A Valedictorian Can’t Tell His Story

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School Censors Religious Words in Graduation Speech

Via Fox News: A high school valedictorian in Vermont was forbidden by school administers from delivering nearly half of his graduation speech in which he discussed how Jesus had changed his life. “I was just sharing a story about my life and how it was changed,” said Kyle Gearwar, the valedictorian at Fair Haven Union High School. “And as an American and as a valedictorian I felt that I should have been able to do that.”

“They told me my speech was going to be a problem – that the school wouldn’t allow me to deliver the speech and they would prevent me from giving the speech if it came down to it,” Gearwar told Fox News Radio.  He said the principal told him to remove anything that “had to do with religion, God, talking about how He can help you. The thing that actually changed me, I couldn’t talk about.”

You can burn a flag but we’re not able to speak about God,” he said. “I just don’t agree with that.”

Brett Blanchard, the principal at Fair Haven Union High School, defended the censorship and said public school must be careful about allowing some to talk about their religion at a school-sanctioned event. “We are absolutely strong supporters of free speech,” Blanchard told Fox News Radio. “The federal law limits the kind of religious speech that’s permitted at a commencement at a public high school.

The issue was whether Gearwar’s speech was a personal testimony of how Jesus Christ changed his life – or if it was an act of proselytizing.

Among the many sentences that the school took offense to was this passage from Gearwar’s speech:

“I have peace and can finally enjoy every moment God has given me, good or bad. I wouldn’t be standing before you without the blessings God has given me through my tough situations. He is the reason I am the man I am today, made new through Jesus death on the cross.”

During the graduation ceremony, several audience members encouraged Gearwar to read the censored and redacted portions of his speech. The Christian teenager declined to do so, explaining that he had given his word to the principal and the assistant principal that he would abide by their decision.

“You’re supposed to respect your authority,” he said. “Even in the Bible it says you should respect the authorities of the land. I wasn’t going to disappoint these men.”

An editorial by the Burlington Free Press, chastised school administrators for “playing it safe.” “The school’s decision says much about how uncomfortable we all have become about discussing religion publicly,” the newspaper wrote. “We should be able to listen to others talk about their faith – those different from our own – without feeling threatened. Instead we live in a sad time when the risk of offending someone also carries the risk of being sued.

I appreciate Gearwar’s respect for his authorities.  I only wish he had been able to tell his story.

DCG

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14 responses to “A Valedictorian Can’t Tell His Story

  1. This sad episode took place in Vermont, the Mississippi of the Northeast.
    Enough said!

     
    • Zorro–I was born and raised in Mississippi. What are you referring to in your statement? I am just curious, and I may or may not agree.

       
  2. If there is any God loving Americans in Vermont,for crying out loud stand up.Vermont is another shithole,for corruption and satanic beliefs.Next to SanFrancisco,Portland,Massachusetts just to name a few.

     
  3. When are the F::::::G morons who made these rules in Washington and state and local governments goinbg to understand the the Constitutions exhorts them to “make no laws” regarding religion???? it ain’t rocket science.

    The twisted interpretations are just an excuse to crap all over everyone

    I’M SICK OF IT

     
  4. “We are absolutely strong supporters of free speech,” Blanchard told Fox News Radio.

    Bullshit.

    Author’s Note: I tried to sugarcoat my response to make it more palatable to the squishy-middle squeamish, as well as for those suffering from perpetual perennial PC disorder, but sometimes that just doesn’t work.

    This was one of those times.

    -Dave

     
  5. Self-inflicted cultural suicide… I doubt that our founding fathers intended freedom of speech to a bludgeon against religion (if only left/libtards used freedom of religion as such a bludgeon in regard to militant islam… oh, wait, they do, in favor of militant islam and anything else is “oppressive” to it and must be suppressed). I’ll bet if Gearwar were muslim and talked about Allah they would’ve insisted he do so out of freedom of speech. But that he found religion (and it’s not a left/liberal-favored faith; i.e., Christianity) is intolerable to ’em. I especially dislike how his manipulative, sack-o’-dung principal and assistant principal are relying on his personal promise to them not to mention G-O-D and not the principle of first amendment in their decision– on the principle of freedom of religion and not favoring one over the other in a public venue, sure; on the principle of obiesance and exploiting someone’s character to suppress faith, they should just have to trust him and feel some anxiety on their end (a responsibility of their cushy job, how they earn their big bucks).

     
  6. Among the many sentences that the school took offense to was this passage from Gearwar’s speech:

    “I have peace and can finally enjoy every moment God has given me, good or bad. I wouldn’t be standing before you without the blessings God has given me through my tough situations. He is the reason I am the man I am today, made new through Jesus death on the cross.”

    That is so offensive! It’s atrocious.

    “I can have peace.” How could he say that? What a horrible thought. “I am blessed.” This one is even worse.

    Really, I understand the minds of these officials. They should be lobotomized.

    I think this is absolute fascism. Americans are sometimes so deformed in their culture, they lose all notion of the most basic common sense. And, yes, ideologues mess with language and concepts, and, golly gee, how they deform it–no good concept is being upheld by this censorship move. This is blatant government censorship of a citizen’s right to speech. Absolutely ridiculous.

    I don’t care if the student wants to talk about how Christianity made him a better man, or Judaism, or taking a hike in Nepal, or being a beekeeper, or rejecting all religions or making pasta with olive oil. It’s his experience. It’s his right to express it and share it.

    http://socimages.blogsome.com/

     
  7. I expect that, any day now, the People’s Socialist Soviet of Vermont will secede from the union. I can hardly wait….

     
  8. I’m wondering why they didn’t do what Texas did and fight for the right to freedom of speech? http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2011/June/Court-Lifts-Texas-Graduation-Prayer-Ban-/

     
  9. The students prayer was to share his experience with his classmates. God did answer the prayer because not only is it now known to the few hundred in attendance, we all have now heard it. Great personal testimony from apparrently a very nice kid. Hope he continues his faith, the foundation of his life with much success. The parents must be proud of raising a fine son.

    As for the administrators of the school, the yellow streaked spineless cowards hinding behind equally worthless lawyers will get their just reward,… the country is being run by f o o l s.

     
  10. cultural suicide i think that remark stated above describes the downward spiral that we as a nation seem to be sliding down.

     

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