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EDITORIAL: ‘A child shall lead them’

Defiant valedictorians thank God, anyway

Better late than never. Public-school administrators in Joshua, Texas, apologized Thursday to Remington Reimer, the valedictorian at Joshua High, two weeks after his microphone was silenced when he departed from his prepared remarks to express his dedication to God, free speech and the U.S. Constitution.

Young Mr. Reimer began with the obligatory words of gratitude to family, teachers and friends. He talked of persevering in the face of adversity in life and stressed the importance of finishing the race and finishing well. None of this was anything out of the ordinary, but then he thanked God "for sending His only Son to die for me and the rest of the world." He said he had been warned the day before that the microphone might be turned off if he went off script. And that's what happened. His classmates gave him a standing ovation.

School administrators were humiliated and irate. The young man told Fox News that the principal threatened to interfere with his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, but the Liberty Institute, based in Plano, Texas, sued the school, seeking an apology. The institute's litigation director, Hiram Sasser, was satisfied that the apology, when it finally arrived, was sincere.

The weekend before Remington went rogue, another valedictorian, Roy Costner IV, similarly expressed his religious beliefs at the commencement at Liberty High School in Liberty, S.C. Obsessive secularists had pressured the local school district to bar graduation prayers. Mr. Costner ripped up his approved commencement text and recited the Lord's Prayer. The audience erupted into loud cheers and applause, and a video of the text-tearing and prayer went viral on the Internet. This time the school did not interfere, and no one in Liberty fainted. The school board attempted no sanctions.

The president of the student body of Lincoln County High School in Kentucky, defying a handful of students who insisted that no one mention God, invited his classmates to join him in a voluntary prayer. "I would like to thank you with a prayer," Jonathan Hardwick told the audience. "If you would like to join me, you may." Many did, with cheers and a standing ovation. Nobody in Lincoln County fainted, either. The school's common-sensical principal told the Huffington Post that Jonathan's First Amendment rights enabled him to include a prayer in his speech.

School administrators in Joshua could learn a thing or two from their colleagues in Kentucky and South Carolina. Secularists praise themselves for their tolerance, forbearance, sensitivity and compassion, but in the event they often try to impose their beliefs, or lack of belief, on everyone else.

A single complaint sometimes silences mention of God or "a higher power." This is tyranny of the minority. Constitutional rights don't stop at the schoolhouse door. Speech codes have no place in graduation ceremonies, schools or anywhere else in a nation founded on the liberation of the mind and the tongue. This is a lesson that school administrators should learn, even if they have to learn it on the last day of school.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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