This graduation season, The Blaze has covered a number of stories about the limitations that have been placed on students' commencement garments and public prayer rights. Now add a ban on explaining how God changed your life to the list.
Kyle Gearwar, the valedictorian of Fair Haven Union High School in Fair Haven, Vermont, says that he was told by school officials that he couldn't include specific information about how God has changed his life in his commencement address.
Gearwar told the crowd during his ceremony last Friday that he was only allowed to deliver half of the speech he had wanted to. The Burlington Free Press has more:
“It is a fine line here. Here’s freedom of speech and here’s separation of church and state,” Fair Haven Union High School principal Brett Blanchard said. “The line is generally the difference between proselytizing and personalizing.”
Gearwar was allowed to mention God and Jesus in the accepted portion of his speech, Blanchard noted, but he said public schools have to be careful about allowing someone to preach their religion at a school-sanctioned event.
Gearwar claims that he isn't interested in setting off a firestorm or engaging in the infamous church versus state debate. The former student said he had simply hoped his words would help others. According to the Free Press, he told the audience:
“I have always dreamed of speaking about God in front of my school as the valedictorian,” he said in his speech. “This was the message God gave to me, and I am not allowed to share it with you even though it is my testimony, the most important change my life has ever experienced, and the one thing that I stand for no matter what."
Since the incident, the entire text of the speech has been published by The Rutland Herald. Among the likely controversial words is the following:
I wouldn't be standing before you without the blessings God has given me through my tough situations. He is the reason I am the man I am today, made new through Jesus death on the cross.
Watch below for more from CBN News:
To recap other recent Blaze stories about graduation crackdowns: two students were told they couldn't wear Army sashes, a Marine was told she couldn't wear her uniform during her ceremony, Texas students were almost forbidden from praying by their school district and the ACLU forced a district in New Jersey to cover religious symbols during commencement.