June 6, 2011 Print
Angela Hildenbrand at her graduation

Prayer Steals the Show at Texas Graduation

by Jennifer Mesko

Angela Hildenbrand used her 15 minutes of fame wisely — focused on prayer.

While the nation watched, the valedictorian said a prayer at Saturday’s graduation ceremony at Medina Valley High School, near San Antonio.

Just a few days earlier, a federal district judge had issued a broad ruling that effectively prohibited Angela from praying or mentioning God at the school-sponsored event. The school district, as well as Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Liberty Institute, filed emergency appeals with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn publicly decried the ruling.

At the eleventh hour — Friday afternoon — the 5th Circuit intervened and nullified the district court order, allowing Angela’s prayer to go forward.

“This is a victory not only for valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand, but also for her fellow graduates and young people across the country whose rights to express themselves through prayer at graduation ceremonies were vindicated,” Cornyn said after the ruling. “Today the gavel fell on the side of justice and reaffirmed the constitutional rights we hold dear.”

Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of the Liberty Institute — with which CitizenLink is proudly associated, and which represented Angela — said: “This is a complete victory for religious freedom and for Angela. No citizen has the right to ask the government to bind and gag the free speech of another citizen.”

Angela said she felt blessed “to be a part of this and to see God’s hand through everything.

“It has been interesting to learn about the law process and to experience the media relations, but most of all a great testament to the faithfulness of our God,” she told conservative blogger Sonja Harris.

Angela’s prayer:

Lord, I thank you so much for the blessing of this day. And I just thank you for the amazing group of people that you surrounded me with.

God, I thank you for the support of our whole entire community through this case hearing; and also for Erin (Leu)and all the people at the Liberty Institute; and my parents, who’ve helped get me through the last couple of days.

Lord, I just thank you so much for your presence in our lives through these 18 years. And I just praise you for your incredible faithfulness through all adversity and all joy.

God, I thank you for the men and women who have given their lives helping to give us, and protect, the freedoms that we have today. And I ask that you please keep your hand of guidance on all of them — past, present and future military.

God, I thank you just so much for the freedom to be here today. And most of all, I thank you for loving us first.

God, I ask that you please keep each of us safe and well, as we all go our separate ways. And I can’t wait to see where you’ll be leading each of us. I ask that you’ll ask us all to remember where we come from, and to know where we stand.

God, I thank you for the gift of your Son and for the forgiveness that surpasses all understanding. And most of all, I thank you for your great love for us, and for our great nation, where we are free.

And it’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Please thank Kelly Shackelford, the school district and Attorney General Greg Abbott for taking a stand for religious freedom.

Visit the Liberty Institute’s website.