Liberty, S.C. – When 18-year-old Roy Costner IV of Liberty, S.C., first heard about the controversy over prayer at public school events in Pickens County several months ago, he was perplexed and felt compelled to get involved. But he never expected that it would be his valedictorian speech that would draw national attention to this small town battle. In fact, he didn’t even expect to be valedictorian of his graduating class.

“I am a strong Christian, and when I heard about our local school board getting attacked by the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation, I realized it was outside groups pressuring our local officials,” he said in an interview with The Christian Post. “The complaints came from a Wisconsin organization and the ACLU also tried to make things difficult, even though this was not a local problem and no one from our county had complained about public prayer.”

Costner and his friends run a local news website,, so they followed the school district’s proceedings closely. “We stay involved in our community, so we all went to the school board meeting when they were deciding on public prayer and we packed it out,” he recalls. “It was so crowded that you couldn’t move inside, and there was a huge circle of people outside, too. It seemed like everyone in attendance supported prayer in schools, but the school board voted against prayer 3-2 even though not all the members were present for the vote.”
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