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Valedictorian rips up approved graduation speech, talks about religion instead

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  • Unbelievable West Jordan, Utah
    June 5, 2013 5:57 p.m.

    Stand for something, or fall for anything.

    Courageous young man!!!

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 5, 2013 6:19 p.m.

    I suspect the reaction would have been quite different had this young man exclaimed "Allah Akbar!" or bore witness to Joseph Smith restoring the gospel to the Earth, but as long as the majority support his views, he's a hero against liberalism and has great courage, or something like that.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 5, 2013 6:23 p.m.

    Not courageous at all. Just a typical teenager thumbing his nose at authority. Just because it had a religious overtone doesn't make it impressive.

    I don't understand why a prayer needs to be said at all. Religion is a personal thing. What this kid did seems more like standing on a Rameumptom than defending religion, especially since no one was attacking it.

    We didn't have a prayer at our local high school graduation a few weeks ago. I wasn't offended. I doubt the Lord was either.

  • Bubble SLC, UT
    June 5, 2013 6:44 p.m.

    If this young man had torn up his speech and shouted a bunch of curse words, would he be applauded? Or if he had given a political speech? What if he had endorsed a religion other than Christianity?

    Maybe by some. But most people would have been offended that they were forced to listen to something with which they disagree while at a public function.

    Just because he appealed to beliefs shared by the majority does not make him right.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    June 5, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    Why would this even make the paper here. What's your agenda DN?

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    June 5, 2013 6:53 p.m.

    If he'd been a Muslim and done the same thing, they'd be calling for his head on a pike.

    Secularism doesn't mean the absence of religion; it means that religion is a private matter.

  • AZ Blue & Red Gilbert, AZ
    June 5, 2013 7:14 p.m.

    As much as I want to say this was good I have to agree with some of the comments that if this was something else I think the tone and reception would have been a lot different. Glad we have some good people out there but not sure this was the best solution. Send them out preaching or service. Can you imagine if at a ball game here in the USA someone sang the North Korean or Iranian National anthem? Maybe that is a stretch but you get the gist. There is a time and place for everything.

  • SigmaBlue Centerville, UT
    June 5, 2013 7:15 p.m.

    Onward Christian Soldiers! What will fill the moral void created by the educational theory our children have been subjected to? I believe the most important battle today is that between Christians and atheists. I congratulate this courageous young man for standing up for Christian virtues, which atheists seek to destroy at the peril of civilized society.

  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    June 5, 2013 7:18 p.m.

    Good for him! May he ever have the courage to stand up for his core beliefs and be an honor to God, and to his parentsbeliefs in spite of this nations governmental muzzling of religious christian principles.

  • Grandma 20 Allen, TX
    June 5, 2013 7:46 p.m.

    Hooray for that courageous young man. The angels have recorded what was done and said today.

  • ProudUtahn St. George, Utah
    June 5, 2013 8:12 p.m.

    Freedom of speech? until you talk about Christianity, even if the majority has the same belief.
    I say hooray to this young man, he did what is expected of a Valedictorian, he spoke from the heart to encourage his fellow class mates for life, and did not buckle to the politically correct group. Had it been a muslim speaking his uplifting beliefs I would support him as well, though if there were any problems the government and attorneys would come to his defense.
    As Claudio stated earlier "Religion is a personal thing." I agree, so is the morals and standards of our great nation a personal thing and needs to be fought for. Once again I say Hooray to this young man.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    June 5, 2013 8:30 p.m.

    "Religion is a personal thing."

    Yes. A personal thing which is expressible through free speech, whether in public or in private.

  • Infantry Blue Bountiful, UT
    June 5, 2013 8:36 p.m.

    This is wrong--and the positive “Hooray for this young man!” comments are wrong--on so many levels.

    Most of us would agree we should “Do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” Yes. That sounds fair and right.

