Faith brittany_mccomb

Published on June 22nd, 2006 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Brittany McComb: Silenced At Graduation




This post serves as coverage central for Brittany McComb’s story. Updates will be added directly below in reverse chronological order. For first time vistors, the original post is below the updates.

UPDATE #10: Read an interview with Brittany McComb conducted by Richard Abowitz of the latimes.com blog.

UPDATE #9: Read the legal brief submitted by The Rutherford Institute in the First Amendment lawsuit they have filed in Brittany’s defense. It includes a detailed account of the events leading up to the graduation.

UPDATE #8: Watch an extended video of Brittany’s graduation speech. (Source: The Rutherford Institute)

UPDATE #7: Read the Christ-honoring letter Brittany wrote to thank her friends and supporters, posted on her Myspace blog.

UPDATE #6: Watch Brittany McComb on the Today Show with her parents. (HT: Counting Stones of Faith)

UPDATE #5: Watch a video with clips of Brittany McComb’s speech and hear the audience’s response when her mic is turned off. (Courtesy of NBC5i.com)

UPDATE #4: Read the full text of Brittany’s McComb graduation speech. (HT: Review-Journal)

UPDATE #3: You can watch Brittany McComb on Hannity and Colmes or just read the excerpt.

UPDATE #2: Reverend Jerry Falwell’s column, published June 24th on WorldNetDaily, covers Brittany McComb’s story in the context of what he calls “a national effort to eradicate our religious freedoms.”

UPDATE #1: LifeSite.net just published an article that contains excerpts from Brittany’s appearance on “Jay Sekulow Live!” and AgapePress announces that Foothill High School will be sued as early as next week for silencing her.

“She knew her speech as valedictorian of Foothill High School would be cut short, but Brittany McComb was determined to tell her fellow graduates what was on her mind and in her heart.

But before she could get to the word in her speech that meant the most to her — Christ — her microphone went dead.” (cont’d article @ reviewjournal.com)

In “Noah Rineresque” fashion, 18-year-old valedictorian Brittany McComb of Foothill High School in Henderson, NV, delivered her original graduation speech — complete with two references to the Lord, nine mentions of God and one mention of Christ — instead of the politically-correct version approved by school administrators. Brittany credits her faith in Christ as the primary reason for her success in school, and said she couldn’t give her valediction without thanking and acknowledging Him. But before she was half-way through, the school cut her microphone.

Now Brittany is using the unasked-for, but unavoidable national platform the controversy has thrust upon her to campaign for religious freedom and to testify for her Lord and Savior before thousands upon thousands of watching eyes.

Brittany, The Rebelution applauds you for your stand and for your committment to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you for your example. Our prayers are with you.

For more information, go read the Associated Press article, Ben Shapiro’s column over at WorldNetDaily, and the Rutherford Institute’s press release announcing its decision to legally-represent Brittany in filing a lawsuit against the school district.

REACHING A VERDICT

Read the following interaction from the post Brittany McComb: Legal Brief Available, where we address the argument that Brittany lied and the question of whether we would be just as supportive if she had been Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu.

Ian Timothy: The only reason I am not just overwhelmingly supportive of this whole McComb ordeal because after all she did LIE. No matter how valiant it might appear to mention the things of Christ that she did you can’t get around the fact that she did what she said she would not do. As much as I want to support her my conscience can’t let that one small, yet pivital fact be ignored.

The Rebelution: Ian, I really appreciate your comments on this issue, because I know that a lot of people (myself included) have had similar thoughts.

From what I have read, watched, and listened to (i.e. almost everything), I would not say that Brittany lied. To be more precise, I don’t believe that she said she would present the edited version of her speech while still planning to give the non-edited version. I think the final decision to go with the original speech came much closer to the actual ceremony.

I think it’s also important to note that, at the time, the McCombs and their attorney were in the midst of their attempts to contact and/or meet with the school district attorney to discuss the speech. According to the legal brief, none of their calls were ever returned.

After giving this a lot of thought, the conclusion I believe best explains the facts is that, when Brittany said that she would give the edited version of her speech, she was still hoping that her parents would be able to settle the matter with the school district attorney, whether favorably or unfavorably, prior to the graduation ceremony. It wasn’t intended to deceive. Instead, it was intended to appease them until her parents could resolve the issue. Of course, when the school district attorney repeatedly failed to return their calls requesting to meet with him, Brittany was faced with a last-minute decision. She could 1) go along and give the edited speech or 2) give the speech that God had placed on her heart. From the little I have seen of Brittany’s heart for Christ, I don’t believe she could have stood before her classmates and their families and given a speech with only a generic reference to a “divine being.”

