Sunday, May 30, 2010

A valedictorian’s speech to school-prayer-enabling students

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Separation of Church and State
Separation of Church and State

Last March, Greenwood High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, decided to put the possibility of a school-sponsored graduation prayer up to student vote. Because these days, you can just vote away the legality of an issue, apparently. Thankfully, the school’s valedictorian, 18-year-old Erik Workman, sued to stop this blatant violation of the Establishment Clause and succeeded in getting the nincompoop administrators to drop the endorsement. Instead, they chose to let the students include mentions of God and religiousness in their own speeches, which would then not be screened in a sneaky yet legal attempt to circumvent any Separation of Church and State issues.

During his valedictory address, Workman decided to talk about – naturally – the importance of upholding the Establishment Clause and his fight to do so at Greenwood High in opposition to the legally-deficient administrators’ actions. Hemant Mehta got a copy of Workman’s speech transcript, part of which I am reposting here. You seriously gotta admire the volume and mass of this guy’s ballz.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” I have never fallen short of President Jefferson’s credo in this respect, as I am sure you are aware. You may not agree with my decision to fight for civil liberties, but I expect you to respectfully listen while I elucidate. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This implies that no entity, agent, or facet (however subsidiary) of the government is to ever endorse, promote, or encourage any form of religion or religious doctrine. This, as you may or may not know, includes school-sponsored prayer.

In September of last year, our remarkably doltish administration called upon us all to vote in deciding whether or not we wanted the Constitution of the United States to be flagrantly violated. Understanding the law and knowing right from wrong, I vehemently opposed such an atrocious act from ever taking place. However, my one voice and the voices of others were shouted-down by most of you. Our rights and the law were disregarded. You see, subjecting government-endorsed prayer to a majority rule is, in and of itself, unconstitutional, let alone the government approbation of said prayer. […] Founding Father Thomas Jefferson is quoted as having said, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in [most] cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate [them] would be oppression.”

Individual freedoms were subjugated, the United States Constitution was omitted, and most of you were unfazed. I, however, was fazed — I, however, took action to redress this grievance. On March 11th, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on my behalf to legally halt any and all school-sanctioned prayer at tonight’s commencement ceremony. On April 30th, Federal District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an injunction to do just that. In her ruling, Judge Barker stated that “the degree of school involvement ma[de] it clear that [any graduation] prayer [would] ‘bear the mark of the state,’ and accordingly [transgress] the Constitution.” I solemnly hope that you all do understand that the Greenwood Community School Corporation had its hand in this from the beginning, that the Greenwood Community School Corporation thought (and still likely thinks) it was and is above the law, and that neither the Greenwood Community School Corporation nor any other government entity is above the law. In challenging my lawsuit, the Greenwood Community School Corporation accrued a debt of legal fees and court costs to the ACLU, totaling approximately $18,000. For the School Corporation’s legal representation, you can expect the debt to be exorbitantly greater.

He seems to take himself a little too seriously at times; but then, as I firmly believe, the need for humility goes out the window when you’re right, which is all that counts. And Erik Workman certainly was correct in every single one of his points, stated much clearly – and with rather more gusto – than I would’ve dared. Maybe.

And the best part of all? Erik Workman is an avowed Christian. Not a crucial revelation, certainly, but interesting to note nonetheless.

Be sure to read the rest of his speech over at Friendly Atheist; you can also find videos of the address, here. Finally (and perhaps least), just take a look at this comment by Sheila Lawrence over at FA. The very second sentence: “Workman is a sociopath and I just felt lucky that he didn’t blow the place up with all of us in it.” Ah, the beauty of the Christian mind.

(via Friendly Atheist)