste time hating a supernatural being we don’t consider real. And atheists don’t presume anything. Btw the egg most likely came before the egg since mutations happens at conception. That said the one that laid the egg was probably almost a chicken but not quite.

          All children are born agnostic, it is the upbringing that influences what religion the children adhers to not genes.

          • Aarif

            June 8, 2013 at 1:36 am

            “We don’t waste time hating a supernatural being we don’t consider real.”

            So why’d you bother to type this?

          • Aarif

            June 8, 2013 at 1:46 am

            ” Btw the egg most likely came before the egg since mutations happens at conception. That said the one that laid the egg was probably almost a chicken but not quite.”

            Did you proofread this before you clicked your mouse? That is probably the most stupid thing posted on this thread to date; and buddy, that is saying something.
            What the hell is a “chicken but not quite”? Please tell me you don’t operate a motor vehicle on public highways where you are missing me head-on laterally by a few feet because of a stripe of paint on the road……..?

          • Wayne W Mixon

            June 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

            AMEN! Thank you for that!

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      This guy Roy must be a real jerk…first he “ensuring that the 5% of people who weren’t Christian felt ostracized”, and then, THEN, he sticks it to every one of his classmates by being the one, and only, valedictorian…..so selfish, so intolerant, so hateful.

      WTG Roy.

      • joe

        June 7, 2013 at 1:11 am

        aarif, you’re not alone, did you see all the closed minded group think low information tools sitting behind him…not a one broke ranks to give him (or God) a hand, obedient servants of their union masters.

      • joe

        June 7, 2013 at 1:23 am

        sorry aarif, i was replying to the wrong guy, meant to reply to aunt bee, i mean chicken little

    • 4Justice

      June 7, 2013 at 1:37 am

      Anut Bein: How do you know that the audience was 95% Christians? Were you there by any chance? And even if it were, what is the problem? The bottom line is: this young man had the GUTS to defy what he believed was a violation of his FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION, thus, his CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT!!!I bet you would have probably been supportive if he had made a stand for the “gayola”, right? After all, lately anybody from the “gayola” who either comes out or makes a stand is considered a hero! They may even get a personal call from the President of the USA, isn’t it so?

      • Rick James

        June 7, 2013 at 10:57 am

        You obviously don’t know much of the story preceding this incident. The school district ended MANDATORY PRAYER that was held during graduation because it IS a violation of the constitution. Schools and officials/teachers/etc cannot lead or sponsor prayer. There never was any claim that a student is not allowed to pray. That’s totally fine. No one EVER said that he cannot go up there and pray.

        Get your stuff together.

        • Aarif

          June 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

          “The school district ended MANDATORY PRAYER that was held during graduation because it IS a violation of the constitution.”

          Please show, or referance me, to where in the constitution I can find where that IS a violation…I’m curious as to the wording.
          (Hint: It won’t be beside anything that says “seperation of church and state”, cuz that’s not in the Constitution EITHER.)

          “Get your stuff together.”

          • Dax

            June 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm

            “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

        • 4Justice

          June 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm

          Rick James: I got my stuff more together than you may think! Watch the video and you will hear this young man very clearly and in VERY GOOD ENGLISH saying: “and I think most of you will understand when I SAY ‘Our Father which art…’”. He said “WHEN I SAY” and not “WHEN I PRAY”!
          Now, you go and get YOUR STUFF together! Good day!

  3. TheExpatriate700

    June 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Wow! So respectful of other religions! No wonder South Carolina has such a sterling reputation as a haven of tolerance!

    • Amy

      June 4, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      You mean tolerance is only for “other” religions??? So Christians should be muzzled??

      • Dax

        June 7, 2013 at 11:27 pm

        No, they should be treated equally, and not given special privileges.

    • Jackie

      June 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm

      If you were the person at the podium at the time and prayed YOUR prayer we would have been tolerant of it also. Just so happens that this CHRISTIAN student was up for his speech and his and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gave him the strength and wisdom to pray HIS prayer. If whomever YOU pray to gave YOU that same strength then people of your beliefs may have backed you also…but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord and I am proud of Roy for also serving our Lord. We will pray for you too!

      • TheExpatriate700

        June 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm

        I’m proud to say I don’t pray to anything.

        • Aarif

          June 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm

          “I’m proud to say I don’t pray to anything.”
          Good for you! (And I must say, you sound proud too!)
          I now know of someone who is proud of nothing!

        • Sunny :)

          June 6, 2013 at 12:09 am

          And you know what? As a Christian, it wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest for you to stand up there and say something to that effect. Something like, “I know that this community is 95% Christian, but I don’t believe in god and I know that it was MY hard work and support from my wonderful parents that placed me in this position as Valedictorian. So I wanted to take this time to say, ‘Thank you, Mom…Dad.’ I love you very much.”

          Still kind, but gets your point across.

          I wouldn’t have minded in the least, nor would most Christians….I will say, though, you would have been on MANY prayer lists. LOL

          Seriously, atheists(that IS a religion, you know), muslims, buddists, etc. are FREE to stand and do as this young man did….stand for their beliefs….WHAT makes this one wrong? YOU are the one showing intolerance…..you. And I will be praying for you…you and many others commenting seem to be filled with such hatred and unhappiness…..as I would be without Jesus.

