At Beaver High School in Pennsylvania, a student was asked to deliver a commencement ceremony speech to her class, so she drafted one true to her Christian beliefs, invoking the Almighty God, and Jesus Christ, for help as students make their way in the world.
But she was never allowed to share the speech. Her principal, and her school district, deliberately censored her speech, according to Fox News.
Moriah Bridges complied and removed what the district thought of as unconstitutional in her speech (any reference of hers to God or Jesus Christ), and delivered one essentially suitable for all.
Then she contacted First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s top religious liberty law firms, for help.
“The last lesson this school district taught its students is that they should hide their religious beliefs from public view,” said Jeremy Dys, attorney for First Liberty Institute. “That fails the test of the First Amendment.”
Dys argues that it wasn’t Moriah who broke the law; rather, it was Beaver School District.
Bridges had planned to issue a prayer to her fellow graduates, asking God to help them in their journeys through life:
“Lord, surround us with grace and favor everywhere we go. Soften our hearts to teach us love and compassion, to show mercy and grace to others they way that you showed mercy and grace to us, even to the ultimate sacrifice. Help us love our brothers and our sisters deeply. Lead us to bless them.”
Before she was able to deliver the speech, her principal sent her a written message:
“The selected students may still address their class and indicate the things that they wish/hope for their class, but they may not do it in the style of a prayer and most certainly may not recite a prayer that excludes other religions (by ending ‘in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’ or ‘in the matchless name of Jesus,’” principal Steven Wellendorf wrote in a letter to Bridges.
Wellendorf essentially told Bridges that prayer – even student-led prayer – is not permissible by federal law.
What do you think? Please pray for our country and for our First Amendment rights to worship freely.