Student Barred From Praying, Speaking Jesus’ Name In Graduation Speech

The first amendment is one of the privileges that Americans enjoy provided to us because of the United States’ constitution; however, institutions are continually suppressing free speech, especially when it comes to the American Christian.

Moriah Bridges, a graduating student at Beaver High School in Pennsylvania, was asked to deliver an address on behalf of the students.

Bridges merely wanted to thank God for the blessings he had given to the students, their parents, the teachers, and the school administration. However, just prior to her speech, school officials gagged her, with principal Steven Wellendorf telling her that thanking God in the form of a prayer at a public school event–even one led by a student–is not allowed by law.

In the text of her disallowed speech, Bridges wrote, “Lord, surround us with grace and favor everywhere we go. Soften our hearts to teach us love and compassion, to show mercy and grace to others the way that you showed mercy and grace to us, even to the ultimate sacrifice. Help us love our brothers and our sisters deeply. Lead us to bless them.”

Wellendorf, after seeing the prepared text, crossed the above part out and stated that she could not utter the name of Jesus Christ in her speech. After that, the school principal crossed out more that Bridges wrote because it was in the form of a prayer; “Make us selfless. Make us just. Make us successful people, but more than that, make us good people.”


The principal wrote in a letter to Bridges that she could still address the graduating class and “indicate the things she wished or hoped for the class,” but she could not do it “in the style of a prayer and most certainly may not recite a prayer that excludes other religions by ending ‘in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’ or ‘in the matchless name of Jesus.’”

Bridges still addressed the graduating class and then proceeded to contact that First Liberty Institute. After speaking with Jeremy Dys, an attorney, he responded by saying the school officials violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and a U.S. Department of Education policy when they forced Bridges to censor her speech “merely because of the religious viewpoint of her remarks.”