    How would we have reacted if the young man had been a Muslim, ripped up his approved speech, and testified there was one God—Allah—and Muhammad was his prophet?

    Probably not very well.

    How would we have reacted if the young man had been an atheist, ripped up his approved speech, and argued there was no God?

    Probably not very well.

    If we would object to that, why would we feel good about this?

  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    June 5, 2013 8:54 p.m.

    pragmatistferlife
    salt lake city, utah
    Why would this even make the paper here. What's your agenda DN?
    -------

    Dialogue, perhaps?

    SAS
    Sandy, UT

    Secularism doesn't mean the absence of religion; it means that religion is a private matter.
    ----------

    And freedom OF religion isn't the same as freedom FROM religion or MARGINALIZING religion by pushing it into as small a space as possible.

    As for me -- and I gave the prayer at my high school graduation years ago -- perhaps the best alternative would've been for those who wanted a prayer to hold a separate prayer service before the graduation ceremony, even if it were a day before, and invite all who would like to attend. That would draw those who wanted to acknowledge and thank the Lord, and might also act as a proselytizing service for the curious or interested. In many, many cases there is a third alternative, especially when the only alternatives are banned or offensive.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    June 5, 2013 8:55 p.m.

    I doubt all of you who applaud this young man's cheek would be cheering if he were a Muslim.

    Did the young man flaunt authority because he wanted to bear testimony, or because he wanted to pray on the street corner? Only God knows and He rewards in secret.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 5, 2013 9:08 p.m.

    Rational,

    They held a moment of silence. Sounds like a perfectly good compromise to me.

    Nate et al,

    I don't recall saying he should be forbidden to do anything. Just because one is free to do something, doesn't mean one should. This young man was free to say bigoted comments about his classmates over the microphone as well, but he didn't. There was no threat or loss of the freedom of speech here.

    SigmaBlue,

    Who said atheists complained? Maybe the LDS voiced concern because the prayer wasn't to their format. Maybe the Muslims objected. Maybe the Jews. Since when did Christians have a monopoly on prayer, or the right type of prayer?

    The Pharisees prayed in public for attention and gratification from the masses. Seems this boy knows that Bible story quite well. History does repeat itself.

  • opinion 47 SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    June 5, 2013 9:22 p.m.

    @Claudio

    He mentioned religion in his speech because it was important to him- the valedictorian ,
    the school chose him to speak and he wanted to share a message with religious overtones .

    A typical teenager is not a valedictorian to begin with. A typical teenager would be in the crowd half listening and plan on popping his pimples that night before going to see a "fast and furious " movie talk about girls and cars.
    Don't mistake typical for atypical.

  • roberto Moses Lake, WA
    June 5, 2013 9:32 p.m.

    Finally somebody with the nerve to push back. Sounded like the said something that I believe the founders of the country would have been proud of. And it did take courage, way more courage than most of our politicians have.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    June 5, 2013 9:41 p.m.

    Well said, SAS. If this was a Muslim the Christian right wing in America would be going berzerk.

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    June 5, 2013 9:55 p.m.

    I like what SAS said. Anyone who thinks the Founding Fathers meant that religion should be a private matter that you don't discuss with anyone needs to do a little bit of research. It seems to me that the reason for people coming to this country in the first place was to practice their religion without goobermint interference...of course, I may have been wrong since history is being revised by the socialists.

  • AZKID Mapleton, UT
    June 5, 2013 10:01 p.m.

    @Claudio: You missed the point. It wasn't so much about the prayer itself, but that religion was being attacked and he responded. The school district used to allow graduation prayers until atheist groups shut them down. This courageous young man fought back, and I applaud him for it. Furthermore, as the valedictorian, I doubt there was much of the authority-nose-thumbing you speak of. I see this as a very thought out, principled, and appropriate response.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 5, 2013 10:28 p.m.

