Craig is a high school senior at West High School in the small town of Springfield. Craig is an honor student; earning straight As throughout his high school years, as well as earning honors for his work in the school choir.
Craig’s senior year has been nothing short of spectacular. He not only continued to pile up the academic and chorale honors, but he was offered an academic scholarship in order to attend State in the fall. What’s more, Craig was elected by the senior class and the faculty to be valedictorian. With the honor would also come the valedictorian speech at graduation.
West High School had a tradition that went back for decades: at graduation, the school choir would sing The Lord’s Prayer. Being a graduating senior, this would be the first year in four that Craig would not be in the choir participating in that tradition. However, the fact that he had a major role in the ceremony as valedictorian overcame any disappointment he might have felt by not being in the choir.
Two months before the ceremony, the school district announced that this year, the traditional singing of The Lord’s Prayer would not be performed. The American Civil Liberties Union had caught wind of the tradition, and had threatened the school district with a lawsuit if they did not eliminate the song from the ceremony. Given the fact that the school district had a scarce supply of money, and given the fact that, as the superintendent stated, they would rather pay teachers than lawyers, the school district acquiesced to the ACLU demands.
When Craig heard the news about the decision, he was at first saddened. It had been such a beautiful part of each graduation; always well-performed, always well-received. Shame it wasn’t going to happen for his graduation.
But the more that Craig thought about the decision, the more outraged he became. He had to do an oral report in his government class where he recited the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment guaranteed his right to free exercise of his religious convictions, didn’t it? The ACLU was infringing on his rights, he thought; that’s not right!
But the more that Craig thought about the decision, the more outraged he became.
But something else began to grip Craig’s heart. Ever since he made a decision to trust Jesus Christ as his Savior during his freshman year, much had changed. What had been a measure of smug arrogance from always being the smartest kid in the class gave way to a genuine concern and compassion for his classmates. What had been a sharp tongue gave way to one that conveyed respect and courtesy to others. Christ had done so much for Craig; he began to seek out how to honor Christ through his life and his words.
One day at lunch, Craig began to vent his frustrations about the school district’s decision about the song. “I can’t believe those people in the school board haven’t read the First Amendment! What about our rights? And this is our graduation, not theirs!”
“You know,” said one of Craig’s friends, “You are the Valedictorian, aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but…”
“You’re going to be giving the Valedictorian speech, aren’t you?”
“Why can’t you just sing out The Lord’s Prayer during your speech?”
“Are you serious? You want me to sing it?”
“Okay, don’t sing it, but if you work “Our Father which art in heaven” into your speech, we can get the entire senior class to say The Lord’s Prayer with you!”
Craig was torn. This could get him into trouble; it might jeopardize that scholarship to State. But it was also a chance to give credit and glory to Jesus.
If you were Craig, what would you do?