Caught Being Godly: Valedictorian Defies School District’s Ban on Prayer by Praising God!

    Ladies, I wrote a post a while back titled, “Why We Need Christ Now More Than Ever.” In it, I sited a Pew Research Center survey that concluded that more Millennials are losing faith in God.

    I wrote:

    So why are so many young men and women denying or doubting the existence of God?

    Is it because God has been removed from all parts of public life, beginning with public schools? There was a time when children had to pray in school, Christmas was celebrated and God could be mentioned without chastisement. I know, I know. It’s because of the separation of church and state, and political correctness and the expectation to be inclusive. I know.

    Unfortunately, God is constantly being pushed out of schools. One example is at Liberty High School, in South Carolina, where the Pickens County School District decided to ban prayer at all school events, including graduation, because of complaints by atheist and secular groups. But the class of 2013’s valedictorian, Roy Costner IV, decided to take a stand.

    After ripping up his pre-approved speech, Costner did this…

    Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today. I’m so glad that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age (Roy Costner IV).

    Although I’m not one for breaking rules, I found this to be a very brave, inspiring and Godly move. This young man elevated Christ above society, and what a way to take a stand! And the response? I think that the cheers and applause was pretty indicative of how the majority of people felt about the ban on prayer.

    Ladies, what do you think about what Costner did? Would you ever do something similar?

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    T.M. Gaouette
    T.M. Gaouette is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, blogger and fiction novelist. She was born in Africa, brought up in London and is now living in New England with her husband and four children. Devoted to Him, Gaouette is dedicated to glorifying God through her stories for teens and young adults. T.M. Gaouette is the author of "The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch" and "Freeing Tanner Rose," Christian novels for teens and young adults. She's currently working on completing her upcoming novel -visit for more on her Christian fiction work. Connect with her on and .


    1. This made me smile. 🙂 I had found this video before, but it wouldn’t work on my phone. When I found this article, I decided to watch it, expecting some kind of speech about wanting to lift the ban, and that would have been cool and all. But this was really cool and unexpected! And then all of the people started cheering. I’m not one to break the rules either, but I really like what he did there.

    2. It’s cool that he’s standing up for himself. But we need to separate God from schools. It could offend those who are non-religious; not everyone should be forced to listen to a prayer or take part in it. Separation of Church and state is important. Unless you’re a private school, we should keep the two separate. Sure, you can pray in schools if you want, but teacher’s cant teach about Him in school, which makes sense. So I find what he did a little unnecessary.

      • So why should people who don’t pray be forced to hear it? Well why should people who do pray not GET to hear it. The atheists can plug their ears, and the praying people can do stuff like this. The world has this jacked up view of “tolerance.” From the dictionary, tolerance means this:

        “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own”

        In layman’s terms: Openminded. Banning a practice just becasue it might offend someone is not exactly openminded.

        What people see tolerance as is more like, “We must not offend anyone! Therefore, remove God, and any other controversial topics from everything!” Congrats. In you attempt to not offend a small group of people, you offended a huge group.

        “It could offend those who are non-religious; not everyone should be forced to listen to a prayer or take part in it. And oh gosh, we should ban peanut butter from schools too, cause the kids who are allergic might feel bad! And colors, cause not everyone likes the same ones! People need to buck up, and get over themselves. You are going to offend someone, no matter what you do. Praying “offends” the non- Christians, but not praying “offends” the Christians. Its a two way street. Why cater only to one group? People need to learn that not everyone is going to cater to them for the rest of their lives for the sake of “not offending them.”

        This guy is awesome:)

        • How would you like it if someone recited a Buddhist prayer in front of your school? Or a Wiccan chant? It’s the same thing. And your examples cannot compare to what I am trying to say.

          We’re not the only religion in the world. We’re not the only people who think we have the absolute truth and should spread the word.

          I’m not saying banning prayer from schools- you can pray all you want in school. The teachers, however, can’t induce a prayer or teach about God. And God is not meant to be mentioned in such public things like that.

          Just because most of the crowd cheered/didn’t seem offended doesn’t mean that some people weren’t. I, for one, would be offended, because it’s not “standing up for God”, it’s a blatant disrespect of the school’s rules and other beliefs.

        • Rosalynn, i completely understand what you mean by saying “how would we feel if someone recited a Buddhist prayer in front of your school?”…i would be horrified honestly…but, even though he was “breaking the rules” (which i believe prayer should NOT be banned), God called us to spread the gospel and glorify Him…now, maybe it wouldn’t be “fair” to teach about God in a classroom, but what this guy did is perfectly fine, and ppl that openly share their faith are glorifying God in doing so. but you know what? that is the exact problem with this world. if teachers would teach school/science based on the Bible, if ppl openly shared their faith, if prayer was allowed anywhere, if Bibles were allowed all over the world: everything would be right. now, i understand that that’s the point, sin came into the world so not everyone believes the Truth, but even if we cant force someone to accept God’s Truth, we still need to share it. i didn’t see the guy in this video forcing ANYONE to join in his prayer or accept God…he was simply sharing Him, and sharing the fact that he believes in Him. so applebypie123, i pretty much agree with you (though you just stated it kinda differently than i would, but it’s the same basics).

