Meet Roy Costner IV, this year’s valedictorian at Liberty High School in Liberty, South Carolina.
At the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum on the campus of Clemson University, Costner defied pressure to keep religion out of the public-school event in a fairly epic way.
He walked to the podium with his school-approved speech in hand. Then, in front of the crowd, he tore the thing up, reports local NBC-affiliate WYFF.
After speaking for a bit, the senior cut to the quick.
“Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today,” Costner said in his speech. “I’m so thankful that both my parents led me to the Lord at a young age. And I think most of you will understand when I say…”
Costner then proceeded to recite a full-length version of the Lord’s Prayer, the pivotal Christian prayer that is attributed to Jesus in the both the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew.
The audience members began to cheer tentatively and then heartily once they realized what Costner was saying. The applause eventually became so loud that it drowned out Costner’s voice.
At the end of the prayer, after Costner says, “Amen,” the audience breaks into another round of wild applause.
The people sitting behind Costner — presumably school officials, teachers and the like — did not clap.
A local man, Brian Hoover, provided some background about what provoked Costner to pull his stunt, and what caused the crowd to react so strongly.
“From the ACLU sending FOIA requests to every district in the state this year after the Chesterfield County case, then the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent us a complaint about religion at board meetings and some other issues as well.” Hoover told WYFF. “That is why the reaction to the prayer at graduation was loud.”