          Much love,
          Sunny :)

          • ykalon

            June 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm

            Sunny, if atheism is a religion when bald is a hair color.

        • D Schaumburg

          June 6, 2013 at 8:09 am

          Cool! That is your right to not pray and it should be the right of others to pray if they chose. They are not spewing hate like Islamists who too have their rights.

        • Carra

          June 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm

          What if you are wrong???

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Yes we do! Wouldn’t you like to join us? You could start by being tolerant of Christianity. I dare you.

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      “Wow! So respectful of other religions!” …said the guy sarcastically disrespecting Christianity. What a “sterling” example of tolerance!

  4. Wonnie Vilford

    June 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    So this is what represents a Valedictorian in SC? Hooray for education! May he have a long life of hating on those that don’t agree with his narrow view of the world and universe! Err, I mean…SO BOLD! Look at him holding to his convictions and telling all the non-Christians where they can stick it. Majority rules! If they don’t like it, they can leave! Right?

    Sad.

    • Matt

      June 4, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Do you know Roy? He doesn’t put down other people’s beliefs. What you are doing is labeling him with a stereotype and that is sad. He neither bashed nor hated a single religion while he was up there. He stood up for what he believes in. Something that he was told he wasn’t allowed to say. Why wasn’t he allowed to say those things? Because other people believe in a different religion? Is that reason enough to tell a kid who worked his tail off to get where he is that he can’t say something in a speech that might offend other people because they don’t wanna hear it? It might offend you if you were told you couldn’t talk about something you strongly believe in too.

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Hey, can I pile on too? Looks like fun! What are the rules for that; jump on anybody that doesn’t think like I do (and claim they are the intolerant one), or find somebody with convictions and attack that (while claiming they are the haters). On a serious note, I didn’t hear one word about “telling all the non-Christians where they can stick it”, but apparently you did…why is that? And I didn’t hear one word about “hating on those that don’t agree with his narrow view of the world”, but apparently you did…why is that?

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      “May he have a long life of hating on those that don’t agree with his narrow view of the world and universe!”

      Wow! A statement about hating…that is it’s own example of hating! IMPRESSIVE!! (not to mention hypocritical)

      • Carra

        June 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm

        Aarif……..God will bless him for his stand in this world….you are indeed wrong…………

        • Aarif

          June 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

          “Aarif……..God will bless him for his stand in this world….you are indeed wrong…………”
          Carra, I think you misunderstood me…please read my post again and understand I am really sarcastic at times. BUT…if that’s not the case, I welcome and respect your opinion!
          :)

    • dnw

      June 6, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      He was exercising his Constitutional right to express his belief, as are you and all of the others on this page. If you want to deny someone the right to express their beliefs then look to places like China, Iran, and what Egypt is going toward. In the United States you have freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

      • 4Justice

        June 7, 2013 at 1:47 am

        Well said!

  5. Texas

    June 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    The so called ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is from Matthew 6:9-13. What’s funny is directly BEFORE the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is written:
    “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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8)
    He wasn’t being brave, he was being a hypocrite.

    • Jesus Girl

      June 5, 2013 at 6:56 am

      The Bible also says that anyone who is unwilling to to profess their love for God in public will be denounced by God.

      • Rick James

        June 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

        It ALSO says not to pray in public…

        “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward…”

        Matthew 6:1-34

        • Aarif

          June 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

          WTG RICK!!!
          Apparently ALL the God haters got the same memo! You are like the 4th or 5th poster to haul-out Matthew 6:1-34 here completely out of context just to suit yourself! I’m impressed how, no matter how wrong you are, all of you stick together so well…what a team!
          See if you can cherry-pick the book of Romans like that.

      • ykalon

        June 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        Jesus Girl, that does not mean quite what you think it means. To the understanding of most what is meant is that if someone asks you if you believe in Jesus, you are required to say you do.

    • Sandra

      June 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      How rude of you to call this young man a hypocrite. Who are you to Judge anyone? The fact that you just judged him,does that not in fact make you a hypocrite? This young man earned the right to speak before the crowd, he was speaking of what had made him the man he is today. He glorified his personal experience with God, and he said “Some of you may understand when I say:”. He was not judging anyone, or saying anyone had to believe anything. He EARNED THE RIGHT to speak before the crowd. It is called FREEDOM OF SPEECH. He could have said this at home in private, but he was speaking of his life. As much as it upsets everyone he can also do exactly what he did. The Constitution doesn’t say free to practice religion only in one’s home. It says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (meaning a theocracy), “OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF;”. And if CONGRESS can’t silence religious practice, neither can YOU. This kid was within his rights to recite a prayer. Well done young man!!

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      “The so called ‘Lord’s Prayer’”…what do you call it?
      “He wasn’t being brave, he was being a hypocrite”…so are you hating him for being a hypocrite? Cuz after cherry-picking the bible verse and taking it out of context to suit you, I’d say you are hating this guy because you hate God…and I’d say he probably knew it was coming if he did what he did, and that would make him “brave” as I see it…but that’s just me.

  6. Seamus Ruah

    June 4, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Matthew 6:5

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      “Matthew 6:5″…thanks for the referance! I read it IN CONTEXT and got some good truths from it.

