Friday, February 26, 2010
Court Says School Can Insist Valedictorian Remove Religious References From Talk
A Montana trial court this week upheld the action of Butte High School officials in refusing to let one of the class' ten valedictorians speak at her 2008 graduation when she refused to remove religious references from her remarks. Yesterday's Billings Gazette reports that officials asked Renee Griffith to replace the words "Christ and his joy" with "my faith" and "from God with a passionate love for him" with the words "derived from my faith and based on a love of mankind." The court concluded that the school board policy barring religious references in graduation speeches is a policy applied even handedly to all students in order to maintain the religious neutrality required by the Establishment Clause. Griffith's attorney plans to appeal the decision to the Montana Supreme Court, arguing that Griffith was not going to be speaking on the school's behalf, but wanted to express her own personal beliefs.