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By Sara Burnett
Rocky Mountain News

As she stepped to the microphone to give her commencement speech last spring, Erica Corder knew that what she was about to say might ruffle some feathers.

But the 2006 Lewis Palmer High School graduate, one of 15 valedictorians who addressed the crowd, didn't believe she had a choice.

"I really felt God calling me to do this," Corder said Thursday. "My top priority is obeying God."

So Erica Corder thanked all the teachers, parents and peers in the crowd for their encouragement over the years.

Then, deviating from the 30-second speech that had been approved by the principal, she began speaking about "someone who loves you more than you could ever imagine."

"His name is Jesus Christ," Corder said. "If you don't already know Him personally I encourage you to find out more about the sacrifice He made for you ..."

The approximately 30-second speech sparked an immediate controversy.

Before she was granted her diploma, Corder was required to apologize in an e-mail to the entire school community.

Now Corder is fighting back.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court this week, Corder says the Monument high school violated her rights to free speech and equal protection.

Corder's father, Steve, said Thursday the Corders are not seeking money other than attorney fees.

Rather, they want to get clarity on an area of the law that has caused problems for graduation speakers of strong faith across the country in recent years.

The district has a written policy titled "Student Expression Rights," according to the lawsuit. It prohibits expression that, among other things, is disruptive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous or threatens violence. It does not specifically prohibit religious speech, the lawsuit states.

Corder said the valedictorians had only a few days to prepare their speeches before they practiced them for the principal, Mark Brewer.

She knew she wanted to honor God in her remarks, but she didn't do so in her practice speech because she knew there was a chance Brewer would prohibit the comments, and because she didn't think there would be enough time to work through the issue with him, she said.

After the speech, she was escorted by a teacher to see the assistant principal, who told her she wouldn't be getting her diploma, the lawsuit alleges. Five days later, in a meeting with Brewer, he told her the comments were "immature," according to the lawsuit.

Corder agreed to issue an apology because she was worried that if she didn't do so, it might affect her ability to attend college. She wrote a brief paragraph saying she did not intend to offend anyone, and that Brewer did not condone her words.

After her statement was distributed via e-mail, Corder received her diploma.



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Romans 10:9
"That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

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Lorenzo

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God bless her for she does not fear the world, she speaks with the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
This is an inspiration for all of us in these times, when faith is being attacked by narrow-minded bigots.


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The Proper Use of Speech

Started by Lorenzo on Bible Study

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Last post June 02, 2008, 10:36:03 AM
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