In an earlier post I mentioned that thanks to my close personal relationship with the good old almighty I am receiving instructions from the big man. He told me that I am to share the story of the foolish high school girl with you.
As she stepped to the microphone to give her commencement speech last spring, Erica Corder knew that what she was about to say might ruffle some feathers.
But the 2006 Lewis Palmer High School graduate ? one of 15 valedictorians who addressed the crowd ? didn’t believe she had a choice.
“I really felt God calling me to do this,” Corder said Thursday. “My top priority is obeying God.”
G-d told me to tell you that you’re making this up as you go along. You knew full well that you would get in trouble. He is quite angry that you’re wasting time and money to try and prosecute a losing case.
So Erica Corder thanked all the teachers, parents and peers in the crowd for their encouragement over the years.
Then, deviating from the 30-second speech that had been approved by the principal, she began speaking about “someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine.”
“His name is Jesus Christ,” Corder said. “If you don’t already know Him personally I encourage you to find out more about the sacrifice He made for you …”
The approximately 30-second speech sparked an immediate controversy.
Parents and students including some of her fellow valedictorians complained that Corder had been proselytizing, and that her comments were inappropriate for the occasion. She also took heat from school officials for deviating from the pre-approved script.
Now that the moment has passed and I am back to being me I’ll insert my own commentary. This is not a typical free speech case. We could spend time talking about why public schools are not subject to the same rules as other places or why free speech is not absolute.
But the thing is that we really don’t have to go there. She knew in advance that she was going to create a problem. She knew that what she wanted to do was out of line. Call it civil disobedience, call it ignorant. The bottom line is that she knew it wasn’t approved and she did it anyway.
Now Corder is fighting back.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court this week, Corder says the Monument high school violated her rights to free speech and equal protection.
Corder’s father, Steve, said Thursday the Corders are not seeking money other than attorney fees.
This irritates me on multiple levels. As a father you should teach your children to take responsibility for their actions. This doesn’t do so. It was clear in advance that she knew that there might be consequences to her actions.
The district has a written policy titled “Student Expression Rights,” according to the lawsuit. It prohibits expression that, among other things, is disruptive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous or threatens violence. It does not specifically prohibit religious speech, the lawsuit states.
The 15 valedictorians agreed before commencement that each person would speak for 30 seconds. Two people did the introduction, while others spoke about each year of high school. Corder and another student were tabbed to conclude the speeches.
Corder said the valedictorians had only a few days to prepare their speeches before they practiced them for the principal, Mark Brewer.
She knew she wanted to honor God in her remarks, but she didn’t do so in her practice speech because she knew there was a chance Brewer would prohibit the comments, and because she didn’t think there would be enough time to work through the issue with him, she said (Emphasis mine)
You knew that there would be consequences. You knew that there would be trouble but you did it anyway. And all that happened was a little slap on the hand. You had to issue a written apology for your actions. Big deal.
Reference: Prayer in School