LEBANON, Mo. – A Missouri principal has found a way to talk about God and prayer during high school graduation ceremony without running afoul of the (oft-misunderstood) separation of church and state rule.
During his greeting speech to students and the audience, Lebanon High School Principal Kevin Lowery offered a brief history lesson about the Almighty’s role in the American story and followed it with a moment of silence.
Here’s what Lowery told the graduates, according to a video of his speech that’s been posted on YouTube:
“ … I’d like to remind our graduates that our nation’s motto is, in fact, ‘In God We Trust.’ If you’re ever in doubt, just take a quick look at our nation’s currency and you’ll find out for yourself.
“A similar phrase appears in the final stanza of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ Written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key and later adopted as the U.S. National Anthem on March 3, 1931 by U.S. President Herbert Hoover, the song contains in early records (to have a) variation of this phrase: ‘And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”’
“In one of the most famous sentences in American History, taken from our Declaration of Independence, reads, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’
“This passage has come to represent a moral standard to which the United States should always strive. And even though God is reflected in the very fabric of our nation, we are told that it is inappropriate and even illegal to mention God at high school graduations, let alone say a prayer.
“So while it would not be politically correct for us to have an official prayer this evening, I would like for us to have a moment of silence in honor of tonight’s graduates.”
After the moment of silence was completed, Lowery took a moment to share with the audience how he had used quiet time:
“ … (D)uring my moment of silence, I gave thanks to God for these great students, their parents, their teachers, and for this community. … I asked God to protect these students as they go their separate ways into the world. I asked God to avail Himself in every possible way. And I asked God to watch over them, to protect them, and to bless them with self-fulfillment, with compassion, inner peace, and personal prosperity.
“Thank you for indulging the thoughts I had during my moment of silence. And yes, God is still important, and let us not ever forget it.”
Instead of being horrorstricken that Lowery had invoked the name of God during a public school graduation ceremony, the audience vigorously applauded his remarks. They were probably applauding him for his personal courage, too.
Traditional Americans – meaning those who believe the United States is inherently good and worth preserving – are hungry for leaders like Lowery who are willing to stand up to the progressive, politically correct bullies who want to remake the nation into a totally secular and atheistic society.
Predictably, Lowery has drawn criticism from atheist bloggers who – it’s worth noting – were not personally harmed or inconvenienced one iota by the principal’s remarks. But even some critics who panned Lowery’s comments as “inappropriate” don’t think he did anything illegal.
“I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t believe (the comments were a violation of the First Amendment),” writes “Friendly Atheist” blogger Hemant Mehta. “Lowery didn’t actually ask everyone to pray or make any explicitly Christian references.”
It appears Lowery has found a way to talk publicly about God and prayer in a way that will keep the ACLU lawyers at bay. Maybe Lowery’s bravery will inspire other school leaders to take a stand in the intensifying culture wars.
And maybe the principal’s courage will even rub off on some of our mousy political leaders who promise to defend this nation and its religious-based heritage.
Those who do take a stand for traditional values will probably be supported by the majority of citizens who still sing “God Bless America” and mean it.