‘God be glorified’: graduate wins after another Michigan school tries to censor religious remarks

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A Michigan student, who was selected to deliver a speech at her school’s evening of honors, will now be allowed to include comments on her Christian faith during prayer.

The news comes after the First Liberty Institute sent a letter to Principal John Glenn High School in Westland, demanding that senior Savannah Lefler be allowed to speak openly during her remarks.

After reviewing a draft of Savannah’s speech, school principal Michael Wegher told the student that he believed his speech was too “Christianized” and that educational institutions “cannot promote a religion compared to others”.

Lawyers for First Liberty have informed school officials that imposing restrictions on someone’s speech violates their First Amendment rights.

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“This is unconstitutional discrimination from a point of view of allowing graduation speeches of students who discuss various philosophies or worldviews, but to prohibit speech that focuses on the own worldview of students. the student because he is religious, ”the legal group said in a statement.

In response, the school said it would make a “one-time, non-negotiable waiver of control” and allow Savannah to recite her speech freely. A disclaimer would be included, stating that the speech was not approved by the school.

“We are grateful that Savannah is allowed to freely express her religious point of view in her remarks,” said Stephanie Taub, senior counsel for the First Liberty Institute. “(She) is thrilled to be able to celebrate with her classmates without being censored. As we look forward to next year, we encourage other students to stand up for their First Amendment rights.”

The older graduate was delighted to learn that her speech was no longer censored and that she could publicly share her Christian perspective.

“God be glorified in the situation,” Savannah said. “I am grateful that I can share my faith in Christ with my classmates and pray that this never happens to another student in the future.”

And Taub pointed out that banning speech that focuses on a student’s personal worldview, just because they’re religious, is unacceptable.

“How many more graduations must be wasted before school officials learn that the First Amendment protects student remarks during graduation?” she asked. “The Constitution protects students from overriding their religious point of view during a graduation speech. We urge school officials in the Wayne-Westland community to obey the law and allow religious speeches by students at graduation-related events. “

Meanwhile, another Michigan high school principal who tried to censor a graduate’s farewell speech because of his Christian faith also reversed the course, according to First Liberty.

In a press release last week, Hillsdale High School announced it would allow Elizabeth Turner to speak about her Christian faith during her speech next month.

“We are grateful to the school officials for moving quickly to ensure that religious students can freely exercise their right to express their faith in a graduation speech,” said First Liberty attorney Keisha. Russell. “Elizabeth is delighted to be able to celebrate her graduation without being censored. We hope that future graduates will be freed from religious censorship.”

Turner, for her part, said she was “grateful to be able to share my faith with my classmates, and I pray that God will use this situation to advance his kingdom.”


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