Once again we hear of a case where public school officials blatantly violated the First Amendment rights of a first grader because of his Christian faith.
A 7-year-old first grader at Desert Rose Elementary in Palmdale, California is happy young Christian lad, identified only as C. His mom, Christian Zavala would print out daily Bible verses and place them in her son’s lunchbox. At lunch, C began sharing his daily Bible verse with his friends. When his mom learned that he so enjoyed the Bible verses and sharing them with his friends, she started printing out short Bible stories to go with the verses. C’s friends really enjoyed hearing the Bible stories along with the verses. Zavala started printing extra copies for C to hand out to his friends.
Then, according to Liberty Council, who is now representing C and his family:
“However, when one little girl said ‘teacher – this is the most beautiful story I’ve ever seen,’ ‘separation of church and state’ was the response, and the notes were banned from lunchtime distribution. [C] was told that the school gate was the only location at which he could give the Bible verses to his friends, and only after the bell rang.”
C complied with the school officials and did as he was told. More and more kids came to him for copies of the Bible verses and stories. However, even that didn’t satisfy school officials. Melanie Pagliaro, Principal at the school went out to C at the gate and told him that he now had to take his Bible verse activity completely off school property.
Liberty Council describes what happened next:
“Later that day … a Los Angeles County Sheriff knocked at the door of C’s home, demanding that C’s note sharing cease altogether because ‘someone might get offended. C’s family then asked Liberty Council to help protect their child’s constitutional freedoms.”
Horatio Mihet, Vice President of Legal Affairs for Liberty Council, commented about the police involvement, saying:
“I would expect something like this to happen in Communist Romania, where I went to elementary school, but cops don’t bully 7-year-olds who want to talk about Jesus in the Land of the Free.”
Liberty Council sent the Palmdale School District a 5-page letter spelling out how their actions violate California state law along with C’s First Amendment right of free speech. Referring to California state law, the letter read:
“Pupils of the public schools shall have the right to freedom of speech, including but not limited to, distribution of printed materials. Expression can only be prohibited that is obscene, libelous or slanderous, and constitute a clear and present danger of commission of unlawful acts.”
“The district simply cannot prohibit student speech during non-instructional time, where that speech is neither lewd, obscene, nor indecent. Students are allowed to discuss a variety of topics during non-instructional time, including super heroes, television and current events, extra-curricular activities, and other things of interest to the students, including religious topics.”
“The district cannot suppress and censor this discussion, or the one-page notes consisting of Bible stories and versus placed by C’s mother in C’s lunch for his own personal enjoyment and edification; which he voluntarily chose to share with his little friends during non-instructional time; which interested classmates were free to accept or refuse, at their own discretion.”
“If being censured for religious expression by one’s first grade teacher in front of one’s classmates is not intimidating and humiliating enough, the message of hostility to a child’s religious expression is underscored by the district calling law enforcement for a ‘follow-up visit’ to his house.”
So far, the school district has not responded to the letter or issued any kind of public statement about the incident.
How many times have we heard of similar things happening to kids in public schools? But when is the last time you heard about a similar incident happening to a Muslim student for sharing his or her faith with other students?
In fact, the opposite is true. Public schools are being sued by Muslims for failure to provide a place where their students can pray several times a day and schools are giving in to their demands. Christian students are told to stop praying over their lunches on their own time while Muslim students are afforded special privileges to allow them to pray during school time.
It’s time Christian students and parents start standing up for their constitutional rights and stop schools, teachers and administrators from bullying them into silence. Instead of allowing atheist and socialist groups to sue schools to silence our kids, Christians need to file lawsuits to allow our students to boldly proclaim the name and glory of Jesus Christ.