After Being Told He Couldn’t Compete, 5th Grader Wins Contest with Speech About the Harm Caused by Religion December 17, 2013

After Being Told He Couldn’t Compete, 5th Grader Wins Contest with Speech About the Harm Caused by Religion

Last week, I posted about how 5th grader Zachary Golob-Drake was planning to give a speech that could’ve earned him a spot as one of the representatives to the regional 4-H Tropicana Public Speech contest… unfortunately, the assistant principal at USF/Patel Partnership Elementary School (in Tampa, Florida) told him he would have to rewrite his speech or drop out of the contest altogether. The reason? His speech was all about the harms of religious extremism and how the Golden Rule should prevail… and it was deemed too inappropriate:

Zachary Golob-Drake holding his ribbon for winning first place in his class

School District Spokeswoman Tanya Arja said school officials told her that the controversy wasn’t about the religious aspect.

“The concern was over the topic of mass murders,” Arja said. “Because these are 4th and 5th graders.”

Zachary made a point of saying that mass murder was wrong, but let’s be honest: He was just talking about world history. Religion has contributed to those mass murders. Why hide the fact? (You can read the speech for yourself to see how “offensive” it really isn’t.)

There’s finally some good news: Zachary was allowed to compete with his speech and he won!

On Monday, he delivered that speech again and was chosen to represent the entire 5th grade at the regional 4-H Tropicana Public Speech Contest.

“I was so nervous,” he said after receiving another blue ribbon and gold medal. “I’m so happy and excited.”

She said four students left the room during her son’s speech. And three students left during a speech about [Nicki Minaj].

“It’s kind of funny that three of the four students who left during Zachary’s speech had already heard the speech last week during the class presentation,” she said.

In short, kids will walk out of anything. Whatever.

Good for Zachary for not backing down. He wrote a good speech, he delivered a good speech, and now he can take it to the next level.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • This is persecution of Christians at its worst, most pernicious form.

  • NoMoreDivision

    This kid’s got a good future…

  • tubi11

    Exactly. Telling the truth about the vile and destructive impact of their delusions is just so mean.

  • WallofSleep

    Taste that, Zach? That’s the taste of victory in the face of ignorance and stupidity. You earned that. Sadly, these moments are so rare in one’s life. Do savor it well.

  • kccoallday

    The religious establishment has been trying to silence critics for centuries for this very reason. Bravo to this kid!

  • Guest

    I would love to read the article, but some bullshit “scorecard” thing is in the way.
    Later gator!

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Congratulations, Zachary.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    What? Nicki Minaj is the antichrist or something?

  • kickinitincrik

    Let the kid speak. Who cares? Any sensible person who reads history knows that the worst mass murderers did not use religion as a reason for their mass murder. Assume that there is a natural connection between religion and mass murder is adolescent thinking.

  • peter taylor

    LOL Poe??

  • busterggi

    Yeaah, the Jewishness of the Jews had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

  • kccoallday

    You’re misconstruing the argument. The point is not that most mass murders are caused by religious fundamentalism, it is that religious fundamentalism is often used as justification for mass murders.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Well done kid. Well done.

  • Mick

    The boy titled his speech “In the Name of Religion”

    But the school added some negative spin by changing it to “Religious Beliefs Regarding Death.”

    I hope somebody is keeping an eye on Assistant Principal Candice Dodd. She sounds like a nasty piece of work.

  • Spuddie

    Now the school will take credit for its achieving student.

  • Richard Thomas

    You must be about 10 or 11 years old, because you have clearly never heard of this thing we had called 9/11.

  • Richard Thomas

    I’m sorry guys, but did anybody else catch the irony of “well, mass murder is OK for these kids, but religion? WAY too young for that.”

  • Guest


  • Richard Thomas

    If Nicki Minaj is the Antichrist then the Christ must be a pretty piss-poor god, that’s all I know.

