rebelling against low expectations

“Thank You” from Brittany McComb


Earlier this evening, Brittany posted a “thank you” message on her Myspace to all of her friends and to others supporting her stand. Praise God for her Christ-honoring attitude. And please, remember to keep Brittany in your prayers.

Saturday, June 24, 2006 – (9:03 PM)

I am writing tonight to give everyone one big, huge, heartfelt thank you. All of the support and encouragement I have received lifts my spirits and urges me to continue to focus on Christ and His love and His plan. And this is where I get my energy and drive to continue forward with all of this. Because the truth is, I wasn’t angry that my freedom of speech was denied. I was determined to follow the convictions of my heart, the urging of the Holy Spirit to share God’s amazing, all encompassing, forgiving in all circumstances, love.

All of your encouragment has led me to want to encourage you. The stand I took was one small step, one small yes to God’s call. After I took this step you all joined in this fight. It amazes me, it astounds me what God is doing, how He took an event where man denied Him and turned it around for His own glory. He truly is all powerful.

When we realize we are nothing, God makes us something. David tells us “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” in Psalm 51:17. Just know that all those who have told me they respect and admire me, the one who you respect and admire is truly Christ in me. I am nothing without Him. But, it rouses every sense in my soul to think that I am EVERYTHING with Him. I have everything I will ever need, every bit of strength, every word that needs uttering, every thought, every smile, every tear, every bit of compassion. And all that I need to do is tap into His source of power- his Word. Reading his word, sitting silent in His presence, worshiping His name with His people…He will give you all you need for this fight and for this life.

Continue to pray that Christians will be victorious in this fight, that we will be able to proclaim His name, by law, anywhere and everywhere we feel compelled to do so. He says to us, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” -Psalm 2:8…Ask and I will. Not ask and I might. Not Ask and I will put it ahead of you to run after and catch. Ask and I will.

In Christ alone, always and forever,


For full coverage of Brittany’s valedictorian speech, click here.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Way to go Brittany!
    If everyone who claimed the name of Christ in America made the same stand for truth as you did, America would be a differant place.
    But since it isn’t that “differant place,” thank you for the great example you have set to all of us Rebelutionaries.
    Right now, America is engaged in a huge culture war for the mind and soul. It will only be won by people like you who have the guts to make the stand and make God the issue.

  • Praise the Lord she stood up as she did! Thank you Brittany for your courage. It’s an inspiration to me to keep standing up for the truths of the Bible, giving a reason for the hope that is within me, with all gentleness and reverence.

    The world says Christians are insane. “There is religious and then there is just crazy,” said a recent commenter on my blog. I simply replied that I would rather be called crazy in this life than suffer the tortures of the Lake of Fire eternally!

  • That is an amazing witness and testamony of someone standing up for their faith. Thank you Brittany, I do not know many people who would not have simply knuckled under, we need some more of what you did in today’s world.
    Hey Brett and Harris, thanks a lot for linking to me.

  • This is kind of an interesting issue because my fiancee and I gave a joint speech at our graduation. We didn’t mention God or christianity but did talk about christian values. I sort of struggled later about that, and I’m open to criticisms about it but I don’t think it was wrong to not mention God or the gospel, because though we are obligated to preach the gospel, I don’t know that we are obligated to preach it in every context. I do think that the school officials were wrong to do what they did with Brittany, their reasons were totally bogus. But is the culture the primary turf war? Our graduation was a small art school where most of our peers knew we were christians, and I know that if it was wrong to not mention God in a graduation speech, that is not an excuse, but is taking a public stand the primary realm to stand up for the truths of the Bible? Its wrong that we are called insane, and limited in speech, but I think I probably differ with JoAnna’s response above in that I don’t think ‘rather be crazy than in hell’ is a gospel interaction (questioning the person about what they believe and interacting with that would be)–its a culture war interaction (which I think can be opposing to the gospel, isn’t necessarily, but can be).

    Do you think I was right to not mention God? Should I have mentioned my faith even if I didn’t give a full gospel call?

