On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

Texas valedictorian says she’ll pray during her graduation speech and is willing to go to jail

Graduating high school senior Angela Hildrenbrand says she’s willing to go to jail if that’s what it takes to be allowed to thank Jesus as her Lord and Savior during her valedictorian speech this weekend.

The Texas State Attorney General and her school district are fighting to see that she will be allowed to pray. But if they lose the court battle, the 18-year-old announced in front of the Alamo, she will pray anyway and pay the consequences.

CLICK HERE to read update: Amazing last-minute win for Angela! Three federal judges overturn the ban!


“I’ve been looking forward to my high school graduation day for a long time. And I had hoped it would be a cause for celebration, not for conflict,” said Hildenbrand.

CLICK HERE to read how Angela finally graduates — and prays as the crowd cheers

A prayer ban at her graduation in a San Antonio suburb went into effect after an agnostic family and their graduating senior filed a lawsuit last week. A judge granted their injunction banning any prayer at the graduation. Now Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is joining the Castroville school district’s appeal to allow students to express themselves.


Abbott said the judge’s ruling banning students from praising God or offering Him thanks during their commencement speeches is unconstitutional.

“The last thing these students should have done is to have ripped out from under them their ability to participate in a ceremony they’ve been expecting for the last four years,” he said.

Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery had ruled that students and their parents cannot ask the audience to join in prayer, bow their heads or even say aloud the words “prayer” or “amen.”

School board President Roland Ruiz argues that permitting students to express their religious views in school does not mean the district endorses religion. In fact, the district printed a disclaimer in each graduation program noting the content of each student speaker’s message is the private expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement of the district.


Hildenbrand said she simply wants to thank God for his blessings in her speech to students and wants permission to use some language that’s been barred by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery: words like “Lord,” “in Jesus name,” and “amen.”

Hildenbrand said it is the language of her personal faith.

Furthermore, she added, “I intend to pray in my speech on Saturday. And I feel that the court’s ruling does infringe upon my rights to freely express my religious views, and so I hope the appeals court will do the right thing.”

Her father, Timothy Hildenbrand, said, “As a parent and as a citizen I would just like to say that I’m so proud of my daughter for standing up for our First Amendment rights.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ms. Dedon

    It is young people like you, miss Hildenbrand that give a glimmer of hope for this nation. Thank you for your courage to stand up and be a ray of light in this ever darkening society we live in. God bless you!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment kenneth

    It’s young people like you, miss Hildenbrand, that make me want to retch until I pass out! You’ve taken your opportunity for an inspirational speech and decided to hijack it for your own sectarian religious agenda and a bit of cheesy reality show fame. Like so many Christians these days, you can’t resist manufacturing a controversy to paint yourself as a martyr and crying “persecution” any time you’re required to follow the law and respect anyone else’s religious freedom besides your own. My own gods would find it meaningless and insulting to offer them prayers in the circumstances you propose, making it a political football. You fancy yourself as a great defender of Jesus, no doubt, but what will your antics make him if you get arrested? A chump. Another stepping stone in your quest to be a hero to redneck culture warriors.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mordred08

    I don’t believe for one second that somebody’s going to get arrested for praying in Texas.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment alice jacob

    I respect you for your boldness for standing up for what you believe in and your humility in acknowledging God’s help in your studies. Promotion doesn’t come from the East or the West but from God and it is so nice to see a brave young person like you willing to praise God in all circumstances. The Lord is on your side who can be against you. Psalm 1 says that the righteous will prosper like the tree planted by the rivers of water but the ungodly shall perish.I believe God will raise you up even if you go to prison, just like he did to Joseph.Hold on to your faith and God will honour you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Forgiven & Loved

    I admire your courage who stand up on your faith. I’ll be praying for you and your success on every endeavor. May God be glorified and exalted in your life. God bless you!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Evi

    Why is it that it only takes 1 person (family) that can prevent a whole group from expressing or exercising their belief? What about the rest of the students who want to be able to express their belief or practice patriotism by pledging to the U.S. flag? How can that freedom for everyone else be taken away because 1 person (family) is against it? It’s just not right!

    God bless you in your stand for what you believe in and God bless America!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment carolyn

    Its truly a pleasure , to see a young person speak oF God and stand for what they believe he is in there lives, We wouldnt be here today if it wasnt for his grace amd mercy, Still the World has on its blinders, Stand for what you believe ,and he will honor you , for his word and his love will overcome,no matter what we say or do.So Pray for your fellow piers to do well and prosper , its a new begining.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment John

    I fear soon only those who speak Gov-speak will be protected. All Christians will be marked as hate mongers and will have to pray and worship only behind closed doors. I fear the U.S.A. will not be on the side of God in the war to come if things keep going the way they are going. May God bless America, and Jesus is Lord!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cheryl

    Kenneth, why has this young woman’s right to say a prayer invoked such a negative reaction in you? She has a right to her freedoms, the same as you do to spew your negativity.
    I personally applaud her stance for whatever reason, these situations clarify how close we are to the end times, and yes Revelations does say the church will be persecuted,if you want to see that as “cheesy reality show” but true believers see it as another crown to lay at the feet of our Lord.
    I do hope you were not trying to get a response that was as negative and filled with venom as your comment. I WILL PRAY FOR YOUR ETERNAL SOULthat you are brought the the Light before the final trumpet call!!!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Barbara Barrett

    Yes, this young woman has a right to freely express her religious beliefs, but as a valedictorian she is considered both an example and a student leader, and while acting as validictorian she has a responsibility to lead by example on behalf of the school, which also has a responsibility to not favor any religious view. While speaking as validictorian the school has every right to tell her she cannot express specific religious views as she leads the students in her speach. By doing so anyway, she is violating the fist amendment of every student whose graduation it is, and who is a part of the ceremony, whether they agree with her religious views or not. This is not persecution against christians or anyone else, it is merely the formality of carrying out constitutional obligations on behalf of any government agency or by an agent who acts on behlaf of government (such as all public schools). If she wants religious prayer to accompany her graduation, she should have attended a religious school.

    The average American has absolutely no grasp of the Bill of Rights and thinks the first amendment allows them to tell others how to think and how to act, and how to “moralize”. But the first amendment only allows them to chose how to think, how to act and how they pick their own morals. It does NOT dictate that they get to impose those things on the rest of us. Whats more, the first amendment specifically prohibits government from interfering in their religious choices, NOT in interfering in their religious prosecution against others, or their attempts to force their religious beliefs into ceremonies that are secular in nature. When they promote their eligious belief using a secular forum, THEY are in violation of the first amendmnet and the courts have every right to interfere to protect the first amendment rights of the rest of us.

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