        • The thing is, he was specifically told not to mention God in his speech. It’s a public institution and the Separation of Church and state must be followed. It wasn’t the time or place to bring up such a topic, therefore it was disrespectful and uncalled for.

        • UM, Rosalynn??? you’re missing the point here i think!! if following the rules means never praying or speaking a word about God, then by all means break the rules!! here’s the main (and only) reason i’m confident when i say this: do you think Paul, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, was following the laws when he boldly went and preached in cities where ppl detested God and it was probably illegal to talk about Him/follow Him??? no, he didn’t follow the rules/laws. THAT’S WHY HE WAS IN PRISON SO MUCH. the guy in this video is no different.

        • You have a point, and God did call us to spread the gospel, but there are other religions as well which call them to spread the gospel. We can’t favor one religion over the other.

          What I didn’t like about this guy is that he was basically “preaching”, and reciting Bible verses. When he said, “I’m I’m so glad that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age”, to me it seems discriminatory against those who parents didn’t lead them to God at a young age. I’m okay with people mentioning it a little bit, but what he did was unnecessary- it was like he was trying to preach, which I really don’t appreciate in a setting like that. Sure, there is a time and place for it, but not at a graduation. I found it rude and disruptive.

          By saying prayer was allowed everywhere, do you just mean Christian prayer or any other prayer?

          We DO need to separate God from public schools. Not just God- other beliefs as well. As I said, Separation of Church and state. Not everyone believes in God, and even though we may believe its what God wants, people who don’t believe in God would think otherwise. We’re not the only religion, and we can’t favor Christianity over the other religions by allowing Christian prayers, teachers to teach Christianity, etc. (Though I personally think it would be AMAZING if we could teach all ideologies of how creation began- the athiest, the Christian, the Buddhist, the Wiccan… etc. Except teach them not as fact, but as perceptions and ideologies).

        • As Christians. sharing the gospel and honoring God should be more important to us than following worldly principles.

        • @Rosalynn- You’re asking Christians to consider other Gods? There are no other Gods. The one God that created this world commanded that we “put no other “god” before Him.” You should glorify God, not appease the world with political correctness. He comes first! And let us not forget that this nation was founded “under God.”

        • No kidding tmgaouette! (that this nation was found “under God”)…in my eyes, that is the main thing wrong with this country today…when you think about it, like a 100-200 years ago, when society wasn’t nearly as horrible, all our presidents followed God and encouraged our nation to do so as well…but today, not so much. 🙁

        • (In Reply to other comments)
          This nation was founded under freedom of worshipping whichever way you choose. This is the main reason why the Pilgrims left Europe- because they were told they could only believe a certain way, which was Protestant. There was a time, which is called the Dark Ages, when if you questioned God then you would be killed.

          Let us believe whichever way we want to. The reason this country was established so people could believe whichever way they want to. Because of this, the founding fathers decided to separate Church and State, so what happened in Europe and in the Dark Ages wouldn’t happen again. The principle founding was the Separation of Church and state, because it was the main reason which they fled from Europe. We have to respect the other religions. We can’t just deny what they believe.

          There’s a time and place to preach, but not in a public school institution at a Graduation- a celebration of moving on. People are they to celebrate, not to be preached to, specifically with such a ride range of people.

        • like i said above, i agree it wouldn’t be a bad idea to teach all ideologies of how creation began…but anyways, in THIS situation specifically, he isn’t preaching! seriously, i’m not sure why you keep saying that…like i’ve said, God wants us to share Him, and this guy was simply sharing his faith…i mean, it’s not like he was saying “i’m glad my parents led me to the Lord at a young age, and all you ppl are stupid if you don’t believe in God”, or anything like that…he made a choice to praise the Lord with his graduation speech, and that is perfectly acceptable and a great thing to do.

        • I agree with Mandi Pi, applebypie123, and tmgaouette. I also wanted to reply to what Rosalynn said. I see what you are saying, but as a follower of Christ, you know that He is the only truth. It is okay to listen or allow someone to disagree/have a different viewpoint, but it is not okay to just put away your faith in God because you don’t want to “offend” people. Is it just me or does it seem like it’s only Christ related things that are viewed as threats. Sure, we get to learn about evolution in school but when Christmas time comes around we can’t even call it CHRISTmas. God is being kicked out of schools, yet we wonder why so many shootings and violent acts are occurring in them. There is no right or wrong place to share Christ. He can be shared anywhere. People are going to be offended anyways so you might as well do what’s right.