  • Bill Melone:
    While I haven�t read your speech, I would like to offer a proposition based on what you said in your comment. Then, I would like the constructive critics to comment. You wrote, �we didn�t mention God or Christianity, but did talk about Christian values.�
    I believe your questions were:
    1. Is taking a public stand the primary place to stand up for the truth of the Bible?
    2. Was I right not to mention God?
    3. Should I have mentioned my faith even if I didn�t give a full gospel call?
    The first question: It really depends on what you mean by �public.� If by �public� you mean public speaking behind a pulpit to a hostile audience, my answer would be �no,� and my proposition is that our primary witness is not carried out behind the pulpit or on stage, but rather in how we live. In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says that people will know the followers of Christ by how they live (�works�) Jesus does not say that we will be know for our Speech and Communications skills. Rather, they are tools that help us �give reason for the hope that is within us.� (I Peter 3:15)
    Now onto questions 2 and 3: Because you said: �we didn�t mention God or Christianity, but did talk about Christian values,� I believe that it would have been better to mention God. Here is why:
    Preaching morals without the moral-giver makes the morals simply opinions. Values become �preferences.� This is because once God is removed, all men have to look to for guidance is themselves. Without a perfect God, the standard of perfection vanishes. In the same way, you discussing �values� without the value giver lends no weight to your words.
    I am not saying that God must be the issue for every speech we make. It is perfectly fine for anyone to give a speech on art, politics, etc. But when we preach a value�that value (or value system) must be backed with where the value(s) came from.
    It makes sense that if you are going to mention Christian values, to also proclaim the Christ who gave them.
    I am not the greatest communicator, particularly in writing; I am “just not a writing person.” In fact, my first speech �nearly killed me� (as Brett Harris says in his article: “My first shower nearly killed me). I hope that even if I am disagreed with, my point will make sense.

  • I am reposting my reply here, since this is where people seem to be…

    I agree that Brittany had a great speech, it just wasn’t right for that situation. Brittany was under the authority of the school, and they have to have guidelines. What if someone believing in Muhammad went up there and started preaching? We would want to silence him too. If she mentioned God and Christ once or twice, talking about how He changed her life that would be fine. But when she starts to elaborate, then there is a problem. She didn’t stay by her word to stick to her approved speech. In a sense, it didn’t give God glory, she disobeyed the rules, and went against her authority. What will the school authorities think now, if someone tries to tell them about the love of God, and how He changes lives? The possibility is very high that they will remember Brittany, and how she disobeyed her authority and lied, yet says she is a Christian. It did God an ill-favor; I think.
    Does anyone agree?

    “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. ” Romans 13:1-2

  • Andrea,
    Would you mind telling us:
    1. Why you would like the Mohommed preacher silenced
    2. Could you cite a referance to where Brittany promised to stick to the school approved speech?
    3. Were the apostles right to defy the rulers of the Jews in Acts 5:29 and thus “obey God rather than man?”

    I’d would appreciate your input.

  • In an attempt to let our readers discuss the issues themselves, I won’t offer much input on Andrea’s question (yet). However, she is correct that Brittany originally agreed to give the edited version of the speech. It also appears that the McComb family attempted to communicate with the school district attorney before the ceremony, without success.

    See the excerpt below from the transcript of her interview on the Today Show on NBC:

    NBC: We just heard the attorney for the school say in the piece that they had spoken to you about delivering the edited version and you had agreed. Is that true?

    Brittany: I felt that I was sort of backed into a corner between wanting to say what made me successful in high school and what got me through the hard times and got me to where I was as valedictorian and then trying to heed to their authority also, so I felt backed into a corner and I did say that I would.

    NBC: So when did you decide, “You know what? Forget it, I’m going to go for it.”?

    Brittany: Well, we had our attorney try to contact the district attorney and they took quite a while getting back to us, so it was hard to say, but when it got pretty close to the ceremony and we hadn’t heard anything back from the attorney I decided I would memorize it and just say it as it was written because it was who I was, it’s who I am.

  • This is an interesting discussion. Andrea brings up an interesting tension between earthly and spritual authority. Alex, her admission changes my thoughts a little on this matter. Thanks for posting it. I’ve been mulling this whole situation over in my head for a few days now. Thanks for the links.


    BTW the links on my blog are fixed. I thought I had done that, my apologies for the oversight.

  • Alex,

    Brett left a comment about the one under the Blog Awards. That’s the one I was referring to. I went back and fixed the other one as well. Again my apologies. Keep up the good work!


  • Thanks Alex for your input, for that is exactly what I was going to say. Anyway, in reply to your questions Agent 507,

    1: In the right forum I would not silence anyone preaching their beliefs, be it Mohammed, Buddha, the environment…etc. But this graduation ceremony is not the right forum for this, because the school authorities had set up the guidelines for their speeches. Brittany gave her word, then went against it, which I believe gave God a bad name. Shouldn’t a Christian more than a non-believer stick by their word? God’s Word says “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” (Matt. 5:37)

    3: In Acts it is the right forum. The Sanhedrin were priests of God who should have known the truth and didn’t. In 1 Timothy chap. 4, Paul is telling Timothy to point out false teachers, and teach the truth. That is what the apostles were doing in Acts. God’s church is not under the authority of any government. This graduation ceremony is under the authority of the school authorities. It’s not a church or the public square.

  • Andrea: I concur that Brittany �breaking� her initial agreement to give the edited speech does cast a shadow on her testimony. (Currently I haven�t read up on all the facts, so I can�t offer a complete response.) I was intrigued, however, to see that �the McComb family attempted to communicate with the school district attorney before the ceremony�. I don�t know exactly what that means, but it may change the situation somewhat.