  7. Amor De Cosmos

    June 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Such a shame that this kid has so much disrespect for all the other students who might have a different understanding of god or have no belief at all.

    This is so typical of intolerant Christians who expect preferential treatment for their belief in the supernatural.

    • RedLocks

      June 5, 2013 at 12:38 am

      So you want to be valued for nothing? Interesting. How do you make LIFE out of nothing? “Super”Natural is anything unseen…like the beginning of LIFE. Of course Christians want preferential treatment, much like you do. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be making a post on this site hoping to make YOUR point.

      • Bob Saget

        June 7, 2013 at 11:02 am

        Atoms are unseen, but they are not supernatural. They are scientific.

        Herp.

        • Aarif

          June 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm

          ” Atoms are unseen, but they are not supernatural. They are scientific.”
          Ooooooo!! Good one Bob! VeRy cLeVeR!
          Does that mean that because my body has something like 8 to the 28th power of atoms in my make-up (give or take a few), that I am “scientific” too?

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Such a shame that this kid has so much disrespect for all the other students who might have a different understanding of god or have no belief at all.

      This is so typical of intolerant Christians who expect preferential treatment for their belief in the supernatural.”

      I really don’t appreciate you cramming your opinion, that differs from my own, down my throat.

      • Aarif

        June 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm

        (Sorry about the incorrect punctuation in the above post…need an edit button)

        “This is so typical of intolerant Christians who expect preferential treatment for their belief in the supernatural.”…CORRECTION: This is so typical of intolerant ANYBODY who expect preferential treatment for ANYTHING…as you are demonstrating so well.

    • Valerie Candelaria

      June 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      Amor: Do you also complain of intolerant Muslims who demand that schools and employers provide accommodations for their daily prayers? Or is your criticism of intolerance limited only to Christians? Funny how we never hear of Christians complaining about someone else expressing their beliefs freely.

      • Aarif

        June 8, 2013 at 2:06 am

        “Funny how we never hear of Christians complaining about someone else expressing their beliefs freely.”

        Nope.
        Maybe it’s a good time to start.

  8. d2e

    June 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Bold? Brave? I think “pious” and “sanctimonious” are more accurate adjectives. If this were a Muslim student who ripped up his speech and instead recited a Muslim prayer, would we be celebrating him for being “bold” in his faith?

    • Ed Johnson

      June 5, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      I have a feeling the the Freedom from Religion Foundation hasn’t gotten around to harassing Muslim practices in public schools (foot washing basins, prayer rooms, excursions to Mosques) … in fact, I bet they retract their nads just at the thought.

      There’s intolerance, and then there’s just plain cowardice.

      • ykalon

        June 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

        Ed Johnson don’t confuse public school with private schools. The rules only apply to public schools not private, further they only apply to US schools not schools in other countries. Beside to my knowledge even if a public school in the U.S.A had those practices they would probably be ok as long as they didn’t require everyone to wash their feet or required everyone to go to a mosque on excursions. Prayer room is probably totally fine since if you are not a believer what business do you have in the prayer room?

  9. d2e

    June 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Bold? Brave? I think “pious” and “sanctimonious” are more accurate adjectives.

    “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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8)

    If this were a Muslim student who ripped up his speech and instead recited a Muslim prayer, would we be celebrating him for being “bold” in his faith?

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

      “Bold? Brave? I think “pious” and “sanctimonious” are more accurate adjectives.”
      Wow, what hate and intolerance; but WTG on taking a bible verse out of context just to say you hate God and everybody that don’t. See if you can cherry-pick Romans like that.

    • Aarif

      June 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Hey look d2e, I’m posting twice just like you did!
      “If this were a Muslim student who ripped up his speech and instead recited a Muslim prayer, would we be celebrating him for being “bold” in his faith?”
      …no, because that would have been stupid…which is why that didn’t happen. (Nice try though, you’re obviously not a Muslim) The “bold” isn’t about him being surrounded by a friendly crowd, it’s about the bigger picture of adversity, about the hatred and intolerance and fear of Christianity outside that auditorium…of which you are obviously a part…hey, way to hold up you end of the hate/intolerance deal so the speech and prayer could be labeled as “bold”!

  10. Alan Duncan

    June 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    The school has not been “under attack” over public school prayer as Costner asserts. The Constitution and over 200 years of legal percedent place limits on the degree to which public institutions including public schools can appear to endorse religious practice. Defending the Constitution is not an “attack.” If I came into Costner’s church and tried to prevent him praying, that’s an attack. But of course, that’s not what happened.

    To the same extent that religious institutions do not wish to be meddled with, they and their adherents should grant public institutions the same immunity.

    • Tori Costner

      June 5, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Yes it truthfully has. Our school board will not allow student led prayer at any school Events or in the school. So yes it has, that is why they told my brother he could not pray in his speech but, he did.

      • Missy Lee

        June 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm

        Tori, your brother is truly brave and I thank him for what he did. If non-christians don’t like the prayer, so be it. All we ask is respect us enough to allow us to pray. They don’t have to like it. I have no problem listening to prayers of other religion in the situation like this. I won’t participate but I will respect them enough to let them practice theirs.

    • Ed Johnson

      June 5, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      What – exactly – is unclear about “Congress shall make NO LAW prohibiting the free expression [of religion].” ?

