Michigan Teen Fights Back After School Bans ‘Jesus Christ’ from Graduation Speech
Religion is an important part of Elizabeth Turner's life and she feels that it's important to give some credit to Jesus Christ as she addresses other graduating seniors. But the Hillsdale High School senior has been told that she needs to keep quiet about her religious beliefs during her valedictorian speech.
With representation from an organization known as First Liberty, Turner has filed a complaint against the school, claiming that they're violating federal law which allows private religious speech at school events. First Liberty contends that Turner's address constitutes "private and legally protected speech" even though it would be delivered in a public forum.
"Student graduation speeches constitute private speech, not government speech, and private speech is not subject to the Establishment Clause," Mike Berry and Keisha Russell, two attorneys with First Liberty tell Fox News.
The draft of Turner's speech, which was nixed by Principal Amy Goldsmith read in part:
"For me, my future hope is found in my relationship with Christ. By trusting in him and choosing to live a life dedicated to bringing his kingdom glory, I can be confident that I am living a life with purpose and meaning. My identity is found by what God says and who I want to become is laid out in scripture."
A screenshot of the speech with the religious references highlighted along with the principal's comments accompanied the complaint.
"You are representing the school in the speech, not using the podium as your public forum," Principal Goldsmith said.