In a scene that is quickly becoming ubiquitous and saddening, an American public school has censored the free speech of a student who wished to thank God for his blessings. The story comes to us from Fox News Reporter Todd Starnes.
Brooks Hamby worked hard throughout his High School years, and when the time came for him to graduate, he was rewarded with an opportunity to speak as the Salutatorian of his class. In a time honored tradition, the highest achieving students would have the opportunity to address their entire class on the most important day of their collective education.
Seeing the opportunity to speak as a great responsibility, Brooks wanted to speak from his heart and say the things he believed were most important. But the school and the district had other things in mind…
“… the Brawley Union School District in Brawley, Calif., said the references to Jesus and prayer in Brooks’ graduation speech were “inappropriate” and violated “prevailing legal standards.”
School officials rejected three versions of the young man’s graduation address, and one administrator went so far as to redact every religious reference with a black marker – as if it were some sort of top secret government document.
“The first and second draft speeches proposed oppose government case law and are a violation of the Constitution,” read a warning letter sent to the young man. “The district is advising you that reference to religious content is inappropriate and that the two drafts provided will not be allowed.”
The school may have thought that they were “defending the Constitution” but the truth is just the opposite. Instead of protecting the Constitution, they violated the constitution by censoring the free speech of a law abiding citizen.
Hiram Sasser, an attorney for the Liberty Institute, told me Brooks was on firm legal ground to deliver the original version of his speech.
“It is outrageous that a government school official would demand that a salutatorian submit his speech for government review for the purpose of censoring religious speech,” Sasser told me.
“Even in the Ninth Circuit, no government official may censor simple references to God that served as personal acknowledgment by Brooks of something greater than himself.”
This stifling of free speech is simply another liberal attempt to pretend that the idea of “separation of church and state” exists in the Constitution. IT DOES NOT. The philosophy of separation of church and state is simply an idea that goes hand in hand with the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and it is supposed to protect the faithful from the Government. That is all. It is not about protecting the government from religious speech or action.
In this case, the problem is even more egregious, because the student is obviously not speaking for the school district or the local government. It is his personal remarks to his fellow students, and is not some covert Government attempt at injecting religion into the graduation ceremonies.
Thankfully young Mr. Hamby seems to have his head on right and understands what is at stake when the government seeks to censor our speech… so he disobeyed the unjust law the school thought it was enforcing. And he did so at his own peril…
“I didn’t want to compromise my faith,” Brooks told me. “I wasn’t interested in removing every trace of God or Jesus. I wasn’t interested in conforming to those demands. I did not want to compromise my values. I didn’t want to water down the message.”
“In simply coming before you today, I presented three drafts of my speech – all of them denied on account of my desire to share my personal thoughts and inspiration to you in my Christian faith,” he told his fellow graduates in the fourth version of his speech. “In life, you will be told no. In life, you will be asked to do things that you have no desire to do. In life, you will be asked to do things that violate your conscience and your desire to do what is right.”
“May the God of the Bible bless each and every one of you every day in the rest of your lives,” he said.
“So I will leave you with this, with a quote from the biggest best-selling book of all time in history: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot,’” he said. “Be the salt of the earth, be strong and stand for your convictions and do what is right, ethical, moral, and Godly, no matter the cost to you.”
Amen, Mr. Hamby. Amen.
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