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Ethics & Religion
December 22, 2015
Column #1,791
The Christian Courage of an 18-Year-Old
By Mike McManus

There is a modern Grinch who tries to steal Christmas, called the "Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)."

Its goal is to undermine the Christian faith by preventing any public expression of it that would encourage people to believe. How?

FFRF targets "schools and local governments in rural communities which are typically underfunded and therefore fearful of lawsuits," as Tony Perkins states it in his new book, "No Fear: Real Stories of a Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth."

By picking on the little guys, FFRF pushes its "militant anti-religious freedom agenda" with impunity. In Liberty, South Carolina, the school board was told to stop opening its monthly meetings with a prayer "in Jesus' name," which it said violated the U.S. Constitution. The board agreed to change and simply open with a nonsectarian prayer.

Not good enough for the militantly atheist group which insisted that the board "not heed to a religious majority."

The board scheduled a meeting that was attended by a thousand students, parents and others who were incensed that out-of-state atheists were fighting their free exercise of religion. Yet, the board still endorsed a nonsectarian prayer or a moment of silence.

Roy Costner IV, the high school valedictorian in 2013, attended the meeting and knew that "every aspect of Christian life would change." Events such as the annual "See You At the Pole" student-led prayer meeting would be off-limits. The principal told him there would be no prayer at the Commencement, and no references to God in speeches by students. And she asked him to submit his Valedictory Address to her in advance.

He had planned to end his address with the Lord's Prayer, but deleted it. The principal did allow him to say, "I am happy that both my parents led me to the Lord."

However, Roy knew that his very existence was due to prayer. Born nearly two months premature, he was not expected to live, nor was his mother due to a rare disease. Roy's dad asked prayer warriors at church to help. Word spread across the country and prayers flooded heaven. The Lord responded, saving both of their lives.

Coming home from the principal's office, Roy asked himself, "How can I deny not only who I am, but whose I am?" He thought of Matthew 10:33: "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My father who is in heaven."

He asked his father, the church worship leader, what he should do. His dad replied, "Whatever you do, you do it for the right reason."

He wondered whether he might lose his diploma and his graduation, if he prayed the Lord's Prayer.

A huge crowd gathered at a Coliseum on the Clemson campus. He wondered if he should be silent and allow God to be driven out of a public event in a community that overwhelmingly supported freedom of religion.

At the end of his prepared remarks, Roy added, "I think most of you will understand when I say, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…"

Faculty members shifted uncomfortably in their seats, but the audience applauded. "Thy kingdom come…" At this point, Roy "could hardly hear his own voice over the applause," wrote Perkins.

"This was the opportunity many in the community had waited for, to stand with someone who was not afraid to challenge those robbing them of their God-given First Amendment freedom."

The event went viral across America, cheered by conservative media. Far from being silenced, as FFRF had hoped, the event gave Roy an even greater platform to stand for his faith in Jesus Christ.

At the chapter's end, Perkins recalled the story of Daniel who served as a leader of the Jews who had been defeated by the Babylonians. Daniel interpreted a dream of Darius the king, who appointed him to a high position.

Jealous administrators plotted to trap Daniel. They asked Darius to issue a decree that "anyone who prays to any god" over the next 30 days shall be thrown into the lions' den. Darius agreed. When the decree was published, Daniel continued praying three times a day. Daniel feared God more than man.

He was thrown into the lions' den, but God shut the lions' mouths. Darius was delighted, and threw the conspirators to the lions. Perkins notes that Daniel was not defying the king, but made "a statement of dependence upon THE King.

Roy is a modern Daniel celebrated by Perkins' new book, "No Fear."

Copyright © 2015 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers.

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