California School Faces Lawsuit After Censoring Bible Reference from Graduation Speech

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by KEN KLUKOWSKI -Breitbart News

660-Brooks-HambyBRAWLEY – Local school officials in California censored the graduation speech of a Christian student, telling him “reference to religious content is inappropriate and… will not be allowed” and threatening to cut off his microphone if he expressed his faith in Jesus Christ.

Now the student’s lawyers are demanding an apology or they will sue in federal court.

Brooks Hamby was the salutatorian this year at Brawley Union High School. He is a committed Christian who wanted in his speech to give God credit for the blessings in his life and to quote the Bible’s instruction for people to be “the salt of the earth”—that is, a humble, constructive, honorable, and wholesome member of society.

School officials demanded he submit his speech to them beforehand for approval. He did, and it was rejected because he included words of prayer thanking God “for the immense opportunities and blessings you have provided us throughout our lives” and asking God to bless all of his classmates with wisdom and success.

They also rejected his second draft, because he still included a reference to Jesus Christ, and then his third, because it was still “too religious” and contained the word “Bible.”

Finally, he gave his fourth version, substituting for “Bible” a reference to “the bestselling book of all time.” Even this was too much for some militant secularists, and Hamby faces the possibility of a negative mark on his final record.

Hamby has retained Texas-based Liberty Institute to represent him, and his lawyer spoke exclusively with Breitbart News.

“Censoring a top student and threatening to turn off his microphone mid-speech just because he references his faith is a bullying tactic that a school superintendent should never use,” says Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys. “The Supreme Court has made clear that students do not surrender their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate—or the graduation ceremony.”

Liberty Institute is demanding a meeting with the school superintendent followed by a formal public apology to Hamby exonerating him of any wrongdoing. They also want a promise that Brawley Union High School will make the necessary policy changes to ensure this unconstitutional censorship never happens again.

Dys added that he hopes students across the nation know that legal help is available to protect their constitutional rights. “Students should never rely on the legal advice of their school’s attorney when they are threatened with censorship. They need to call Liberty Institute and let us help defend and restore their religious liberty,” Dys concluded.

View letter to school here

14 COMMENTS

  1. I am not a lawyer. I have experienced discrimination and the first time was over 35 years ago when I applied for a job, was the top rated person by the committee and didn’t get it because of politics. I wasn’t a Christian at that time. Discrimination is a fact of life, more for minorities, but today, it is happening to Christians more and more. It is OK to get a lawyer, to stand up, not just for yourself, but the next person who is getting treated unfairly. I don’t know the law, but I have heard school administrators say “I don’t care what the law says.” I like it when people stand up for their rights. Forgiving is just one aspect of being a Christian. We are not to be doormats or punching bags. Jesus cleared the temple, so it all right to say “Sorry, what you did was wrong and I am not going to ignore it.” It is sad when free speech by a Christian is made into such a big issue. If a valedictorian were to say they were gay, it would make many people uncomfortable, but it wouldn’t be censored. The playing field should be level, but it is not. It is level at the foot of the cross though. If you don’t believe me, go check it out!

    • How about doing it the Christian way….follow the rules just like those before you and go on with life without leaving dirt behind.

      • He follows Republican Jesus, not Middle Eastern Jesus…the one who walked the earth. See you this upcoming football season insider.

        • 2014 IVL Football will be very predictable….Brawley will dominate, Central and Imperial ( D-1 ), poor Imperial, will fight it out for 2nd. Holtville will keep progressing, while Calipatria will surprise with their brand new all-sports complex.

    • I keep on hearing how Brook’s Handler’s say that the Community is in back of them. I would say to a point they were….but now it’s more like 15%.

  2. […] Local school officials in California censored the graduation speech of a Christian student, telling him “reference to religious content is inappropriate and… will not be allowed” and threatening to cut off his microphone if he expressed his faith in Jesus Christ. Now the student’s lawyers are demanding an apology or they will sue in federal court. Brooks Hamby was the salutatorian this year at Brawley Union High School. He is a committed Christian who wanted in his speech to give God credit for the blessings in his life. [Read more] […]

  3. Shouldn’t he forgive and not file a lawsuit? Thats not very christian like. He also wants to be a lawyer, that seems like a motive for him to make a big deal about this case to give him some attention in the media.

    • As a Christian, I’m sure he will forgive them. Forgiveness does not mean you are exempt from consequences. He is showing great leadership in righting a wrong and making sure that this poor policy is not perpetuated on another student.

      • What about all the students and others in attendance that are NOT of the Christian religion? Is he thinking about them when giving his thanks? This policy is not about silencing a religion, as others have made it seem. It is about making sure that everyone is included in this graduation. It’s a day for Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, and any other religion that is present. By giving this heavily Christian speech, he is telling everyone in attendance that my religion is better than yours. Good for the school for not allowing a religious speech to demean anyone there l.

      • He should save his money because the school district is in the right on this one.

        A school district’s refusal to allow a student to deliver a sectarian speech or prayer as part of a school sponsored graduation ceremony is necessary to avoid violating the Establishment Clause.

        It’s not poor policy, unless you believe the U.S. Constitution is poor policy.

        Cole II II III III II III v. Oroville Union High School District (2000).

        Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000)

    • I think hes already been hoodwinked if you read what he reads. I’m sure he has a job with Liberty all lined up when he finishes Law school if that’s what he is planning on doing.

    • Just move along to Stanford don’t let those right wing crazies push you to do EVIL towards our Alma Mater. Maybe this wont be censored like BUHS did to Brooks.

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