It wasn’t the Declaration of Independence. It wasn’t the bombing of Berlin. But as smackdowns go, a South Carolina high school valedictorian’s standoff against the Pickens County School District and a bunch of trucked-in atheists was pretty memorable.
As an honors student, Roy Costner IV of Liberty High School is used to all sorts of awards and accolades. But the best one he ever got was the one he received Saturday from the audience at Liberty’s graduation: a standing ovation after he tore up his prepared speech and recited the Lord’s Prayer in defiance of a school board ban on prayers at graduation.
The prayer-ban story is one we’ve heard many times before. A group of liberal atheists hell-bent on promoting their own religion got a lawyer and used a bunch of doublespeak about the First Amendment to intimidate everyone else, mostly those darn Christians, into shutting up.
The usual culprits were involved: the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is one of the most prominent anti-Christian hate groups in America these days, right alongside the Southern Poverty Law Center.
It’s doublespeak because the atheists in these cases hide behind the First Amendment, proclaiming themselves victims who are being left out, singled out, bullied, harassed and even made physically ill because somebody said a prayer, wore a Jesus t-shirt, hung a 10 Commandments poster or put up a cross. The reality is they are the bullies who are intolerant of the feelings and beliefs of those around them.
There have been enough cases where some liberal judge went along with the twisting of the First Amendment so that Christians across the land have been forced to watch their contributions to the country they love being erased, defaced, defiled, disparaged and removed from public view and the pages of history.
The irony is that American atheists only exist because of Christian tolerance for other beliefs. If not for that, atheists would have only communist countries as safe havens for their religion. Don’t think that’s true? Go find a group of atheists in Saudi Arabia and ask them how things are going.
Christians are not perfect, but on the whole they are extremely tolerant of other ideas held by respectful people.
But there are limits to everyone’s patience, and a lot of Christians are tired of being bullied.
That was clearly expressed during Liberty High School’s graduation when Costner pointed to the sky and shouted, “For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
Brian Hoover, who attended the ceremony, said, “You couldn’t even hear him doing the prayer anymore because everybody was clapping and cheering.”
If atheists want to live and let live, most people are fine with that. But that means they have to start practicing tolerance and being respectful if someone who doesn’t share their beliefs wants to say a prayer or put up a Christmas tree. In return, atheists can sport all the Darwin fish t-shirts and bumper stickers they like.
The alternative is a religious war. Maybe that’s what atheists think they want. It worked in Russia and China, when it was armed atheist troops against unarmed peasants.
In contrast, this is still the land of the rugged pioneer and the cowboy. Colonial ministers were often known for keeping a gun at the pulpit when they preached about liberty, and many old-time men of the cloth were adept with weapons. Atheists might want to remember that.
We American Christians may not be perfect, but we know how to shoot back.