      The First Amendment in
      THE legally binding document over the entire jurisdiction of the USA.

      The auditorium inside the high school in Liberty, SC – is well within the jurisdictional purview of the US Constitution.

      Don’t miss the ‘period’ there at the end. It’s a key part of my comment.

  11. Chad Hope

    June 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    What a great job this student did by sharing his faith!

    To the critics, our first amendment clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Our constitution and our courts have not only allowed students to express themselves in this manner during graduation exercises – it would be contrary to our freedom to deny these rights. A student has the right to quote the Bible, or more specifically, to quote Jesus in a valedictorian speech. In fact, other students who hold to other religious beliefs have the same right. That’s religious freedom! That’s what being an American is all about. When that right is taken away – our freedom is taken away,

    This student quoted the Bible as a part of his speech, telling a story of how God has impacted his life. It was incredibly personal and appropriate. He was not praying to God, but rather reading the very words of Jesus that he felt were appropriate to his life at that moment in time. It is no different than the poem that was read by the principal in her opening remarks. Someone or many may have disagreed with those or other remarks during the ceremony, but in no way were our rights infringed upon – they had the freedom to express themselves peacefully and anyone in disagreement has the freedom to walk away or not listen. That’s the freedom we have in America!

    As a general note about hypocrisy – there is nothing hypocritical about quoting Jesus in a personal speech. One may not live up to his father’s standards, but yet still quote his father in a speech because he looks up to him, admires him, and strives to please him. One thing I’ve found true throughout my life – our feelings are often more revealing about ourselves than they are about others. The negativity I’m reading is incredibly hurtful to the student and most likely is intended to be so. It reveals more about the writer than it does the person being written about.

    I have to say, being present and hearing the speech first hand – this student never said anything negative about other beliefs or other religions. At no time did he cast any stones. Unfortunately, he is having many thrown at him here by people who are arguing against religious persecution – yet are doing exactly what they argue against – persecuting a young man because he exercised his freedom and shared something incredibly personal to him – the words of Jesus. He was open and honest about who he was and what he believed. You could see his face. You could hear his words. You knew who he was and what he was saying – that’s integrity! I much prefer the positive nature of this student’s commentary as he shared some of himself with a school that has impacted his life.

    Way to go Roy – you spoke from your heart and you were positive! This is such a great quality and one which I feel is endearing of a valedictorian. We could all learn so much from your example.

    • Alicia

      June 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Chad Hope well said! and Way to Go Roy, just remember when you speak from your heart you can’t go wrong!

    • 4Justice

      June 7, 2013 at 2:17 am

      Thank you Chad Hope! I am glad you are someone who was there and knows exactly what happened! I’m with you: This young man was just expressing his feelings! He was NOT leading anyone in prayer, he was NOT imposing his views to anyone, all he said was “I’m so thankful that both my parents led me to the Lord at a young age and I think most of you will understand WHEN I SAY”(not “when I PRAY”!)and then he starts reciting the “Lord’s Prayer”! I do commend this young man for his speech and I thank you again for your thorough comments! God’s blessings!

  12. Elizabeth Winkler

    June 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I am very proud of this young man for standing strong in his faith and not letting others say that he is not allowed to pray. There has been a lot of fighting going on trying to keep pray out of schools or any school function. I feel if someone wants to express their faith and beliefs they should be allowed too. He loves his God and is not ashamed to show it. I say amen and way to go. Jesus was not ashamed or scared to show His love for us, we should give him the same respect. Be honest with your faith and do not hide it like others think we should. We are Christians and love our Lord we do not hide it. Praise God for your faith and strength.
    Elizabeth Winkler

  13. Deanna Counts

    June 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    I am so proud of the stand Roy decided to take during his speech. Roy used this opportunity to share his beliefs as well as the beliefs of the majority of people in our town. Thank you Roy! You made us proud.

  14. jesskayc

    June 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Way to go Roy!! I am so proud of you for standing up for what you believe. Pay no attention to those that criticize you, in some instances, they are just mouth pieces for those too cowardly to speak for themselves. You spoke YOUR opinion, which you are allowed to do, and judging by the applause, a lot of Liberty residents wholeheartedly agree with you!

  15. Mike McClellan

    June 4, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Reading the above comments it seems that some may not have been at the graduation. Roy just shared his personal belief and he never even hinted that if you didn’t agree with him you could stick it. As far as Christian getting prefered treatment some may not even know or want to remember that several years ago the Christians were told they could not have their day of pray at the White House and the very next week the Muslims were brought in to have their prayer. I don’t remember hearing that those that believed in God were going to sue or take the Muslims to court or even those that allowed that to happen. It seems that there are some people that want Christians to keep quite so that they can be the only one heard. When this country was founded it was one nation under God and it prospered. Look where this country is headed today. Christians are not saying that other religions cannot pray and have their worship. What we are saying is allow us to have the same right you have. Men like Roy are in my eyes, are what this country needs, men unafraid to say what they believe in their hearts. Roy I am proud of you along with many others. Just as Steven when hewas being stoned,looked up and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God because He was pleased at Stevens faith, I believe Jesus is just as proud of your stand for your faith.

