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God Redacted from High School Graduation Speech
Townhall ^ | 6/16/14 | Todd Starnes

Posted on 06/18/2014 3:47:39 AM PDT by rhema

Brooks Hamby never wanted to be a rabble-rouser. He just wanted to thank Jesus in his high school graduation speech.

But 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.”

So the 18-year-old Christian did what any red-blooded, Constitution-loving American would do – he defied school officials and thanked God anyway.

“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.”

The Stanford University-bound student's troubles started last Monday when he was notified that he had been selected as the salutatorian. He was instructed to turn in his speech on Wednesday – the day before graduation.

The first draft of his speech was written in the form of a prayer. “Heavenly Father, in all times, let us always be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us.”

Brooks was called to the front office, where he was advised by a counselor that the speech had been rejected. So he began writing a second draft that he turned in later that day. That draft referenced the school’s censorship of his original speech.

“Certain interpretations of the law, school policies and conditions have stifled my ability to speak freely to you this evening and prohibited me from doing otherwise,” he wrote. “However, if I could pray with you this evening, I would say something along these lines.”

On Thursday morning, just hours before graduation, Brooks and his parents were summoned to a meeting with the principal. The Hambys were given a notice from the district advising them that if their son “interjects religious content, the sound will be cut off, and a disclaimer to the entire audience must be made explaining the district’s position.”

After the meeting, Brooks decided to seek the counsel of his pastor at Western Avenue Baptist Church.

“We talked and brainstormed for a while and prayed for guidance and direction on what to do in words and actions,” he told me.

Afterward, Brooks delivered a third version of his speech – this time to the superintendent. That speech, too, was rejected. He was emailed a copy of the speech with every religious reference marked out in black.

With just a few hours left before graduation, Brooks was at a crossroads.

“I went home and thought, time is ticking down,” he said. “I wanted to impart something that would be meaningful and having some lasting positive impact.”

And Brooks was not interested in outright rebellion. He bristled at the notion that the school might consider him to be a rabble-rouser.

“I did not want to compromise my values but I wanted to work with them as much as possible,” he said.

So Brooks wrote a fourth version of his speech. At 5:09 p.m. he emailed the speech to the superintendent, principal and counselor. By the time he stood before his fellow graduates, Brooks had not received a reply.

“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.”

He concluded his remarks with a reference to the Almighty – in defiance of school administrators.

“May the God of the Bible bless each and every one of you every day in the rest of your lives,” he said.

Some might call what happened next – a bit of a minor miracle. School officials did not attempt to silence the young scholar. He was allowed to finish his remarks uninterrupted.

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.”

Brooks is not the first graduation speaker to have his Christian voice silenced – and I predict he won’t be the last. In my new book, “God Less America,” I write about other teenage Christians whose speeches were deemed inappropriate by government representatives.

Brooks is still coming to terms with the national attention generated by his thoughtful act of defiance. He told me that it’s important for Christians to take a stand.

“I would tell young Christians to be bold and always speak with gentleness and kindness, to leave the sweet taste of Christ in their mouths, allow them to want and search for more,” he said.

It’s truly stunning to think that in this progressive age of thought and reason, a young man like Brooks Hamby might be considered to be a dangerous religious radical whose voice must be silenced by agents of the government.

That being said, I find it quite appropriate to conclude this dispatch with words that Brooks shared with his classmates.

“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.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; US: California
KEYWORDS: brookshamby; christianity; constitution; firstamendment

1 posted on 06/18/2014 3:47:39 AM PDT by rhema
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To: rhema

He should have posted his speech on the net and stood silently at the podium with a gag for the allotted time.


2 posted on 06/18/2014 3:51:05 AM PDT by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
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To: rhema
I am trying to remember if my Valedictorian or Salutatorian thanked God in their speeches. I don't think they did but we were Catholic School so maybe it would have been a “day” moment since we all believed in God. The night before we had the Baccalaureate at the Cathedral with the Bishop having Mass so we certainly had God as part of our graduation.
3 posted on 06/18/2014 3:54:06 AM PDT by napscoordinator (Governor Scott Walker 2016 for the future of the country!)
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To: rhema; Kolokotronis

I applaud this young man.

I pray for the Iraqi Christians who will soon be martyred for doing the same thing....refusing to be forced against their reborn spirits to deny their Lord.


4 posted on 06/18/2014 3:57:04 AM PDT by xzins ( Retired Army Chaplain and Proud of It! Those who truly support our troops pray for victory!)
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To: rhema

If the president of the US takes his oath of office on the Bible, school kids should be able to quote from it


5 posted on 06/18/2014 3:58:57 AM PDT by silverleaf (Age takes a toll: Please have exact change)
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To: xzins

If Satan has a vacation home on earth it’s located in California. He probably has one in DC too.


6 posted on 06/18/2014 4:00:16 AM PDT by jsanders2001
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To: rhema

Bttt


7 posted on 06/18/2014 4:04:19 AM PDT by Guenevere
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To: rhema

BRAVO!!!