    Where in this story does it say atheists were the ones who objected? How do you know it wasn't Muslims? Jews? Mormons, who disagreed with the format of the prayer? Hindu? Sikh? Nothing, absolutely nothing in this story said atheists had anything to do with this. I did not ever suggest, imply, or otherwise say that he or anyone should be forbidden from speaking about their religion. I simply said there is no reason for one religion to be placed in a special position during a public ceremony for kids of all faiths.

    I didn't miss a point. I am capable of analyzing a situation for myself and forming my own opinion. Yours is different. That's fantastic. That's freedom of speech. No need to condemn me. I'm not condemning the kid. I disagree with him and I certainly don't think this was courageous. Nothing wrong with my opinion.

    Opinion 47,

    I'm sorry your experience with teenagers has left you with such a negative opinion. Your description of a typical teenager certainly doesn't agree with mine. I find them far more intelligent, compassionate, and involved in their community than they are given credit for.

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    June 5, 2013 11:34 p.m.

    @Rational:
    I'm not calling for the exclusion of any religion, just saying that I don't find such ostentatious displays to be all that productive--or in particularly good taste. Most people, whether they share the same views as the student or not, can respect the student's faith if he mentions it. (A lot of atheists and agnostics included!) But the more his speech becomes a sermon, the greater the chance that disagreement will turn into disruption--people came to see a graduation, not to be told to repent. So better to tread carefully.

    The First Amendment was proposed in response to several centuries of religious wars in Europe. Both parts are important--keeping religious liberty, while not officially endorsing any particular religion. A moment of silence does that quite well, I think.

    (And it's surprising to see some of the comments being made against atheists on this very board--I wonder how people would react if other religions were condemned in the same way.)

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2013 12:36 a.m.

    "Secularism doesn't mean the absence of religion; it means that religion is a private matter"
    No it doesn't - religious people have the same freedom of speech as everyone else - a "secular" person has no more right to be insulated from religion speech than a religious person has the right to silence everything they disagree with = it is disingenuous for secular fundamentalists to advocate tolerance while simultaneously refusing to offer it - that is merely politically correct passive/aggressive bulling

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    June 6, 2013 3:36 a.m.

    I disagree with this person. He had committed to talk about Topic A and he talked about Topic B instead.

    Yes, I do believe in freedom of conscience and the first amendment. I don't like people who are suppressing expressions of religious faith. It isn't their right to prevent the rest of us from experiencing diversity simply because it makes them uncomfortable.

    But he needed to stick to his agreement. In the short term it might be good for his viewpoint, but in the long term it is not. That is the thing about morality, it takes the long-term view.

  • Albert Maslar CPA (Retired) Absecon, NJ
    June 6, 2013 5:18 a.m.

    Thank God for a new wave of young patriots that reflect constitutional and religious values as defined by the Founders.

  • TA1 Alexandria, VA
    June 6, 2013 5:51 a.m.

    Said it before and I will say it again - religion is not under attack - rather the world is tired of the "religious" shouting from the rooftops about God. God never intended religion to be that way - rather the “religious” should concentrate on taking care of the poor, the needy, the sick and the afflicted - that is a much more powerful statement that will not be silenced or forgotten. Throughout history - that is what the great religious people did and we remember them – those who shouted from the rooftops and did nothing to help others will soon be forgotten.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    June 6, 2013 5:52 a.m.

    for a different prospective, google sante fe school prayer.

    From 2000. A lds and catholic family sued to stop student led prayer at football games.

    Proving, that all those "prayers" are fine, unless they bother you.

    I have no problem with this student doing what he did. It was an individual thing. Now, had the school approved his religious speech, that would have been a problem.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    June 6, 2013 5:56 a.m.

    Would you all have applauded if he changed his speech to talk about putting an end to bullying the gay and lesbian students at the school? Would you be proud of this young man if he had recommended that Christians be more inclusive and tolerant of people of other faiths? Would this man have been as brave if he had stood up for the forgotten and marginalized of his society.