  16. Tori Costner

    June 4, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    My brother, Roy b. and I have always been taught to never deny God in front of our friends. The school board decided to not have student led prayer in our schools or at school events. They told Roy b he could not do this but, he did, not for anything other than to show he is a Christian and proud that he serves a wonderful God. Roy b. is not trying to be a hypocrite but didn’t Stephen get killed because of spreading the word of God? The thing is everybody has their on say in their religion. My brother and I have been raised in a Christian home, we are both saved and live to serve a mighty God. I’m proud of my brother for everything he did and that he did what he believed in. God says if you deny me in front of your friends, I will deny you in front of my father.

    • TheExpatriate700

      June 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      And if you were born in the Middle East, you’d be praising Allah and cheering on suicide bombers. Some people, like you and your brother, are easily programmed.

      • Tori Costner

        June 4, 2013 at 8:53 pm

        But we don’t we live in Pickens County, where we born and raised to be a Christian. We both know where we are going after we leave this earth and that is eternal paradise.

      • RedLocks

        June 5, 2013 at 12:40 am

        Get some JOY!

      • Aarif

        June 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm

        “And if you were born in the Middle East, you’d be praising Allah and cheering on suicide bombers.”
        But we’re not in the Middle East, and they’re not praising Allah, and they’re not cheering on suicide bombers…do you think before you type this stuff or does it just come out so fast you can’t?

      • Aarif

        June 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm

        “Some people, like you and your brother, are easily programmed.”
        I must say, I owe you a ‘thanks-for-the-laugh’ on this one! (I’m still laughing as I type) “Some people”….LOL…but not you! (struggling to finish this) With that comment alone, you should get you money back from where you were “programmed”.

    • JKPS

      June 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      Your argument here, that Roy was doing the right thing because he wasn’t denying God, makes no sense unless Roy goes around praying and praising God literally every moment he’s in public. I’m assuming he doesn’t do that, so that means that if Roy is silent, then he is denying God in front of his friends.

      Basically, nobody was asking Roy to “deny God.” They weren’t telling him to get up there and say “I don’t believe.” They were asking him to *not* create a hostile environment and to follow the rules. Roy apparently decide he is above the rules! Bully for him. I’m so happy that he was able to pat himself on the back for creating an unwelcoming environment for any non-Christian in attendance, like we don’t already get it shoved down our throats CONSTANTLY that we don’t matter as much as you idiots apparently do.

      • Tori Costner

        June 5, 2013 at 10:23 am

        Me and my brother do talk about God and try to spread the word of him. We don’t shove it down your throats. If it was your son or daughter and y’all said whatever prayer or whatever you may do, then that’s your decision. The thing is they told Roy b he COULD NOT do it. My brother was simply expressing how God has made him everything he is and thanking him. Anyways I’m not going to argue seeing I am only 15. I’m just standing up for my brother and backing him up like many other people. He did what he believed in. He wasn’t saying join me in prayer… He said the Lord’s Prayer expressing what God means to him. Apparently you weren’t at Graduation.

      • Aarif

        June 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        “…that we don’t matter as much as you idiots apparently do.”
        The love is overwhelming around here. May I strongly suggest that you never travel to Germany, because if you don’t speak German you are going to be in a very small minority, and it sounds like that won’t sit well with you.

        • Aarif

          June 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm

          (continued from last post)
          …and in Germany, they WILL shove the German language down your throat.

          • Aarif

            June 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm

            ” I’m so happy that he was able to pat himself on the back for creating an unwelcoming environment for any non-Christian in attendance”

            Do you really expect the entire world around you to cater to just you? Are you really that special? Are you really that stupid? Has anybody ever pounded you for not being a believer the way you impiously pound those who do believe? Why the hell does it matter to you what somebody else believes or doesn’t believe? Apparently you ARE special. Because everybody should be right just like you are.
            If you are a non-Christian, at a graduation (or anywhere) where 95% of the people there are Christian, and something Christian is said or done…what are you upset or shocked about? That the whole place didn’t stop in their tracks and say, “we better not do anything that may upset ‘ol JKPS”. Get real. If it bothers you so much that most of the people where you live think and believe differently, (and therefore incorrectly), than you do, change that…show them how they’re wrong and you’re correct. Step up, set people straight and prove your beliefs or non-beliefs. Just show people the true facts, anything not true will quickly be found out and discarded by any intelligent person.
            (BTW, people have been trying to disprove the Bible for centuries and it remains the most translated, printed, purchased, given, and read book in the history of the planet…why is that? Because it’s false?)

  17. tiffany moon

    June 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    Just awesome so proud of this young man for sharing his testimony. That took amazing courage that a lot of us need to have.

  18. sarah

    June 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    It’s called First Amendment RIGHT.
    The kid exercised his—–Good for him.

  19. leanne

    June 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I applaud this young man for taking a stand and speaking the Truth. God bless!!

  20. Roaring Mouse

    June 4, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Tebow would be proud.

    • Ken

      June 5, 2013 at 7:53 am

      When there is a tragedy in this country the very first thing you hear (from the Presdent, Local Government and the News Media) is to “Pray for the victims”! In a nut shell, we want Gods grace and healing as a “reactive” blessing. But when we use prayer in a “proactive manner” to bless our nation then we (as a country) have determine that peoples rights have been violated.
      Why is that?