8 posted on 06/18/2014 4:18:22 AM PDT by PistolPaknMama
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To: rhema

I heard this young man’s speech. Nice job!!


9 posted on 06/18/2014 4:19:05 AM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: rhema
were “inappropriate” and violated “prevailing legal standards.”
Then the next question from the students is “ Oh, please provide me with a written copy of those prevailing legal standards that state a Christian can not thank Jesus in particular locations and times.” Next stop a lawyers office.
The only way we stop this nonsense and get our country back is by making it time consuming and expensive for the people to be asshats...........
10 posted on 06/18/2014 4:56:41 AM PDT by SECURE AMERICA (I am an American Not a Republican or a Democrat.)
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To: rhema

Freedom of speech and religion does not apply to academia.

Pray America wakes up


11 posted on 06/18/2014 4:58:09 AM PDT by bray (Palin/Putin 2016)
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To: jsanders2001

If Satan has a vacation home on earth it’s located in California. He probably has one in DC too

I believe his throne is located in DC. After all most of his minions reside or work there..........


12 posted on 06/18/2014 5:00:33 AM PDT by SECURE AMERICA (I am an American Not a Republican or a Democrat.)
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To: jsanders2001

One of his minions has rented him a very nice DC home..

They call it the white house.


13 posted on 06/18/2014 5:03:23 AM PDT by cableguymn (It's time for a second political party.)
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To: rhema

Seems that Christian-hating bigots who have nothing but contempt for what they call bible-thumping, gun-loving, knuckle-dragging, anti-science Christian morons have found a home in California.

In other words, the adolescent, psychotic Progressives have found a home in a beautiful state which they have turned into a sewer of intolerance, hate and collectivism.

(Uncles Ho, Che, Fidel, Stalin, Adolf et al would be very proud of the current crop of junior-high-school absconders occupying California.)

IMHO


14 posted on 06/18/2014 5:38:55 AM PDT by ripley
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To: rhema

As long as young people like this exist, and there are a lot of them, there is reason for hope.


15 posted on 06/18/2014 5:46:48 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (Want to keep your doctor? Remove your Democrat Senator.)
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To: jsanders2001

I thought that Washington DC was his Earthly HQ.


16 posted on 06/18/2014 6:06:32 AM PDT by ro_dreaming (Chesterton, 'Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It’s been found hard and not tried')
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To: rhema

Submit the same speech praising Allah and Muhamed and see if it is “inappropriate” and “in violation of legal standards”.


17 posted on 06/18/2014 6:07:52 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: rhema

Since none of these “administrators” respect the First Amendment, each should be fired on the spot

Then sued by the student for deprivation of rights

Send these bastards a message loud and clear


18 posted on 06/18/2014 6:08:29 AM PDT by A_Former_Democrat (Shame on Sam The Sham . . . Michael ScAM . . .$$$ grab all planned by this "handlers")
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To: rhema

Yet again, the names of the responsible officials are omitted. Name them! Shame them! Why is our side afraid to play to win?


19 posted on 06/18/2014 6:30:15 AM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: rhema

What was the response from the audience and classmates?


20 posted on 06/18/2014 6:47:30 AM PDT by Exit148
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To: wastoute
I think he did just fine!

He concluded his remarks with a reference to the Almighty –

in defiance of school administrators censors.


21 posted on 06/18/2014 8:08:11 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: rhema
Some might call what happened next – a bit of a minor miracle. School officials did not attempt to silence the young scholar.

They're not enTIREly stupid!

22 posted on 06/18/2014 8:08:57 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Exit148

STANDING OVATION!

(If I wuz to bet money on it!)


23 posted on 06/18/2014 8:10:31 AM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Exit148

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th9_xk8QClY&feature=share


24 posted on 06/18/2014 8:33:41 AM PDT by skeeter
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To: rhema
I would have loved to hear his graduation speech. I would like to meet him.

FMCDH(BITS)

25 posted on 06/18/2014 8:47:20 AM PDT by nothingnew (Hemmer and MacCullum are the worst on FNC)
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To: silverleaf
If the president of the US takes his oath of office on the Bible, school kids should be able to quote from it

Great point!

FMCDH(BITS)

26 posted on 06/18/2014 8:49:41 AM PDT by nothingnew (Hemmer and MacCullum are the worst on FNC)
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To: rhema

Last two phrases of the US National Anthem: “For the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Surgically, removed from the World Cup intro for team US (Monday). That says everything. 40% of the United Nations member states are tin pot dictators...they don’t need that crap broadcast back home.


27 posted on 06/18/2014 8:52:33 AM PDT by Fitzy_888 ("ownership society")
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To: Fitzy_888

“O’er”


28 posted on 06/18/2014 9:41:27 AM PDT by BykrBayb (Wagglebee, welcome home we missed you! ~ Þ)
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To: rhema

So proud of this young man and his family!


29 posted on 06/18/2014 12:57:56 PM PDT by Cyman (We have to pass it to see what's in it= definition of stool sample)
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