After 18-year-old Sam Blackledge worked hard to become valedictorian at his Illinois high school, he was recently prevented him from mentioning Jesus at his recent graduation ceremonies.
Blackledge was dismayed when the principal at his school told him that his speech could not mention Jesus or anything about his faith.
Liberty Counsel Sr. Litigation Counsel Richard Mast argues that the school violated Blackledge's constitutional right of free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.
"This is private speech,” Mast asserted. “This is not government speech, and the Constitution does not require complete separation of church and state.”
He went on to argue that the United States Constitution does require the school to accommodate one’s freedom to express one’s religion.
“But it mandates accommodation – and this is reasonable accommodation,” Mast continued. “And if anything, it forbids hostility towards faith – and this is hostility towards students' faith."
The Christian attorney also shared that he applauds Blackledge for agreeing to abide by the district's wishes, as he believes he should respect those in authority.
"I commend him for having dignity and grace in meeting with adversity with dignity,” Mast expressed. “So, if we had heard about this beforehand, we would be available to assist.”
He then urged other students who are denied their freedom of expression to talk about their faith at high school graduation to seek legal advice before giving up all hope for sharing their faith.
“[W]e are available during graduation to assist,” Mast reminded Christian students. “Liberty Counsel routinely assists valedictorians and others who are speaking in schools who may wish to mention their faith."
Liberty Counsel calls their defense of graduating Christians their "Friend or Foe" campaign.