  21. sally

    June 5, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I think it is quite interesting to say that based on the constitution student led prayer in schools should not be allowed. I say this because George Washington said in one of his speeches that (man) “may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.” That doesn’t sound to me like he intended to separate faith from his official duties in the government.

    Benjamin Franklin began every day of the Constitutional Convention with a prayer–not a “moment of silence”. To me that doesn’t sound too much like forbidding public prayer was what they intended.

    What the Constitution does say is that the it is prohibited to require a religious test in order to qualify for a Federal office. Fine, we will not require anyone to be a part of a certain religion in order to hold office in our country.

    I don’t think that this young man reciting the Lord’s Prayer at his graduation service infringed on anyone’s rights. I believe whole heartedly that no one should be forced to take part in a religious custom. HOWEVER, hearing someone recite a Christian prayer doesn’t force you into anything. Hearing a Christian prayer doesn’t force you to become Christian any more than hearing the call to prayer playing makes you a Muslim.

    Kudos to Roy for talking about the factors that helped him to succeed in life, especially his faith, during his commencement speech! I pray that God will bless him and give him favor in the future!

  22. Karen

    June 5, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    The people who are complaining was not at graduation nor probably live in the community. This is a small town where everyone knows everyone. I’m not aware of any of the students or staff complaining about what this young man did. So why is it such a big deal. He stood up and represented himself well. He never ask for all this attention. He just did what he believe in. I’m proud of him and his family. They are great people.

  23. Sunny :)

    June 6, 2013 at 12:13 am

    To the ones who are claiming that this was HORRIBLE….
    You know what? As a Christian, it wouldn’t have bothered me in the slightest for you to stand up there and say something to that effect. Something like, “I know that this community is 95% Christian, but I don’t believe in god and I know that it was MY hard work and support from my wonderful parents that placed me in this position as Valedictorian. So I wanted to take this time to say, ‘Thank you, Mom…Dad.’ I love you very much.”

    Still kind, but gets your point across.

    I wouldn’t have minded in the least, nor would REAL Christians…I will say, though, you would have been on MANY prayer lists. LOL

    Seriously, atheists(that IS a religion, you know), muslims, buddists, etc. are FREE to stand and do as this young man did….stand for their beliefs….WHAT makes this one wrong? YOU are the one showing intolerance…..you. And I will be praying for you…you and many others commenting seem to be filled with such hatred and unhappiness…..as I would be without Jesus.

    Much love,
    Sunny

  24. Paula

    June 6, 2013 at 9:53 am

    This courageous act by Roy Costner gives hope to many of us “seasoned citizens” who are concerned with what’s happening in our country today. . 2 thumbs up, Roy!

  25. Caroline Roberts

    June 6, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    For some of you on here dissing on Roy and on Christianity, please stop. I know you have your opinions but if you don’t have nothing nice to say then dont say anything at all. How would you like it if I judged you and your Muslim prayer or whatever god you worshipped? It wouldn’t feel too good would it? I am proud of what Roy said! So much faith and courage to speak in front of a large crowd. We need more like him! What if the teachers took a stand when he prayed? How wonderful would that be?! We need more people like him! This world is evil and becoming more evil. We need our God, the creator of all things! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16, 17 ESV) Thank you God! Amazing love right there.

  26. Mary Ann Goulet

    June 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Roy,
    Bravo brave and faithful servant!!!! You are an exceptional example of what a young man can be – classy, moral, faithful, gutsy, etc, etc. I am so very proud of you. It’s so rare to see someone (especially a young gentleman) to speak the truth and stand up for what is right. You, sir, are a hero in my book. We need more people to stand up and set things straight. So difficult in a world of intolerance (especially against we Christians). God Bless you and keep you safe. May you be guided by the spirit to continue on with your special gift. Contrary to what Mike Gallagher says, I feel strongly that you may want to consider a position in broadcasting so that you too can speak the truth loud and clear. You are a fine example, keep it up.

    A Canadian who believes in the cause.
    Mary Ann Goulet. XOXO

  27. Scott Uselman

    June 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    I love the debate so far. It always amazes me how the Christian people are supposed accommodate others. Consider the method of promoting the Christian faith, it is not meant to be coercive and it is about persuading those who don’t believe that God loves them and wants a relationship with them because He cares for them. Yet, those who do not believe are focused on enforcing laws that will cause Christians to lose freedom of speech. Roy B earned the right to share what he wanted to share. He did it. If someone who is not a believer would have gave a speech about a great tree they worshiped, most of us would have scratched our heads and gone home without calling them names and making accusations against that person about their motives and character. I don’t understand why there is so much aggressiveness toward a high school age young man. Let’s be clear, he used a prayer that talks about forgiveness of others, bestows hope for those who do without, and encourages people to live the way Jesus did now. Whether or not you believe, you have to agree that what is written about Jesus and the way He lived His life makes one think that if others did this, then this would be better after all. Yet, some of the posts that I have read on this thread accuse him of promoting himself and making those who do not believe feel uncomfortable. As I said I fail to see the attack on them. As far as questioning whether or not he was, or was not, denying God before others, I think the question must be asked, what if God exists? And, what if God prompted him to read this passage? Again, could God have been trying to speak through Roy B so that He could give someone hope? For those who do believe in Jesus and have criticized Roy B for reading this prayer I want to point out that Paul rejoiced when God’s Word was spoken, both with pure and impure motives. For Christians this leaves only one response and that is to rejoice. If you believe, then you God reminded you that His Kingdom goes beyond a political point of view. It is about living in peace with each other and learning to embrace the value of each person. If you are not a believer, then if you felt uncomfortable you should ask yourself why. After all, non-believer Penn Jillette once said that if you are a believer and you don’t share what you believe, then how bad would you have to hate someone to keep your faith to yourself? Quite a statement from someone who has chosen not to believe. Yet, he is respectful of those who do, and has at least chosen to be reasonable about a person’s belief. Why can’t we embrace that this young man worked hard to become Valedictorian and went against the grain a little so that others might have hope. If the spotlight was on you, would you focus on bringing hope, or would you focus on promoting yourself? Good job Roy B! You were faithful with your academic responsibility and your Christian responsibility.