          Let’s continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who have not found Christ and our school systems and countries.

        • @Rosalynn It was the freedom to worship GOD however they liked. Protestant is still Christian, just a different style from Catholic. That’s why there are so many categories under Protestant.

        • (in response to other comments)

          He’s in no way denouncing or putting away his faith. He was told specifically not to mention anything religious, yet he did. Outright disrespect.

          It’s not just God we ban from our schools, it’s all religions. If a Buddhist went up there and recited a Buddhist prayer, not many would agree with it, either. We’re not the only ones.

          The reason school shootings are “on the rise” is not because God isn’t being allowed in our schools, its because we have the technology to actually document and spread what is happening. Life back then wasn’t “better” at all. In fact, it was worse- women had little rights, African-Americans had almost no rights, and they based those on the Bible. People said we shouldn’t allow others to have rights because the Bible says to have a specific place to women and African-Americans.

          No, it was freedom to worship however you wish. If the tables were switched, and Christianity was the minority (which, it is not), and let’s say Buddhism was the majority, and they said that because their god/gods said so, these rules had to be established, how would you feel?

          If you look at History, especially Thomas Jefferson, he fought for Separation of Church and State because he knew how important it was.

          I choose not to praise this man because what he did was disrespectful and careless. I’d rather see someone helping the children, feeding the poor, than a student blatantly disrespecting the ground rules set out for him.

        • Rosalynn…you keep saying it’s wrong because he broke the rules…but again, i use this argument: in Biblical times, do you think all God’s followers were following the law and being “respectful” to people when they went to non-Christian cities and preached??? do you think people were okay with JESUS HIMSELF preaching all the time??? i somehow don’t think so…that’s why He was made fun of and beaten and crucified. that’s why Paul spent so much of his life being beaten and sitting in prison (and even when Paul was in prison he was praising the Lord, i might add). that’s why so many God-followers were killed for their faith. now, your argument has constantly been that how would i feel if someone recited a Buddhist prayer in their graduation speech, and here is my answer: i would be slightly horrified. but you know, then i would start to think this…WOW, a Buddhist person is brave enough to share his faith in his religion in front of everyone when it’s not allowed, but Christians are too afraid to admit they even believe in God. and i would respect the Buddhist person for having that bravery (even if their religion isn’t true). when did Christians become so very ashamed and afraid to share God, to pray with the risk of being caught, to openly practice their faith in Him?! we as followers of the one true Savior need to step it up…share the great news of Jesus no matter how many people reject us, no matter what it costs us, no matter if we have to break rules that this world has created. you really can’t logically argue (from a Biblical standpoint) that my point here is wrong.

        • Rosalynn please provide biblical evidence that says we should limit our faith and how much we should share it. No offense.

      • It could OFFEND those who are non-religious? What about all the atheists offending us? We’re not allowed to talk about God in school (in a setting where this man did) because it could offend the non-religious, but the non-religious are going around saying “God’s not real, you’re all stupid” and it’s okay? And people think it’s okay because “everyone’s entitled to their own opinion”. Yeah. Everyone but Christians. Anything an atheist has to say about how God “doesn’t exist” is okay because that’s what they believe. But a Christian talking about God is persecuted because we’re supposed to keep our beliefs to ourselves. IT. ISN’T. RIGHT. It’s not fair. All the atheists say “let’s just tolerate everyone’s beliefs and coexist”, but the second someone says something about God, they’re all yelling “stop trying to force your beliefs onto us!” and all that other stuff they say. They’re hypocrites. And it’s time for them to realize that they aren’t the only ones that matter. It’s time for them to realize that we aren’t going to keep quiet about God just because they tell us to. It’s time to stop being punished for loving and sharing the word of God with others.

        • Look, I didn’t mean any offense. It’s just that I get really heated up about this topic. I know it’s been months since you’ve posted that comment, but I just needed to get my opinion out there.

    3. Thanks be to God for the testimony of that young man! He stood up for God against the school’s rules! Even by just saying the Lord’s prayer, he could have planted a seed in someone’s heart! I’m happy to see there still are a few Christians in the public school!

    4. true rosalynn but this was supposed to be a Christian nation…supposed to be I said but yet and still they can ban us from prayer from god…I don’t see them making movies making fun of other faith and serious beliefs…its always against the Christians … not unnecessary very super necessary…prayer is needed so so very badly for our school gov our homes our families and all of the above..

    5. Amen, modern day Daniel, throw me to the lions, throw me in a furnace, I will not deny the Lord Most High.

      Glory be to Our Heavenly Father, YHWH, Jehovah Elyon, Our maker and Our King, ♥

      They’re going to be so ashamed when Jesus shows up in the clouds in the fullness of his glory accompanied by his angels. Until then, we will be like Roy, standing unashamed, never having denied him. Preach it Costner ;D

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