June 13, 2017
At Beaver High School in Pennsylvania, students can invite anyone they want to graduation -- except God. Moriah Bridges found that out when she wanted to thank Him during her speech. "Lord, surround us with grace and favor everywhere we go," she told Fox News's Todd Starnes she wanted to pray. "Soften our hearts to teach us love and compassion, to show mercy and grace to others the way that you showed mercy and grace to us, even to the ultimate sacrifice. Help us love our brothers and our sisters deeply. Lead us to bless them."
Moriah may have offered that prayer in her mind, but district officials barred her from speaking it at the ceremony on June 2. Principal Steven Wellendorf informed the teenager that she could still address her class, but that she could not do it "in a style of a prayer and most certainly may not recite a prayer that excludes other religions [by invoking Jesus's name]." It should have been the happiest day of her life, she said to Todd. Instead it was the beginning of a legal battle she should have never had to fight.
With help from First Liberty Institute, Moriah hopes to teach her school a little something about the Constitution. "The last lesson this school district taught its students is that they should hide their religious beliefs from public view," said attorney Jeremy Dys. "School officials, in violation of the First Amendment, forced Moriah to [silence] her personal remarks during the closing exercise of her commencement ceremony, merely because of the religious viewpoint of her remarks." There comes a time when Christians need to stand up. And for Moriah, that time is now. See, praying in public is legal. It's censoring speech that's not. Thank goodness for young people who stand for what's right when the adults around them won't. In my book No Fear: Real Stories of a Courageous Generation Standing for Truth, I introduce you to several of them. Consider giving a copy to a teenager you know. It just might inspire them to live out their faith with a boldness that changes their life -- and others'!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.