  28. Fernando

    June 6, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    To be a Christian today is to be looked down upon and your viewed like a criminal in many instances. If you mention “oh, I’m a Christian”, eyes start rolling and your laughed at. Atheists hate with a passion anybody who says they believe in Jesus or Jehovah. It’s scary, if a Muslim mentions Allah, everyone becomes very serious and is very careful not to offend. If your a Buddhist people smile and pat you on the back. Christianity offends people for some reason. We’re not crusaders or conquistadors. We believe in God, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That’s it.

    • Aarif

      June 8, 2013 at 1:19 am

      ” Christianity offends people for some reason.”

      No matter how messed up people are, they don’t like to be told they’re messed up. It’s called pride. So people (including me) shun the Truth, the Light, that exposes the stains, the warts, the sin, of our lives….Jesus Christ is that Truth and Light that exposes people for who we really are…and for many people (which used to include me), that offends. When the Light and Truth of Christ cuts away the darkness that we hide in, we are forced to acknowledge who we really are…and that offends.

  29. Marla

    June 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Some of you seem to not want to see Christians speak, or pray or have a voice at all. However, rejoicing over Christians being “muffled” so to speak, is like trampling on the graves of the soldiers that gave their lives to give us our freedoms of speech and religion. It does not matter what you believe. We should all rejoice in this young man’s right to speak what he believes.

  30. Patrice

    June 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    What a brave and courageous young man. Looking at the faculty behind him looking down at the floor showed what spineless educators they are save the one young, long-haired blond girl who smiled continually and kept her eyes on the young man, she never diverted her eyes to the floor. There are more Christians than atheists so why do they need to be appeased??????

  31. Nocknock57

    June 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Don’t know what the big deal here is. Valedictorian wants to say a prayer, his deal. wasted opportunity to speak for his whole class, imho, and I respect those who disagree with my view on that. On the other hand, if a Teacher wants to have the whole class say the Hail Mary during school or study the bible, now there is a problem that does infringe on separation of church and state. Now, you all calm down and talk nice to each other, that’s what adults do….

    • Aarif

      June 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      “…now there is a problem that does infringe on separation of church and state.”
      Really? How does it “infringe” on what is not a law? (Unless you can steer me to where I can read that law, And I don’t mean having to accept somebody’s vague interpretation…I want to see the explicit wording.)

      “Don’t know what the big deal here is.” …hopefully, now you do.

      • bonsaikc

        June 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        Aarif, denying the principle of the Separation of Church and State because that specific phrase is not in the Constitution is pretty obtuse. Thomas Jefferson made his intent known very well in the letter to the Danbury Baptists, but of course you want to ignore that. And about a century of jurisprudence has defined the separation of church and state very well, thank you.

        • Aarif

          June 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm

          “Aarif, denying the principle of the Separation of Church and State because that specific phrase is not in the Constitution is pretty obtuse.”
          Really? What else that’s not written in the constitution do you pretend is there? And if you like doing that kind of thing, you probably have no problem ignoring what IS actually written in the constitution.
          Be careful with that kind of rational, it could lead to something like totally ignoring the 4th Constitutional Amendment and doing something really Hitler/Natzi-ish…like secretly and needlessly spying on millions of citizens and swiping millions of phone records for years; while using government agencies to punish political enemies.

          And as cool as T.Jefferson was, his “intent” is no more of a law than your intent or my intent; so yes, I do ignore that.

          “And about a century of jurisprudence has defined the separation of church and state very well, thank you.”
          No it hasn’t…..you’re welcome.

          • bonsaikc

            June 8, 2013 at 9:45 am

            And yet the Dominionists and other Tea Party pseudo historians love to talk about the intent of the Founding Fathers. And saying, No, it hasn’t is such a compelling argument I can hardly stop crying long enough to post this. School sponsored prayer is considered a breach of the Establishment clause of the first amendment, whether you think it is or not.

  32. Julie

    June 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    God Bless you Roy! And God Bless America! We all should be grateful for living in a country where we are able speak openly and freely. Roy, I am so proud of you for speaking your heart and sharing your love of Jesus at your special graduation moment. Congratulation on earning Valedictorian, that’s an amazing acomplishment and obviously well deserved. Well done fine and faithful servent, and may God continue to Bless you in all your future endevours!

