The Michigan chief tells the valedictorian that she cannot make any Christian comments in the graduation speech
A Michigan high school valedictorian alleges that her principal prevented her from recording comments about her faith in Jesus Christ during her graduation address in June, it has been revealed.
The conservative legal nonprofit First Liberty has a letter on behalf of Hillsdale High School senior Elizabeth Turner to principal Amy Goldsmith demanded that she agree to allow the teen to “express her personal religious beliefs” by Friday.
The letter alleges that Goldsmith was guilty of “ unconstitutional censorship ” when she allegedly remarked while editing the speech that Turner was “ representing the school ” – thus violating the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
First Liberty argues in the letter that Turner’s speech is not covered by the Establishment Clause because it is a private speech, not a government speech – and therefore she should be allowed to deliver her speech as written in her first draft.
Hillsdale High School principal Amy Goldsmith, left, reportedly tried to censor Elizabeth Turner, right, who included comments about her faith in Jesus Christ in the first draft of her graduation address
Hillsdale High School, where Turner is the valedictorian, is pictured in Google Street View
‘Mrs. Turner’s statements do not turn into a government speech simply because they are delivered in a public setting or to a public audience, ”the letter reads.
The law group has attached evidence in the letter, including a screenshot of the first draft of Turner’s speech in question.
For me, my future hope is found in my relationship with Christ. By trusting in him and choosing to live a life dedicated to bringing the glory of his kingdom, I can be confident that I am living a life with purpose and meaning, ”Turner wrote.
“My identity is found by what God says and who I want to become is written in the Scriptures. Whether we want to admit it or not, none of us can be sure how our lives will unfold, but we do know that trials will come. ‘
She continued, “The reality of this is that we face an unpredictable future, and as we make all these plans to prepare, none of us are ultimately promised tomorrow, making it all the more important to make today count.”
The screenshot of the speech, which was edited using track edit features in Google Docs, also shows the director’s alleged comments.
“This is better and you’ve changed the language, but you represent the school in the speech and don’t use the podium as your public forum,” the principal reportedly wrote.
‘We must be aware of the inclusion of religious aspects. These are your strong beliefs, but they are not appropriate for a public school speech. I know this will frustrate you, but we have to take it into account. ‘
Conservative legal nonprofit First Liberty has sent a letter to Principal Amy Goldsmith on behalf of Hillsdale High School senior Elizabeth Turner
The letter included screenshots of the first draft of Turner’s speech ahead of the June graduation ceremony
The letter also included screenshots of emails between Turner and Goldsmith
The legal group tweeted about sending the letter to the principal
After receiving Goldsmith’s comments, Turner reportedly sent an email to her principal telling her that she would not deliver the speech if she were unable to include the references to her Christian faith.
“I have read your comments and unfortunately I don’t think I could give a sincere speech under those circumstances. I disagree that we should avoid the topic of tragedy and death because that is part of everyone’s future, ”she wrote.
Principal Goldsmith can be seen in an undated photo
She added, “For me, my personal future depends on my faith, and I also want the freedom to discuss that in my speech when the opportunity arises.”
Going back-and-forth about parts of the speech about “ tragedy and death ” wasn’t immediately apparent, as the letter and supporting exhibits didn’t mention them.
Goldsmith then responded in an email to Turner who continued to discuss the “ appropriateness ” of the speech.
“I think a person can call to life with purpose without openly using the words death and tragedy,” Goldsmith wrote.
“While there is a certain amount of freedom as to the content of your speech, there are also considerations about what the content and message should be at a kickoff party and whether it is appropriate for the audience.”
She added: “When making a speech, it is important to consider the purpose and audience. Your speech has a good statement, it is the connotations of the words that you can avoid. ‘
That email response from Goldsmith was forwarded to First Liberty by Turner’s father, Dave Turner – the head pastor of Hillsdale Free Methodist Church.
DailyMail.com has contacted Dave Turner for more information and additional comments.