However, from an admittedly limited perspective on the last several days and hours before her graduation, I believe that it probably would have been better for Brittany to communicate her decision to the school officials prior to the ceremony. It would likely have resulted in a similar censorship and violation of her freedom of speech/religion, but would have given the school district no basis to say that she was trying to be deceptive.

Hindsight is always 20-20 (or at least, closer to it). But what I can say with confidence is that Brittany’s motivation was and is to do whatever God has called her to do (see the full text of her speech). From what I can tell, Brittany has honored her parents in this situation from the beginning. She was certainly not trying to draw national attention. She was simply seeking to share the message God had placed on her heart. Because of that, she has our support.

Suzannah: May I ask if you would have been similarly supportive if it had been a Jew, Muslim, or Hindu who had done the same thing as Brittany?

The Rebelution: Suzannah, I do not expect secular school district officials to act in accordance with my Christian presuppositions. Because of that, my opposition to their actions stems from what I see as a violation of Brittany’s constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of religion, as well as violating Clark County school district regulations, which state:

Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression… that expression is not attributable to the school and, therefore, may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content. To avoid any mistaken perception that a school endorses student or other private speech that is not in fact attributable to the school, school officials may make appropriate neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech is not school sponsored.

In answer to your question: I would be similarly opposed to the school district, even if Brittany was a member of another religion. However, my support of Brittany goes beyond the district regulations or the text of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. In that sense, my support would differ. Does that make sense?

For more discussion, click here.











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About the Author

are the co-founders of TheRebelution.com and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.



  • Heidi

    This is definitely a difficult question. Was it right for Brittany McComb to defy her authorities or should she have submitted and allowed her message to go unspoken?

    I was looking through Acts just now and came to Chapter 5, where the apostles are thrown into jail by the high priest for preaching the gospel. I think there is a very helpful parallel there. In verses 17-21 we have men of God that are thrown into jail and solemnly charged by the authority of the high priest not to speak the gospel. Then during the night, an angel of the Lord comes and opens the prison gates and commands them to go and “speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this life.”

    Their was no doubt that the temple was under the authority of the high priest, in much the same way that the Clark County School is clearly under the authority of its administrators, yet the apostles were commanded by God to defy this authority and preach the gospel there.

    Brittany spoke the gospel with courage even though the authorities of the school told her she could not. Judging by this passage it looks to me like Brittany did what was right. However, I think it would have been wrong, if she had previously given her word to speak only the approved speech, to then break her word. (although there is no reason to assume she did so)

    There will definitely be times that we must respectfully disobey authorities, and I pray that if I ever have to God will give me the grace and courage to do it.

  • Nasser

    Give me a break! I was valedictorian and they edited my speech.

    It his person wins than someone who’s a Satanist will be able to speak about that. Would you like that? Eventually schools will just stop having addresses to prevent that eventuality.

    What a crock.

  • martin kallikak

    Your website has one hilarious aspect. The picture you use of Ms. McComb presents a modest vision of her. The same photo on the Las Vegas Review Journal’s website shows considerable decolletage, which you guys apparently covered up by painting in a white top, underneath the outer blouse. Wild!

  • Very encouraging story. Brittany is a very brave girl for standing up for Christ in a world that’s so against Him.

  • Paladin

    Thank God for girls like her.

    Does anyone know if she has a boyfriend? 😉

  • Grace

    What would I have done? I probably would have allowed myself to be silenced, unless I got angry. I’ll be praying for the lawsuit and for Brittany.

  • Grace: Would you mind sharing why you would let yourself be silenced? Is it because you think that would be the right thing to do? Is it because you’d be afraid of the consequences? etc.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • It makes a bad impression if someone stops in midspeech and never finishes. So, in that very awkward moment, I’d hopefully finish saying what I’d intended, or if that were impossible because of the noise, find a graceful way to leave off. I’m sure the uproar makes a bigger impression than the speech itself. There are several examples of interrupted speeches in the gospels and Acts. There it often ended in a stoning attempt. See Lk 4:24-30; Jn 8:58-59, 10:31-39, 18:20-23; Ac 7:51-60, 17:31-33, 19:28-20:1, 23:1-11, 26:24-29.