    Make no mistake--this was not a spontaneous act; he planned this out. He turned the podium into his own personal Rameumptom for all to see. There are much better ways to stand up for religious freedom. This was not the best way to go about it--at the expense of others' freedoms.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    June 6, 2013 6:15 a.m.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof, freedom of speech..."

    That is what the first amendment has to say about religion.

    "All legislative authority granted herein belongs to a congress consisting of a house of representatives and a senate."

    Those are the words of the very first part of the constitution following the preamble.

    Legislative authority is the power to create law. Only congress has it. Not the President. Not the SCOTUS. If congress were to pass a law prohibiting prayer in school how would it not violate the first amendment? If congress, who's job it is to create law cannot do it, how did the SCOTUS do it when they are prohibited from creating law?

    What is prayer if it is not speech? It is speech to God. So what if some people think that God does not exist? Can they outlaw speech just because of who we were talking to?

    "The law perverted! ...and, in its wake, all the collective forces of the nation—the law, I say, not only diverted from its proper direction, but made to pursue one entirely contrary!..."
    "The Law" by Frederick Bastiat

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    June 6, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    Many teenagers are engaged in acts of service, inventive improvements, and diligent study. This young man is one of them and my commendations go to him for expressing himself well.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    June 6, 2013 6:39 a.m.

    @SAS
    On which planet would a Muslim be persecuted for speaking up at a graduation? Certainly not in America.
    Muslims are a protected class. If anything, a Muslim speaking his mind would have greater protection than a Christian.
    We have courted terrorists in the name of multiculturalism.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    June 6, 2013 6:48 a.m.

    Religion under attack?

    There are approximately 350,000 religious congregations in the U.S. Of those, 314,000 are Protestant or other Christian denominations and 24,000 are Catholic.

    Any so-called attack on religion in the U.S., especially Christianity, is exaggeration at best, and mere propaganda at worst.

    It's strange people think certain things about school prayer which just aren't true. First, anyone is allowed to pray in school if he/she chooses. It simply cannot be organized by the school or appear mandatory. Students are and always have been allowed to conduct private prayer. The reason organized prayer is not allowed in school is to protect those who choose not to pray from undue pressure and/or discrimination based upon that decision. And if you don't think there is pressure/discrimination in high schools based upon conformity, you are either completely naive, you have forgotten what high school is really like, or you were one of the bullies.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 6, 2013 7:01 a.m.

    I'm sure that had the young man done the same thing, but recited an Islamic prayer, the audience would have been just as thrilled.

    Not.

    The funny (ironic) thing is that your Lord despised the hypocrites of his day. I don't doubt he feels the same way about the hypocrites of today.

    I don't see this young man's actions as "courageous", I see them as self-serving and selfish, placing his own religious beliefs above everybody elses'.

  • Aggielove Cache county, USA
    June 6, 2013 7:18 a.m.

    The first post in this comment section was right on.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    June 6, 2013 7:28 a.m.

    Claudio "Mormons, who disagreed with the format of the prayer?"
    I'm a Mormon who hears lots of nonMormon prayers here in Virginia and I am happy to hear them, and I'm sure God is too.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    June 6, 2013 7:37 a.m.

    What's expected, what's accepted and what is uncalled for. Sure we all need to know what is expected, I call the 10 commandments, the great expectations. I can accept that others don't, but There are things that have a time and place for. even thou chances are good that our own opinion is unacceptable. So all you can do and go with is what you think is right, and if your wrong is hope for forgiveness.

  • WRK Riverton, UT
    June 6, 2013 7:58 a.m.

    Who was it that said, "the best way for evil to win is for good men to do nothing?"

    Hooray for this good man who did something.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    June 6, 2013 8:03 a.m.

    " If congress were to pass a law prohibiting prayer in school how would it not violate the first amendment"

    Congress did not pass a law prohibiting the yelling of FIRE in a theater. But, isn't that interpretation a good one?

