A South Carolina valedictorian stunned a crowd at a high school graduation ceremony after he scrapped his pre-approved remarks and delivered The Lord’s Prayer instead.
Roy Costner, a senior at Liberty High School, thanked his parents for leading him to the Lord and then he set aside his speech.
“I think most of you will understand when I say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…” he said as the crowd began to cheer. By the time he was finished – the approving audience nearly drowned out the 18-year-old’s voice.
He concluded his remarks by pointing his finger in the air — “For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
Costner told FOX Carolina he decided to recite The Lord’s Prayer after meeting with his pastor.
“It was an emotional moment,” Costner told the television station. “It was overwhelming to look out and see the crowd and yelling.”
The school district told local media that Costner would not be punished for delivering the prayer.
The Pickens County School District had been under fire from anti-Christian groups who demanded they cease reciting prayers at public gatherings. The board banned Christian prayers at public gatherings – replacing them with non-sectarian prayers. But that might not be enough to appease the out-of-town protesters.
“The Freedom From Religion Foundation is unhappy with our new policy of non-sectarian prayer. Clearly we have a legal disagreement there,” board member Alex Saitta told the Pickens Sentinel. “We believe prayer at the start of deliberative bodies such as a school board, county council or state legislature has its roots in the first session of the US Congress.”
“It is a 200-plus year tradition that I support. Our new policy of a non-sectarian prayer is constitutional as well as in line with state law, and we believe the state of South Carolina stands alongside that of the Pickens County School Board on this issue,” Saitta said.