    The real question you asked, however, is whether to deliberately deviate from the written speech when warned of the consequences. I think I would, just because I don’t like “canned” speeches. Whe I heard a rumor of the story yesterday at lunch, I said, “That’s not a speech, it’s a puppet show!” The idea is silly.

    If it’s a question of whether to defy authority… it does require justification and proper timing. It requires God’s leading. This is why Sheba’s rebellion failed (2Sa 20) and Jeroboam’s rebellion succeeded (1Ki 11-12).

    In the case of content discrimination, a Christian message is more justified than obscenity, etc. for continuing to speak. On the other side, we should never do evil that good may result. (Ro 3:8 ) In fact, in the Acts 23 passage already cited, Paul apologized for reviling the high priest who had ordered him to be slapped for what he said. Never speak evil about the ruler of your people. (Ex 22:28 )

    Another option might have been to hint at the topics throughout her speech, while never saying the taboo words… and remarking about why she couldn’t. It might have been humorous. It would have been an improvement on the Battleground (WA) convocation given by school board president Sam Kim, who talked about how much better the education would be if this year’s bond had passed.

    So… if you must, be a prophet. Be creative and appeal to the authorities. Find a mutually beneficial solution. Repent if you are anyway in the wrong. If they won’t relent, and you are sure of God’s leading, don’t be afraid of an authority’s disapproval if what you have to say is right. Stand alone and live with the consequences.

  • In response to some of those commenting…

    I’m having a hard time seeing how Brittany defied her authorities. She has, in America, what we call “The freedom of speech”. Which means she has the right to say what she wants to. She earned the spot of valedictorian and as a result should be allowed to say what she wishes. It’s not as if she were using all kinds of profanity and vulgarity. She was simply sharing what helped her to get through highschool and trying to let other teens know how she made it. At least, from what I’ve read and what I can tell, she did nothing illegal. In fact, I see no justification for the school to censor her speech.

    If I were Brittany, I would have spoken louder. Who needs a microphone? 😉 If they would have cut my microphone, I would have finished my speech without one. Unless and uproar made it impossible to hear. Then I would have waited till everyone calmed down, and ended with, “God bless you all, and God bless America!”

    =D

    But maybe that’s just me.

  • Heidi

    Well, I think she defied her authorities in the sense that she was under the authority of the school, as was the entire graduation event, and she did not do what they told her to do.

    But I agree that she should have been allowed the right to speak whatever she chose, so long as it was not obscene or profane etc.

  • Agent 507

    First let me say: Sherman, I think you hit right on the head. So did Ben Shipiro.
    Secondly: I don’t think there is any doubt that Brittany did the right thing to disregard the wishes of her authorities. First from a technical standpoint: This is, after all, a public school. It thus follows that public opinions should be expressed there as well. I believe that she was obeying God rather than men; she sacrificed the praise of man for the glory of God. She did as all should do who claim the name of Christ: Make our number one objective the glory of God and the spreading of his kingdom through speech and action.
    Thirdly: What would I do? I cannot “boast of the marrow,” but I pray that when that mic is cut, for God to give me the strength to stand straighter as I proclaim His name and as the heathen rage and imagine vain things. As they curse, to bless. As they blaspheme, to pray.

  • It is wonderful to hear that some Christian students in the public schools are finding the courage to speak out for Christ. It is also encouraging to note that the crowd booed after the microphone went dead — not before. Hopefully the administration of a public school does not represent the beliefs of the American public in general.

  • Although my children are homeschooled we have many friends in government schools. Last year at graduation two young men from our little country church were tied for validictorian. They both gave speeches. One was very canned, but the other was excellent. Daniel centered his speech around John the Baptist and the fact that he lived a life of purpose, and that purpose was to serve God and to be the forerunner for Christ.
    In our little community one can still “get away with” mentioning Christ in the schools. But on a lighter, sadder note, one graduate asked after the speech if John the Baptist was a student at the highschool

  • John

    I’m a Christian, but I’m going to play the devil’s advocate, and argue why Brittany’s action was wrong.

    Marshall Sherman, 6 posts above me, stated that America has “what we call ‘The freedom of speech'” and that Americans should be able to express themselves in whatever subject matter they please. This is a misunderstanding.