    If a school opened up the giving of a prayer to any and everyone who wanted to, I believe that would not be a violation of the constitution.

    But, we all know that the majority would have a major issue with some of the prayers.

    And can you imagine the turmoil that it would cause?

    How can one not see that it is best all around to just not go there?

  • Christmas Carole LAS CRUCES, NM
    June 6, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    @Claudio,Bubble,SAS,AZ Blue & Red, etc..: Folks, I'm now a "Granny". I've lived a number of years and experienced MANY changes in society. I am a "caregiver" for the truly "elderly". Last night my client and I invited some of the other women in the facility to view an older Doris Day movie. There was a song sung(natch, it's a Doris Day movie!), with heaven mentioned in it and dialog where high moral standards were mentioned and insisted upon from a play for the town at large. It was obvious, though not directly "preached", that these high standards were as a direct result of strongly based Judo/Christian beliefs. These beliefs is what this GREAT country were founded upon. I have witnessed that the more "politically correct" our society in this country has become the more violent, immoral, and decadent our society is! That's all I have to say....

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    June 6, 2013 8:18 a.m.

    The town has probably had a history of why it is called Liberty and that may have been in their process of why he did what he did.

    However, if I remember, South Carolina believed that Mitt Romney was a member of a non-Christian church, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    He may not have thought that way as he gave a speech that included the Christ or Lord's Prayer but that is what the majority of Republicans in that state seemed to espouse in their process as the myriad of other candidates went around their state of South Carolina.

    In the picture of the Superintendent, School Board, Principal and Assistant Principals and Teachers, none of them seemed to show signs of being upset what he did. After living in Germany after WWII and the suppression of a people and their religious beliefs, traditions and brandishing their DNA on their shoulders, maybe the youth in South Carolina are realizing what our government is trying to do in their personal life.

  • Moabmom Moab, UT
    June 6, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    @Counter Intelligence said "religious people have the same freedom of speech as everyone else".... Right on!!!!! The PC police seem to have forgotten this. and "it is disingenuous for secular fundamentalists to advocate tolerance while simultaneously refusing to offer it - that is merely politically correct passive/aggressive bulling" ....Replacing prayer with "a moment of silence" is a cop-out and only used to "silence" the point of view that the secularists don't agree with. What the PC crowd don't seem to understand is that "tolerance" does not mean 'acceptance" Christians tolerate a lot of things we do not agree with or accept, It's the PC crowd that bullies people and tries to force people to "accept" their views. There is no "right to not be offended". In God we Trust....deal with it.

  • mecr Bountiful, UT
    June 6, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    I am glad he spoke out. It is time for the majority to start speaking out too. Prayer should be back to high schools as it used to be. Maybe that will help our youth to think about morals and values for once.

  • One Angry Salebarn Worker Madison, SD
    June 6, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    Better to live humbly for a cause, than to hold an audience captive that is not there to listen to you.

  • Counter Intelligence Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    TA1

    "rather the world is tired of the "religious" shouting from the rooftops about God."

    Actually I am tired of a lot of zealous preaching from many special interest groups that have nothing to do with religion - are you suggesting that I have the right to silence them, that I should be tolerant but you should not or that they have some sort of exception that religious people do not?

    Please consider this my shout from a rooftop that such hypocrisy represents intolerance in its worst form.

    To those who ask - what if a Muslim prayed etc - since I belong to no church, every prayer is not of my faith - but I respect it for what it is.

    Joeblow
    all Sante Fe proves is that Mormons are not monolithic - but I think Harry Reid already proved that

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    June 6, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    Claudio,

    You say one thing eluding to "typical" teenagers, than another calling them "intelligent...etc...
    Your word play undermines your shallow posting. Bored in Springville? LOL

  • Alex 1 Tucson, AZ
    June 6, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    Would I offer a prayer as part of my valedictory speech under normal conditions? Probably not. However, if you tell me that I cannot and may not do it, and I will guarantee you that I will stick my prayer right in your ugly face. Prohibitions against prayer in graduation ceremonies call exactly for this kind of defiance. Bravo, young valedictorian, bravo!

