Johanna Dasteel


High school valedictorian rips up approved speech, prays forbidden prayer at commencement

Johanna Dasteel

LIBERTY, SC, June 6, 2013 ( – A high school valedictorian defied the rules and recited a prayer during his speech to fellow graduates on Saturday.

Roy Costner IV tore up his school-approved speech once he reached the podium and began speaking about his parents “leading him to the Lord” at a young age, adding, “I think most of you will understand when I say… 'Our Father who art in Heaven….'”

Costner recited The Lord's Prayer, which met with the enthusiastic applause of his peers and their parents.

The new Pickens County School District rule barring prayer at school events came under threat of lawsuit after the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed complaints regarding Christian prayers that were regularly recited at school board meetings.

The FRRF had already pursued a legal case against a school district in Lexington County, SC.

The ACLU sent FOIA requests to every school district in the state of South Carolina last year seeking information about the religious activities taking place in their respective districts.

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