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Author Topic: ‘God had bigger plans,’  (Read 1192 times)
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« on: June 21, 2006, 04:49:48 PM »

‘God had bigger plans,’ valedictorian says after Nev. high school cuts off her speech

School officials edited the script of Brittany McComb’s graduation speech before she gave it, removing six references to God and two biblical references. But when she chose to use such language anyway, school officials turned down the microphone in the midst of her address to graduates June 15.

McComb, one of three valedictorians at Foothill High School in Las Vegas, Nev., said she was not surprised when she was told not to talk about God during the school-sponsored event because “even in the Bible it says that the name of Jesus will be hated.”

“But the thing is, it is freedom of speech, so I was upset,” McComb said June 20 on the “Jay Sekulow Live!” radio program. “I was really leery about having to defy authority.... It took me a while, but I answer to a higher authority and it's my freedom of speech, and I had to come to terms with that.”

School officials told McComb her address would be offensive to some people, but she said some things people say are offensive to her yet she respects their right to express their views.

“My message was all about love and it was all about my personal experience,” she said. “That's not offensive.”

When administrators noticed McComb was deviating from the pre-approved text, they turned down her voice. But news reports indicate that jeers erupted from the nearly 400 graduates and their families in response to the school’s action and in support of McComb.

“I was hoping they were going to turn it back on,” she told Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. “... But God had bigger plans. It was kind of exciting, because everybody was upset.

“It was just nice to see people standing up for God, number one, and then freedom of speech, number two,” McComb added. “There was an atheist that called in to one of the news stations saying that I should have been able to talk and that they shouldn't have turned off my microphone. And he doesn't even believe in God.”

Part of God’s “bigger plans” is that McComb now has had opportunities to express her faith in Jesus Christ through national media outlets.

“I went through four years of school at Foothill and they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech,” McComb told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in comments picked up by the Associated Press. “God's the biggest part of my life. Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my Lord and Savior.”

Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said he read McComb’s unedited speech and agreed with school officials’ decision to censor it.

“There should be no controversy here,” he said. “It’s important for people to understand that a student was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech.”

In 2003 the Clark County School Board, which governs McComb’s high school, amended regulations regarding religious speech, the Review-Journal reported, prohibiting district officials from organizing prayer at graduation or selecting speakers in a manner that favors religious speech.

But if students or speakers are selected “on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria,” then their speech “may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.” The school “may make appropriate neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech is not school sponsored,” the guidelines say.

“We review the speeches and tell them they may not proselytize,” Bill Hoffman, the district’s legal counsel, told the Review-Journal. “We encourage people to talk about religion and the impact on their lives. But when that discussion crosses over to become proselytizing, then we tell students they can’t do that.”

McComb said she believes her audience was wise enough to realize she was expressing her opinions, not preaching. Sekulow told her she was within the bounds of the First Amendment.

“You had the right to make that speech,” he said during his radio program. “You had the right to include a reference to your faith. You had the right to include a reference to Jesus. And you should not have been censored. And the ACLU and the school district here is absolutely wrong.”


Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2006, 04:52:31 PM »

Can you imagine what our nation would be like today if the ACLU had been around during the founding of this great nation?? All the most famous speeches made by our founding fathers would have been censored, the communists or the muslims would be in charge and law abiding citizens would be jailed while criminals are free to roam.


Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2006, 04:54:49 PM »

Attorney: School Could Face Suit for Censoring Christian Valedictory Speech

By Jim Brown
June 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - A constitutional attorney is denouncing a Las Vegas school district for pulling the plug on a Christian student's commencement speech because it referred to her faith in Jesus Christ. At a recent graduation ceremony, Clark County School District (CCSD) officials cut the microphone on Foothill High School valedictorian Brittany McComb after she began reading a speech that contained Bible verses and references to God.

The district officials claim McComb's speech amounted to religious proselytizing and could have been perceived as school-sponsored, thus making it a violation of the so-called separation of church and state. But Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Florida-based pro-family legal organization Liberty Counsel, says the high school valedictorian has every right to take the school district to court over the incident.

"I think this is one of the most outrageous examples of censorship at graduation that I've seen," Staver contends. "For school officials to literally be standing by the switch at the mixing board and cut the microphone on a student, simply because that student mentions God or Jesus, is just unbelievable."

With high school behind her, McComb plans to study journalism at Biola University, a Christian college in Southern California. But during her four years at Foothill, she says, "they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech." However, when the school's 2006 valedictorian tried to apply these lessons in her graduation address, the graduating senior with the 4.7 GPA ran into a problem.

In vetting McComb's speech, school officials stripped it of biblical references and approved an edited version, cutting six mentions of God or Christ and omitting two biblical references. At the graduation exercises, however, the teen commencement speaker felt compelled to deviate from the edited version. "God's the biggest part of my life," she says. "Just like other valedictorians thank their parents, I wanted to thank my Lord and Savior."

For the Foothill High School graduate, it all boiled down to her faith and her fundamental First Amendment right to free speech. For those reasons , she asserts, she chose in this instance to rebel against authority for the first time in her life. And, according to an Associated Press report, a sympathetic crowd of nearly 400 graduates and their families booed angrily at the school officials for several minutes after they cut McComb's microphone.

An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada official who read the unedited version of the young woman's speech told the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper the school district did the right thing in cutting the valedictory address short. But Staver disagrees that the district's action was warranted and comments, "In my opinion it's reprehensible, and I also believe it's unconstitutional."

The ACLU spokesperson quoted in the Review-Journal made the argument that graduation speakers like McComb are given a school-sponsored forum and therefore their speech is school-sponsored speech. But Liberty Counsel's chairman insists that student commencement speakers' personal remarks and expressions are free speech under the U.S. Constitution.

"Clearly, the law protects students who are in the graduation podium, on the platform, because they are there for some neutral reason -- in this case, being the valedictorian," Staver says. "That student has the right to be able to give a message of his or her own choice regarding the viewpoint of the particular message that's being delivered."

While the attorney regards the silencing of McComb's speech at the Foothill High School commencement as one of the most egregious acts of graduation censorship he has seen, he notes that it is one among many such incidents that happen to speakers of faith every year -- a problem that has to be stopped. "Schools should not, must not, and must stop censoring these kinds of religious viewpoints simply because they are Christian in nature," he says.

Even now, Staver points out, his organization is involved in a similar case. Liberty Counsel is currently representing a Colorado high school graduate whose diploma was withheld after she shared her faith in Jesus Christ during a commencement speech.

Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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