  • EuropeanCommunist

    I’d go with sarcasm.

  • FlyingFree333

    Those kids walked out because their parents told them to.

  • $84687101

    I wonder what the Venn diagram of the kids who walked out of the two speeches looks like….

  • $84687101

    Good job, Zachary. Congratulations.

  • Malcolm McLean

    It’s traditional to depict Liberty as treading on the skulls of people killed in her revolutions. Anything that people feel strongly about can be used as a justification for killing. People take different views on the killing itself, some feel it’s justified other that it isn’t. But it’s not sensible to conclude that the cause itself is pointless or even wrong.

  • Or they had already heard the speech before and needed to go to the bathroom.

  • kielc

    This makes me smile. Congratulations, Zachary!

  • Richard Thomas

    Or more likely, they’re 5th graders and went to go play CoD

  • Where can I find this inappropriate you speak of Mr. Mehta. I read the story 3 times and I cannot locate it anywhere.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Another point is that theists are fond of claiming that there can be no morality without belief in God; so even pointing out that religious belief did not keep someone from committing an atrocity is a valid counter-argument.

  • Randy Wanat

    God commands mass murder. At least, the God of Abraham does. Pick an Abrahamic religion. The God in that religion’s holy book commands mass murders, and promises rewards for those who commit such atrocities.

  • Lilly Munster

    Absolutely. Well said.

  • Pofarmer

    What did Nicki Minaj do to anybody?

  • Lilly Munster

    Come visit the History and Theology Departments here at Berkeley. We will give you an annotated list of the Millions of Human Beings murdered because of Religion. Please don’t be deluded or misinformed on the facts. Perhaps you only count those murdered by religions other than your own? I can assure you, no one comes close to the Hundreds of Millions of Victims of Christianity, Islam and Judaism combined. Ask any Palestinian parent who’s children are going without medical care or medications in Palestine because Israel is keeping them in Concentration Camps, or the MILLIONS of Child Sexual Abuse Victims, the world over, for CENTURIES, by Catholicism. You will need a calculator.

  • LesterBallard

    Hip hip fucking hooray!

  • aaa

    Existed. Ugh

  • Artor

    Any word on what’s happening to the Ass. Principal? She should be reprimanded at the very least. Firing might be appropriate. She should not be allowed to blatantly violate a student’s free speech and walk away from it unscathed.

  • allein

    I wonder if one or more just had to go to the bathroom or something and chose to go while he was speaking because they’d already heard it in class.

  • $925105

    Next I want to see this kid and some pastor on an episode of, “Are you smarter than a fifth grader”.

  • virginiay

    Good for him!!!

  • Anymouse

    Thank you for saying that.
    I apologize for not adding substance to the conversation.

  • Jim T

    This is a much better version of ” stand your ground” I think.

  • kccoallday

    I don’t understand why you’re being so defensive on the topic. I don’t think anyone here is stating that religion has no benefits or that religion always leads to violence. It is simply being stated, as fact, that religion has been used to justify great violence throughout history. Many, many acts have been committed in the name of religion that otherwise never would have been conducted.

  • kickinitincrik

    You just demonstrated your own ignorance. Do you really believe that the Jewish state is waging a religious war on Palestine? Are you serious? Do you know how many Jews are atheists? Almost half of the Jews in Israel describe themselves as secular – they actually have a much higher rate of atheism than America. Do you know that the strictest sects of Jews refuse to fight? Did you know that many of the Palestinians are Christian? Is this what they teach you at Berkeley? Unbelievable. The problem with so many atheists is that their position is emotive and reactionary and it clouds their logic and even the most basic truths.

  • NoelleC

    In what school system can 5th graders just get up and leave? And did they get disciplined for being out of class without a pass?

  • Starbugger

    What a smart kid. I’ve read his paper and wow!–we should be proud that our lacking education system was able tomold such a dialed-in individual. He even has a cool name. Way to go, Zach!

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