  33. Owen

    June 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I wonder what the reaction would have been if a Muslim, Hindu, or Satanist valedictorian gave a sectarian prayer at their graduation.

    • Aarif

      June 8, 2013 at 1:02 am

      “I wonder what the reaction would have been if a Muslim, Hindu, or Satanist valedictorian gave a sectarian prayer at their graduation.”

      Well, keep wondering cuz that didn’t happen.

  34. bonsaikc

    June 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I’m just wondering when Christians decided that Jesus really didn’t mean it when he said, (Matthew 6)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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But 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. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    • Aarif

      June 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      “I’m just wondering when Christians decided that Jesus really didn’t mean it when he said….”

      Since you were just wondering, Christians haven’t decided that; ….but you are about the 4th or 5th God-hater here to post the verses of Matthew 6:5-8 taken out of context.
      You guys sure get the talking points passed around, looks like you’re a couple days late though.

      • bonsaikc

        June 8, 2013 at 9:42 am

        Sorry it took me so long to get back here. You keep saying that passage is taken out of context. I’d be very interested in what you think the context is, because it was in answer to the query “teach us to pray.” All catchy sermon ideas aside, what would you say is the real context of that passage?

        I warn you, I don’t need “talking points” and have been asking this very question about public prayer since my days in seminary and the pulpit.

        • Aarif

          June 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm

          ” …what would you say is the real context of that passage?”

          What I think matters none.

          If you read it on your own, that will be the limits of your understanding. (Enter: Proverbs 3:5-18)

          My suggestion is ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the truths of those verses, or any scripture for that matter. (But you’ve been to seminary so you already know all that).

          • bonsaikc

            June 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm

            That’s a pretty easy way to cover yourself Aarif. The first principle of Biblical hermeneutics is to understand it as it’s written, not to try to find hidden meanings if a plain one is obvious. You have no answer therefore assume some arcane knowledge only God can give.

          • Aarif

            June 9, 2013 at 12:29 am

            Well bonsaikc, we apparently only get but so many posts with Reply buttons…probably a good thing. This reply is to your June 6 at 3:09 post, as it didn’t have a reply button to use:

            You said, “You have no answer therefore assume some arcane knowledge only God can give.”…Yes.
            That is a correct statement except for the word “assume” (I am not assuming).

            A portion of 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 reads:
            6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

            “What no eye has seen,
            what no ear has heard,
            and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—
            the things God has prepared for those who love him—

            10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

            The following web link covers 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 far better and more concise than I ever could… I hope you have the time to investigate:
            http://bible-truth.org/myst-1.htm
            (you may have to copy and paste the above web address, I’m not sure how it’s going to do until I post this comment)

          • Bonsaikc

            June 9, 2013 at 1:24 am

            No, really, aarif, it’s okay if you can’t explain why my quote of the plain words of Jesus is out of context. If you can’t find a meaningful message in that plain text then I’d suggest you need a new teacher because you are looking for hidden messages under a plain narrative. I don’t care what Paul says about something g else, YOU CLAIMED I took the teachings of Jesus out of context. YOU HAVE to provide that context or ad MIT you are full of it. But it’s okay if you’d rather live by some odd interpretation of Paul’s writings than the plain teachings of Jesus. Just admit it.

  35. Harry

    June 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Such stupidity. Americans clearly don’t know how good they have it, carry on down this road and they’ll soon see the alternative.

  36. 4Justice

    June 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Wow! It sounds like you’re projecting in this young man the reflection of your own self! You sound like a very defeated person with nothing going on for yourself and living a miserable life… I feel very sorry for you!

    • 4Justice

      June 7, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      My comment at 7:49 pm was in response to Steve, who posted this comment:
      “Guarantee if this hillbilly goes to a university — and that’s a big if, I give him even odds of winding up on a pig farm — he’ll get pinched for multiple drunk and disorderly and DUI charges, and probably worse besides. This kind of redneck trash can almost never handle the big, scary real world.
      Valedictorian in a SC high school is about the same thing as being the smartest kid in a NYC special ed school.”

      • Aarif

        June 8, 2013 at 12:34 am

        4Justice, thanks for posting a copy of Steve’s comment; looks like I missed it before a moderator appropriately whacked it. And I like your 7:49pm post too btw.

        • Aarif

          June 8, 2013 at 12:58 am

          (In response to Steve, who’s comment is copied above by 4Justice.)

          Steve, what are you backing your “guarantee” with? Nothing? I thought so.
          I agree with 4Justice that you just laid it all out there about yourself for everybody….hey, there’s no shame in pig farming, I’ll bet you are pretty good at it. You will learn someday that you and you alone are to blame for you lack of success in life. Hating off and downing somebody just because they have done better than you is the set-up for a miserable life, because somebody will always be better.
          Try staying sober for a day and see if that helps.

  37. bonsaikc

    June 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Here’s the truth of the situation. The Valedictorian bore false witness and for that you all cheer him. http://www.examiner.com/article/liar-for-jesus-christians-cheer-dishonest-high-school-valedictorian

  38. bonsaikc

    June 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    What if someone had done this and began praying in Arabic? Or started talking about Muhamad? What would you think then?

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