Angela Hildenbrand, valedictorian of the 2011 class at Medina Valley High School near San Antonio, Texas, was threatened with jail were she to pray during her graduation ceremony address.
A family upset with having anything religiously-related in the graduation exercises got a U.S. District Judge to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the school from having an invocation, a benediction, and any prayer during any other aspect of the graduation ceremony.
Angela understood that the First Amendment guarantees her God-given right to bring her faith to every sphere of life, not just the confines of a church building. So, she contacted FRC’s friends at the Liberty Institute to help her both honor God and avoid arrest.
Then-Gov. Rick Perry and then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, Perry’s successor, called for Angela to be allowed to pray, as did untold numbers of Texans dismayed that a lovely young woman was being silenced at her own graduation. The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed and overturned the District Judge’s decision, saying that Angela could, indeed, pray.
And she did: As she prayed during her remarks, “God, I thank you for the gift of your Son and for the forgiveness that surpasses all understanding. And most of all, I thank you for your great love for us, and for our great nation, where we are free. And it’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Amen, Angela. Amen.