Christ at Commencement

By: Hans Zeiger

At the June 15 commencement ceremony for Foothill High School in Nevada, school officials turned off the valedictorian’s microphone in the middle of her speech. Why? Brittany McComb dared to speak about her faith in Jesus Christ.

Brittany was ambitious as she grew up. She was a star on the swim team. She said in her speech that she was determined to be first place in every competition throughout junior high and high school. But she added that even first place was not enough; success was too small a shape to fit the emptiness she felt in her heart. She needed “Something more than me and what I do with my life, something more than my friends and what they do with their own lives.”

So Brittany quit the swim team, and she realized that God was the thing missing in her life. “This hole gapes as a wide-open trench when filled with swimming, with friends, with family, with dating, with shopping, with partying, with drinking, with anything but God. But His love fits. His love is ‘that something more’ we all desire. It’s unprejudiced, it’s merciful, it’s free, it’s real, it’s huge and it’s everlasting.”

Here the audience applauded. And here moved the ACLU.

Word moved along behind the scene, where salaries and administrative ladders and professional reputations hung in the balance. Unlike the Class of 2006, the career administrator, who tired quickly of the classroom and contented himself in the province of paperwork and social engineering in exchange of a raise, had still to contend with the ACLU.

“God’s love is so great that he gave His only son up.”

And the administrator, owing his allegiance to a higher power, pulled the plug.

That higher power, we know, is not God. The ACLU reigns today as the gilded god of the judiciary, and of the Boy Scouts meeting room, and of the classroom, and of the graduation ceremony. But it is not God.

It is reminiscent of old Babylon, where King Darius forbade prayer to anything but his own majesty. Daniel, caught praying to the Living God with his windows open, faced the lions and lived to chat with Darius about it.

Brittany, caught speaking about her faith in the God of Daniel at commencement service, faced the ACLU. Whatever the administrators and their backers in the ACLU (which did asseverate on the case after the microphone deadened) may still say about the impropriety of her speech, Brittany was clearly within the bounds of the First Amendment freedom of expression, and within the bounds of Christian character.

The frequent remark of secularists is that Christians are more likely to wear faith upon their sleeves than upon their hearts. If they are secularists of the religious sort, mainly of the mainline churches, they will quote the Sermon on the Mount: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.” Also, “when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.”

These are not altogether baseless quotations; they are, after all, from the Bible. And even if they are grossly misapplied by secular fundamentalists, they should temper our ambitions. At the least we should give a charitable hearing to the secular allegation, because it is not altogether baseless.There is a spiritual pride that card-carrying zealots of the Religious Right are particularly disposed toward. I think sometimes that the Religious Right deserves to be reminded of the Pharisees.

But Brittany McComb is no Pharisee. Hers were not the fighting words of a boaster or a condemner or a wager. It was the simple testimony of grace.

The Pharisees were not corrupt because they did their works in public. Jesus, after all, had a very public ministry. The Pharisaical fault is pride.

And the Christian virtue is humility.

It is of a Christian mind-a humble mind-that a young woman should attribute her success to her Savior. It is the sort of thing one would not expect of a generation tending to self-preoccupation.

And it is the indication of a power at work in our day against all of the best plotted efforts of the secularists and their legal enforcers in the ACLU. Brittany herself is the proof of the words they wouldn’t let her say, that man can “take part in something greater than himself. That something is God’s plan.” Call it youthful idealism. Call it a conspiracy. It is much more.

Hans Zeiger is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance and author of the new book Reagan’s Children: Taking Back the City on the Hill,

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