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THE COURAGE OF SHANNON WRAY


After winning a hard fought battle over an attempt to censor religious

references from her speech, Shannon Wray delivered her non-censored

salutatorian speech on Friday during the Hollidaysburg Area High School graduation ceremony. Shannon was represented by Mat Staver, Erik Stanley, and Joel Oster of Liberty Counsel, a Religious Civil Liberties Legal Defense Organization, in her fight against the censorship of her speech.


By graduating as salutatorian, Shannon earned the opportunity to give a speech during the graduation ceremony. The school asked Shannon to

speak about the past, including how friendships helped her get through

high school. Shannon is a dedicated Christian, and she felt that she

could not give the speech without talking about how her best friend,

Jesus Christ, helped her through school.


In the speech, Shannon said, "He, even more so than the people I love, has been there every day, never forcing me to do anything, but always encouraging me to stretch my limits and strive for the best He has to offer. His name is Jesus; He is my greatest friend." She went on to say, "It is because of Him that I have achieved and succeeded, and, no matter how much knowledge Hollidaysburg High has bestowed upon me, I would know nothing if I didn’t know Him."


The school, after reading a copy of Shannon’s speech, censored the above statements, and prohibited Shannon from making other religious

references in her speech. Liberty Counsel then contacted the school,

and informed the school that censoring Shannon’s speech of religious

content violated the Establishment Clause, Free Speech Clause, and the

Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the United States Constitution. On the eve of filing a Temporary Restraining Order in Federal Court against the school, the school agreed to not censor Shannon’s speech.


SOURCE: the Editors of ReligionToday, Tuesday, June 11, 2002.

Citation: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Embassy/7954/

salutorian.html


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