    Mr. Malone, I�d like to attempt a reply to your comment�out of courtesy to your honest question and because what you asked should make all of us think. And think hard. =)

    Here are a few things to consider in such a situation:

    First, we need to evaluate our motives for what we do or don�t do. If I refrain from directly mentioning God�then why? Is it because I discern, after prayerful consideration of Scripture�s precedent, that doing so would genuinely harm God�s kingdom? Is it a situation in which Jesus would have refrained from speaking about Himself or speaking of God? Conversely, do I shy from making bold statements about my even bolder Savior because I fear a reaction? I realize these are hard questions, ones I�ve got to grapple with myself. Personally I tend to believe that if I truly have the kingdom of God on my heart, if Christ�s glory is really my consuming passion, and if I share His burden for the darkened souls around me�then why would I not take the opportunity to make Christ known?

    Second, Scripture seems to expect a level of Christian boldness (or zeal, outspokenness, etc.) virtually unmatched by any other creed or person in history. In 1 Timothy Paul urges us repeatedly to �not be ashamed��interwoven with numerous references to suffering and affliction�strongly implying that nothing has the right to interfere with our verbal communication of truth. (This does not, however, negate the great need for graciousness, tact, wisdom, and integrity as seen by the rest of Chapter 2.) Elsewhere Paul uses vivid and convincing battle imagery to describe the commitment of effective Christians. As to mentioning our faith but not necessarily giving a gospel call�wow, that would take a lot more thought.

    Third, somewhat along the lines of Agent 507�s point, we have to be extremely careful what message we send to a relativistic, brainwashed, politically-correct world already prejudiced against God. If I talk openly about values but not the sole, supreme Source of values, it�s not only spiritually unhelpful (and almost certainly damaging) to others, but it only cements the image of Christians as laughable religious wimps. Worse, my cowardice reflects on God, whose name ought to be declared from housetops with every ounce of my breath, but instead receives unfathomable distortion through what I *refrain* from doing.

    Hope this is of use. Imagining myself in that situation impresses me with the difficulty of such a decision. It takes God-given, Scripture-sharpened discernment. Ultimately God rules, and what He

  • (My comment must have been too long. =D Here�s the rest of it.)

    What God says should guide our actions (not what the world says or what I say). Whatever you determine about your actions, Mr. Melone, let it serve only to strengthen your commitment to Christ. God bless!

  • As further food for thought and discussion regarding Brittany’s speech, her father elaborated a bit more on Brittany’s reference to their attempt of contacting the school district:

    Mike: When they brought the attorney from the school district involved, I brought my attorney in who represents my businesses. We didn’t understand why they didn’t want to talk to us. We wanted to sit down and talk to them. They would not give us the time of day.

    The only response I have found/heard about from the school district attorney (Bill Hoffman) to Mr. McComb’s lawyer (Theodore Parker, III) was a very brief letter, dated June 8th (possibly 6th), which you can read below:

    June 8th, 2006

    Re: Brittany McComb’s Graduation Speech

    Dear Mr. Parker,

    In response to your inquiry as to the basis for the District’s decision with regard to Brittany McComb’s graduation speech, please see Lassonde v. Pleasanton Unified School District, 320 F.3d 979 / 9th Cir. 2003).

    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


    Bill Hoffman

  • Thanks for the comments. Basically what was said about being bold for the gospel is what I was struggling with.

    My thinking wasn’t thorough at the time, but what I had thought through was that I felt I had been mostly faithful through college to share the gospel (lots of unfaithfulness as well however) on the grassroots level, and so had my fiancee. And being that the school is small and most people knew that we were christians, and not only that but quite a few knew that I was a serious christian that was aware of politics and stuff, I figured that many would know that if I brought up God, they would know that I would know that I was causing a controversy, and thus my witness would simply be that I was being controversial.
    The comments you guys gave on detaching the Good from good is what makes me think I should have at least tested the waters when my speech was approved–at least tested them for linking God to what was said.

    I think its interesting that the extent of Brittany’s speech was brought up–it seems to me that this has all become a controversy of culture rather than a controversy of the foolishness of the gospel. Maybe Brittany erred on the side of overstepping and I erred on understepping.

  • I may have given a false impression by saying “I simply replied that I. . . .” I did indeed say more to the questioner than that. I was only emphasising that one part. In fact I actually ended up giving the person the whole story of sin and the Gospel. The need for respectful communication of the Gospel is very true, and I do seek to communicate respectfully. (I am sure that, being imperfect, I do fail often at this 🙂

    KP, I think you said many good things, and I think you said them very well. ‘Twas a very good reminder and inspiration for me!

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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →