The Christian hating libs have struck again! It’s funny how they never make the Muslims do crap like this.
Diploma withheld until she apologized for declaring Christian faith
A high school valedictorian is suing a Colorado school district because she was forced to publicly apologize for declaring her Christian faith and inviting students to respond to the Gospel in a speech at her graduation ceremony.
Erica Corder, who graduated from Lewis-Palmer High School near Colorado Springs in 2006, alleges in a First Amendment lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel that the school violated her civil rights.
Corder says officials withheld her diploma until she issued an apology, and the school “continues to portray her as a student who engaged in improper conduct because she mentioned Jesus Christ during her speech.”
District spokeswoman Robin Adair, Supt. Raymond Blanch and Board President Jes Raintree did not return phone messages, according to the local newspaper, the Gazette. But the paper reported Adair said in an e-mail the district had reviewed the situation.
“We are confident that all actions taken by school officials were constitutionally appropriate. As a result, we intend to vigorously defend the claims,” the e-mail said.
The action contends Corder’s First Amendment rights of free speech were violated when school officials “refused to present her with her diploma unless she issued an apology for mentioning Jesus Christ.” It alleges a violation of the 14th Amendment right to equal protection because officials treated religious speech “differently” than nonreligious speech.
Liberty Counsel said before graduation in May 2006, Principal Mark Brewer told the valedictorians they could choose one student to speak, or all 15 could deliver 30-second messages. The students chose to all participate and picked a general topic for each speaker. Corder and one other student were assigned to deliver concluding messages.
The law firm said each valedictorian gave a proposed speech to the principal ahead of the graduation. Then during her 30-second message, Corder added some comments about her faith in Jesus.
“We are all capable of standing firm and expressing our own beliefs, which is why I need to tell you about someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine. He died for you on a cross over 2,000 years ago, yet was resurrected and is living today in heaven. His name is Jesus Christ. If you don’t already know him personally I encourage you to find out more about the sacrifice he made for you so that you now have the opportunity to live in eternity with him.”
After the graduation ceremony, she was escorted to see an assistant principal, who told her she would not get her diploma because of her speech.
Principal Brewer said her comments were “immature” and advised her she only would get her diploma if she apologized to the “school community,” Liberty Counsel said.
Because she feared the school actually would withhold her diploma and that officials would put disciplinary notes in her file and generate negative publicity that could affect her plans to become a teacher, she wrote a statement that the message was her own and not endorsed by the principal.
Then Brewer demanded she include the words: “I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did,” Liberty Counsel said.
Corder and her parents met several times with school officials, without resolution, and Liberty Counsel eventually wrote to the school on their behalf, explaining the First Amendment violations and requesting an apology from the district for the forced e-mail.
“The school board has thus far taken no remedial steps. Meanwhile, Erica continues to be the subject of public criticism from school officials,” the lawsuit said.
“Valedictorians have the right to express their religious viewpoints while at the graduation podium,” said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law. “School officials have no right to threaten young graduates that their diplomas will be withheld. The school district’s action in forcing Erica Corder to write an e-mail apologizing to the community for exercising her right to free speech is shocking.”
Corder, 19, now is a student at Illinois’ Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school. She told the Gazette she wants the district to understand what happened to her was wrong.
Her father, Steven, said the lawsuit was a last resort, after the district declined to respond to any other requests.
“Really, our hope is that any valedictorian would know clearly that they can speak about what is important to them,” he told the newspaper. “It’s really so that the Constitution can be turned to as the governing document in this type of situation.
On the Gazette’s forum, a reader wrote, “Good for you Erica! I hope you win your case! I’m sick and tired of how we’re told that we must kowtow to every liberal fragment of society …. But it’s becoming more and more acceptable to declare open season on Christians.”
It’s wierd how the Separation of Church and State only applies to Christians. It’s almost like they made the whole Separation thing up.
…oh yeah, they did.
Blogs at Orbys.net
Freedom of speech is becoming very selective as is separation of church and state. Burning a flag or placing a religious icon in a bottle of urine is freedom of speech. We build foot baths and support private Islamic schools etc. to make Muslims feel welcome.
I am outraged. Muslims who come here are free to worship however they want, but don’t tell me I have to do it the same way. If this girl had been Muslim and made a religious statement, there would have been no media attention.
Does this mean that at colleges and universities which get state and federal funds, guest speakers are not allowed to mention faith? Can they say the pledge of allegiance? If this girl would have said the pledge with the line “under God” would she have had her diploma withheld?
Nah, this is bureaucratic fear being demonstrated by the school board. Freedom of religion means being allowed to admit one’s religion and practice it publicly without fear of retribution from the state. These people are idiots. Give her her diploma and moveback to MoveOn.org.
Not only that Scott, this IS the state of our educational system that has been broken for far too long.
If she makes this speech in 90% of the college’s, she gets booed off the stage. So sad.
She might have a title VII civil rights act violation to file against the school. Think discrimination.
Classic CYA on the part of the school officials. I don’t think you could argue that Christians are more discriminated against on this basis, but it’s obvious that the administrators, like all bureaucrats, are cowards. Hopefully their CYA turns around and bites them in the ass.
Rocky Mountain News: Education:
Corder said she planned the remarks for months but did not tell school officials or the other 14 speakers, who had cooperated on drawing up a speech and who each took a part in presenting it. Corder went last.
Corder did not include her comments about Jesus when they rehearsed in front of Principal Mark Brewer.
She said she was sorry she had not told the principal or other speakers of her plans, but she did not apologize for what she said.
She told The Gazette in Saturday’s editions she believed God had called on her to make the remarks.
“I think he (God) just wanted to plant that seed, I guess,” she said.
She said she kept her plans secret so she would not have to disobey any instructions not to make her comments.
Why does it so often happen that God wants you to do the crime, but doesn’t want you to face the consequences? (Of course, maybe God sent the lawyer her way, too…)
I find it curious that students across the country can call Bush a murderer and a tyrant but dare to mention God and you are booed, you get your diploma taken away, you are forced to apologize.
This is the state of our schools and its disgusting. No wonder our society has gotten so bad. Our schools let kids out who can barely read and write but they damn well know not to mention God.
I would suggest a contest to help out and see who can write the most aggressive nonapology using the mandatory phrase.
(smile of innocence)