Montana Judge to Valedictorian: You Can't Thank God

Judge rules against religious expressionBill Bumpas - OneNewsNow - 3/3/2010 6:00:00 AM

A judge in Montana has ruled against a high school valedictorian who wasn't allowed to speak at her graduation ceremony because she wanted to give God credit for her success. (See earlier article)

Rennee Griffith is now in her second year of college. She graduated from Butte High School in 2008 as one of the valedictorians, but when she submitted a draft of her speech to school authorities, her First Amendment rights were violated.

"She was asked, as were the other valedictorians, to speak about what helped them get through school. Some people wanted to thank the football coach or the track coach or their uncle or a particular teacher, and they were permitted to do that," explains Griffith's attorney, Bill O'Connor. "The only thing they would not permit, by their own admission, was...her to attribute any achievements to her belief in God."

The attorney reports that Griffith wanted to mention Christ once and God once in her speech, something he believes was well within her rights. "She was not doing what was forbidden by the Supreme Court or the Constitution, which is proselytizing," he argues. "She wasn't asking people to join her in her beliefs, and she wasn't praying, she wasn't asking people to join her in prayer."

O'Connor adds they plan to appeal this case to the Montana Supreme Court.