In Memory of Rachel Joy Scott and
A Wake–Up Call to America's Youth

Funeral Transcript
Pastor Bruce Porter

April 24, 1999

Editor's Note: On April 20, 1999, Rachel Scott fell victim, along with 11 of her classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado to two gunmen who later took their own lives. Her testimony as a born-again Christian serves as the impetus for this powerful challenge to other youths across the United States.

This tragedy in our community has shaken all of us to the very core of our being. As I received communications, as we have ministered to the family, from literally from all over the world; people have sent in their cards and their condolences, their e–mails, and we all live in a state of shock at this time. It's a very difficult time for us. We have so many questions that are unanswered, so many things within our hearts that we're looking to God and asking him: What is your wisdom?

I would like to read to you Psalm 64 (NIV):

Hear me, oh God, as I voice my compliant; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from that noisy crowd of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear. They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, "Who will see them?" They plot injustice and say, "We have devised a perfect plan!" Surely the mind and heart of man are cunning. But God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down. He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him!

We've heard so many honoring words about Rachel. And many of you have seen the interviews with members of her family, and you've been touched.

I want to say, on behalf of the family, a heartfelt thank you for each and every one of you who have prayed for them and stood with them and the other families of this terrible tragedy that our community has endured.

We want to honor Rachel, primarily, here. But it's vitally important that we ask ourselves some hard questions: What has happened to us as a people, that this should happen to us? What is wrong that such brutality can take place among our children?

We want to honor Rachel, primarily, here. But it's vitally important that we ask ourselves some hard questions: What has happened to us as a people, that this should happen to us? What is wrong that such brutality can take place among our children?

I look at my own son and daughter present here today—a 16– and an 18–year–old—and when this terrible tragedy happened, I hugged them so long they almost needed CPR when I was finished, because I was so glad to see them. What has happened to us? How did we get here?

We removed the Ten Commandments from our schools. In exchange, we've reaped selfish indifference and glorified hedonism.

We've told our children that they were nothing more than a highly–evolved amoeba, accidentally brought forth from a mud pool somewhere in time. And we wonder why so many of them see no intrinsic value to life.

We removed prayer from our schools and we've reaped violence and hatred and murder. And we have the fruit of those activities before us now.

I want to say to you here today that prayer was established again in our public schools last Tuesday.


What the judiciary couldn't do, what the churches couldn't do, the children did themselves.


The Duke of Wellington once said, "If you divorce religion from education, you produce a race of clever devils." The young men who perpetrated this terrible crime were highly intelligent people. (It may interest you to know because they perpetrated this on Hitler's birthday, that over 40 percent of the German Gestapo had graduate degrees.)

There are many who say that all we need is better education. Let's throw more money at schools; let's have the Internet and computers, and then we'll be all right—but it doesn't touch the heart of our children. There's an issue of character here.

It's so simplistic for us to say let's remove the weapons of destruction from their hands and not deal with the hardness and depth of despair in the hearts. This can only be done as Rachel knew: by trusting in a loving and compassionate God.

I found an interesting quote from a school principal who survived a Nazi concentration camp, and he once wrote this advice to his teachers:

Dear teachers, I am the survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness—gas chambers built by learned engineers, children poisoned by educated physicians, infants killed by trained nurses, women and babies shot and burned by high school and college students. So I am suspicious of education.

My request is: help your students become humane. Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, educated Eichmanns. Reading, writing, arithmetic are important only if they serve to make our children more humane.

Rachel, as you have heard here today, personified the love and the grace of God. As we have come to know her and appreciate the commitment that she made to become a believer in Jesus Christ over four–and–a–half years ago, a conversion that was so powerful that the people who saw her when it happened said this was very unusual. Her commitment has been lived out before all of us, and she's been a light to everyone who knows her.

She was a warrior, but she didn't fight her war with guns, and with instruments of destruction. Rachel fought with the implements of love and compassion and caring mercy. She loved everyone she met. But as a warrior, Rachel carried a torch that was stained by the blood of the martyrs from the very first day of the church's existence…nearly 2,000 years ago. This warrior has now dropped that torch and gone on to her eternal reward.

Young people here today, hear me. I want to issue a challenge to each and every one of you. Don't despair of life. Don't despair of what's happened to you. Rachel carried a torch—a torch of truth, a torch of compassion, a torch of love, a torch of the good news of Jesus Christ her Lord, of whom she was not ashamed—even in her hour of death. I want to lay a challenge before each and every one of you young people here today: The torch has fallen from Rachel's hand. Who will pick it up again? Who will pick up the torch again?

Students, as well–meaning as our politicians have been, they couldn't protect you. As well meaning as our police—and I'm a volunteer fireman—we couldn't help you. The police did all they possibly could. The legislators had laws in place that should have protected you already, and the laws didn't protect you. And I want to ask your forgiveness on behalf of many of us who are parents. Forgive us because we failed you. We failed Rachel.

It's up to you. If you're going to take your schools back, you have to do it. If there's a stand to be taken, it can't be taken by politicians, as well–meaning as they may be, or by legislators or by the police or by even your parents. Students, you have to take the stand. It's your school.

I am hereby issuing a challenge to every student in every school across this nation. Pick up the torch that Rachel carried. Pick it up and hold it high and stop being a victim. Be proactive, speak to the culture you live in, declare a cultural revolution of compassion and mercy and love and foresake violence. You have the power within your hands, young people. We can't do it. We have failed.

I want to know right now who will take up that torch. Let me see you. Stand up. Who will pick up Rachel's torch? Who will do it? Hold it high. [Young people by the hundreds leap to their feet all over the auditorium.] Hold up that torch right now. If you are watching, from some other place, stand up where you are, stand up and say "I won't be a victim! I will lift that torch high! The love of Jesus!"

Allow this to be a rally cry [for] you to be who you are, and to take your place in destiny with a vision.

I want you to know that by doing that you've declared a revolution! You're not going to wait for us to fix it. You're going to do it! You have the ability and the power to change this nation. And I know you will do it.

We have now an awesome presentation. Rachel performed, as Pastor Epperhart said earlier, this mime, "Watch the Lamb." And the person who introduced her to it, Brooke Epperhart, is going to perform it for us now. Allow this to be a rally cry [for] you to be who you are, and to take your place in destiny with a vision.

God bless you and thank you.