    What if a valedictorian spouts words of racism, white-supremacy, homophobic-bigotry, or the classic “fire” in a gymnasium. Those words should be considered wrong because they are against the law, and so is Brittany’s references to Christ and the Bible.

    Now, Brittany is obviously a well-intentioned, good-natured young girl, but she misunderstands what free speech means in this country. There ARE some things you can’t say in a public forum (Brittany was given a school-sponsored forum by a school and therefore, in essence, it was a school-sponsored speech), and according to the first and fourteenth amendment, no level of government (including public schools) shall endorse a particular religion. Her references to the Bible and Christ obviously meant that Brittany was endorsing Christianity, and as a sponsor of the school, the school was endorsing Chrsitianity as a result.

    Many of you are using biblical verses and elements of faith to justify Brittany’s actions, but it is my sincerest belief that the government and my faith should remain seperate, for one is founded on reason and the other…faith.

  • Jessica

    Good for you Brittany. How dare they silence you for telling people how the lord changed your life. Why do i get the feeling that if it was any other religion it may not have been such an issue? I think that anyone should be able to talk about their beliefs, no matter what they fallow.

  • The article Erring on the side of censorship: US government schools are becoming Christ-free zones points out that not only did the school violate Brittany’s constitutional rights, but that Christian parents should consider separating SCHOOL from state. Sending kids to government schools is like Moses sending the Israelite children to Canaanite schools. The article also documents how schools have no problem promoting Islam (aka The Religion of Peace).

    And the professing Christian “John” above is one reason the church is in such trouble today, and why the antitheists walk all over us: this ridiculous separation of faith and reaons. Looks like he doesn’t obey Jesus’s
    “greatest commandment”, “love God with all your … MIND” See also Loving God with all your mind: logic and creation http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1860/

  • Forgot URL to Erring on the side of censorship: US government schools are becoming Christ-free zones http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4515

  • Joshua R

    Another thing that John forgot is that The Rebelution Replied to a question from Suzannah and included a quotation from the Clark County school district regulations, which state:

    ” Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression… that expression is not attributable to the school and, therefore, may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content. To avoid any mistaken perception that a school endorses student or other private speech that is not in fact attributable to the school, school officials may make appropriate neutral disclaimers to clarify that such speech is not school sponsored.

    So wouldn’t that mean that she wasn’t violating the first and fourteenth amendment?
    Seeing as the District Regulations state that the “expression is not attributable to the school and, therefore, may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.”

    Am I totally off base or is my assumption correct?

    — — —
    MGB ICL
    Joshua

  • Peter

    Josh: is it realy against the law to make references to Christ and the bible? How so?

  • Peter

    Sorry, I meant “John, not josh.

    Jonathan Safarti:What exactly makes you think that John is not a christian?

  • I didn’t say whether John was or wasn’t a Christian, just that he professed to be one while violating Jesus’s greatest commandment and siding with misotheists who want to expunge Christianity from public life. The anti-Christian effect is the same either way.

  • Alexander Kaehler

    John-

    “it is my sincerest belief that the government and my faith should remain seperate, for one is founded on reason and the other…faith.”

    I would like to point out that this is a very flawed view of christianity, or any belief. First, christianity does not violate reason, although it may seem so when our corrupt human nature resents it. Also, one cannot truly seperate ones beliefs from any other aspect of life. This is because everything is molded by our worldview, spiritual glasses, presuppositions. I can’t think of anything else to add without some inpute from John, so that’s all.

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  • Domenico McComb Celucio

    Oi tudo bom??
    você tem parentes no Brasil?
    Você é muito bonita!!!
    será que somos parentes,pode ser que sim temos o mesmo sobre-nome,qual quer coisa entre encontato pelo meu e-mail Bjokas!!!!

  • Stephanie

    Way to go Brittany. Way to stand your ground. I give you a hand for standing up for what you believe and for giving thanks to our AMAZING God in front of everyone. Way to Go!!

  • Katelyn

    I think that Brittany did the right thing. She was trying to get in touch with the school attorney; he/she was not answering (whether it was intentional or not, I do not know). In this situation, she did what she thought was the right thing to do.

  • Dale

    Her FULL speech is beautiful. The only block that fits is the one that grounded in Christ. Nothing in this world can satisfy like Christ can

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