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 6, 2013 9:43 a.m.

    Uncle Rico,

    I'm sorry you found the honest expression of my beliefs shallow. I'm also sorry you lack the ability to comprehend both posts, as you falsely believed there was a contradiction in them. All the best!

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    June 6, 2013 10:47 a.m.

    Fools mock.

  • Wilf 55 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 6, 2013 11:01 a.m.

    No, not courageous. Tearing up the approved speech in front of the audience? Rather defiant and insubordinate. Not the kind of young man I would employ.

  • Bubba Mike Seattle, WA
    June 6, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    "Therefore, whosoever desired to worship mut go forth and stand upon the top thereof and strech fort his hands toward heaven and cry with a loud voice . . .. "

    "Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and perverse people, yea' he saw that their hearts sere set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods."

    "Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up onto great boasting, in their pride."

    Alma 31

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2013 11:31 a.m.

    @Christmas Carole
    "I have witnessed that the more "politically correct" our society in this country has become the more violent, immoral, and decadent our society is!"

    You grew up in a period where segregation was a standard across large chunks of the nation. I reject the idea that we're getting particularly worse overall.

  • Brown Honeyvale, CA
    June 6, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    So interesting to read all the comments, I am amazed and the same old commentators whose only objective is to scan the DN articles and post anti-religion, secularist opinions. (Not to mention the anti-LDS bias--so much for respecting everyone.)

    This young man can say what he wants, the speaker at my graduation was a politician who spoke only of himself and yes, we all sat there and listened. Folks can listen or get up and walk out and return when he's done, no "careful treading" needed. He earned the honor to speak and can share his life's experiences as he sees fit. Get off your "I'm so offended" high horse and learn to live in the world with others, appreciating them for their differences. Isn't that what ya'll who are disagreeing are all about…appreciating differences??? Rock on young man!

  • ParkCityAggie Park City, Ut
    June 6, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    I wouldn't have been offended by his words, he was expressing himself and how his beliefs shaped him, that's fine. But let’s get one thing strait here; this is heralded as “courageous” and “good for him” because he expressed a message that represented a majority religious belief of the audience. Had this kid mentioned Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, he would have likely been boo’d out of the place. Imagine if he mentioned that his parents lead him to the Koran and espoused his love for Allah and thanked Mohamed? The slant of the story would have been MUCH different. Yet he’s just exercising free speech right? This kid new he was in the safe zone with this speech.

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    June 6, 2013 12:47 p.m.

    @WRK
    "Who was it that said, "the best way for evil to win is for good men to do nothing?"
    Hooray for this good man who did something."

    So not talking about Jesus in a valedictorian speech is evil? Not saying a prayer before a graduation ceremony is evil? I think that you have a very interesting definition of evil.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 6, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    The young man may have had some worthwhile things to say. But the loudest message is the one he communicated by example. To wit, one's word of honor is expendable.

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2013 1:07 p.m.

    Courage's? Not hardly. Getting up and saying things that make your audience applaud does not take courage. What it takes is arrogance, and contempt for people that are different than you.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    June 6, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    Moabmom says:

    "It's the PC crowd that bullies people and tries to force people to "accept" their views. There is no "right to not be offended". In God we Trust....deal with it."

    ---

    Surely you see the irony of your bullying statement against bullies. "... deal with it." (i.e., if you don't like it leave - pretty standard Utah response - and one of a bully).

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 6, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    Slow day in Syria, or just tryin' to stir the 'religion is victim' pot?

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    June 6, 2013 2:03 p.m.

    If people are offended because some people speak up for religion, II am sure that there are just as many offended when they hear people speak up for gay rights. However the first amendment protects religious speech as well as political.

  • Fender Bender Saint George, UT
    June 6, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward."

    "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly".

    Matthew 6:5-6

  • Liberal Ted Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2013 3:01 p.m.

    How can atheists claim to be tolerant of others, when they exclude and make every attempt to stop those who are believers from expressing their religioius beliefs?

    So you are offended by people of faith that choose to pray. Did you ever consider that it's offensive to tell people that they cannot exercise their constitutional right to worship?

    Just something to think about.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 6, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    "Verily I say unto you, they have their reward."
    ______________________________

    Thanks for the quote, Fender Bender. A timely humility reminder is always in order.

    Kids dream of doing something ostentatious like Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ at the Super Bowl, or an Oscar winner at the podium using the moment to tell off the whole world about something or other. When suddenly thrust into the spotlight, what does one do with his or her fifteen minutes of fame?

    "They have their reward," a still small voice should warn.

    I did some brash and foolish things when I was younger. Maybe this kid was sincere and I should give him the benefit of the doubt. But I sure don’t think that betraying a trust to speak as he agreed to was a display of integrity.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 6, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    Of course there is that little quirk about how this means the entire concept of his speech was a lie and deception to the committee. Lying for the Lord I guess...

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    June 6, 2013 4:03 p.m.

    As much as I agree with free speech and freedom of religion, with this kid's religious views and probably his Biblical view, he forgot to honor those parts of God's Word where honesty and keeping one's vow is mandated for a child of God.

    If he was as valedictorial as he should have been, this was an honor granted for the purpose of "bidding farewell for the graduating class". (Webster, 2013). I can think of several ways that he could have cleverly, respectfully, ethically spoke on this very topic, sans the dramatic/rebel shredding at the beginning. I will have to read his entire speech to see how bright his message really was.

    Being the daughter of teachers who taught us principled living, and a father who became a principle and then the superintendent, there were many times I wanted to grandstand or let my rebel flag fly, (Class of '69!). Remembering that I represented the "fruit" of my parents teaching and position stopped me many times from plain tom-foolery. And I don't regret it.

    The essence of this young man's message was no different than any religious zealot challenging authority.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    June 6, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    How is this different from:

    Breaking your word and your trust?
    Validating civil disobedience and disrespect to your elders/leaders, which is unBiblical?
    Not being creative enough to weave your message in the speech while retaining your honor as valedictorian?
    Disapproving of fatwas, then issuing a fatwa against your school administration's rules?

    As an avid, born-again Christian, I have to challenge my evangelical friends to stop condemning Joseph Smith for allowing the destruction of the printing press (that let his polygamy slip), if they cannot see where our young valedictorian essentially trampled on his agreement to obey certain rules of "free speech" also.

    There is a place for heroism and tyranny. The line between the two depends upon which side you stand.

  • J.D. Aurora, CO
    June 7, 2013 5:35 p.m.

    How can this guy be a Christian since he has not been baptized into the one true Church?

  • SparkyVA Winchester, VA
    June 8, 2013 10:17 p.m.

    But we have rules for good purposes. Let's see, we had a rule about sitting in the back of the bus. We had a rule about people being property. We had a rule about women not voting. This young man has learned that rules are made by people, sometimes very flawed people, and rules can be changed by those willing to challenge them. We have a new Civil Rights movement for our day - we are once again struggling for the rights, not given by government or by man, but declared God given rights by those who founded this nation. And on every generation falls the responsibility to defend those rights.

  • SparkyVA Winchester, VA
    June 9, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    I am seeing a lot of "Had we lived in the days of the Prophets..." in these comments. There is no moral obligation to obey an illegal law or rule. You who condemn this young man for breaking these rules are of like mind to those who picked up rocks to stone Christ for breaking the laws of blasphemy. You lack the courage to speak the truth and hide behind the "rules". Our schools and our country is failing because you hide your heads and play it safe. Time to repent and change your ways all you would be followers of Christ.