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The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Posts Tagged ‘student’

Teacher Tells Ten Year Old She Cannot Write About God

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on November 10, 2013

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Yet another American public school has tried to silence the voice of Christian students.

A ten year old elementary school student was told that her essay about God would not be accepted for her writing assignment and that the paper could not remain on school property.

Erica Shead, the mother of 10-year old Erin Shead said her daughter, a student at Lucy Elementary School in Millington, Tennessee was a victim of the hostility and persecution of Christianity taking place in public schools all over the country.

According to reports:

Erin Shead, a student at Lucy Elementary in Millington, Tenn., was told by her teacher to write about an idol she looked up to as part of a class assignment. The young student decided to write about God. She drew a diagram explaining why she “looked up to God,” one of the reasons being, “He is the reason I am on this earth.” “I love [God] and Jesus, and Jesus is His earthly son. I also love Jesus,” the 10-year-old continued. “God is my idol, I will never hate him. He will always be the number one person I look up to,” the young girl added.

When Erin’s teacher received her written assignment, she told the young girl that she was prohibited from picking God as her idol, and demanded that she start the class assignment all over again and choose a new idol. She was also told that her assignment with God as her idol must be taken home and was not allowed to remain on school property.

After having the first essay rejected, Erin then opted to make her essay about Michael Jackson, which the teacher approved. Her mother, upon finding out about this incident, took issue with the school. She went to her local TV news station to expose the anti-Christian discrimination. The station aired her story (the video is below).

“How can you tell this baby, that’s a Christian, what she can say and what she can’t say?” Erica Shead asked of the teacher’s actions. She met with the school principal Dr. Detris Cane about the incident but received no formal response on the school’s policy. Since then, the school district issued a statement to WREG –TV explaining that the actions of the teacher were not in line with school policy and that students are permitted to mention God in their school work.

Beginning and End has chronicled numerous incidents of anti-Christian discrimination in the American school system. A first grade student was forced to remove a reference to God she was reading to honor her deceased grandfather on Veteran’s Day. At a public college, a professor made students do a project requiring them to write the name of Jesus Christ on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and then stomp on it. And these are just two examples of the anti-Christian bias taking place in schools and colleges today.

Christian persecution in the United States | Double standard against Christians.
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The teachers at an elementary school in Kansas put up an image of the 5 pillars of Islam.

And as we have also chronicled, the bias is decidedly against Christians as public schools have accommodated Muslim students with all sorts of exceptions for their religion including foot baths, prayer rooms, a special prom just for Muslim girls and even changing sports practice times to midnight for the feast of Ramadan. Most recently an elementary school in Kansas made headlines for a huge display of the five pillars of Islam. In all these instances, it was the school itself promoting and accommodating a religion, not an individual student exercising their free speech rights. Yet in Erin Shead’s case, the mere mention of God in an essay was enough to be deemed inappropriate for school because of “separation of church and state.”

Prophesied Persecution

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12.

Jesus Christ prophesied that the Christians would suffer discrimination, bias and many forms of persecution all throughout the Church Age. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the name of Jesus are “ a stumbling block of offense” to those who have rejected The Lord. Pray for believers like Erica Shead and her daughter Erin to continue to contend for the faith and take schools to task who would violate basic rights of free speech and freedom in order to stop the name of God from even being mentioned.

Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. – Luke 6:21-23.

UPDATE: The Liberty Institute, a legal advocacy group that fights to protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of Christians, contacted the school on Erin’s behalf to explain to the school the legal error they were in barring Erin from writing about God.

“Of course students can talk and write about God in school,” said Liberty Attorney Jeremy Dys. “Young teachers, like Erin’s, have been barraged with so much false information for so long that they are afraid that a 10-year-old student’s coloring assignment might violate the First Amendment. That kind of intimidation by the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation is wrong and is precisely what Liberty Institute was founded to combat.”

After discussions with Liberty Institute attorneys, Shelby County Schools reversed the decision of their teacher and allowed Erin to turn in her original assignment about God. And, she earned an “A!”

Erin’s mother told reporters that she simply “wanted Erin’s right to be able to express herself not to ever be taken away again.”

“I just wanted every Christian to know that we have a right to be able to express ourselves,” she told the news reporter. “We understand that they’ve taken prayer out of schools, but they cannot take God out of our children.”

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Federal Judge: Teacher Who Punished Student for Expressing Catholic Belief Against Homosexuality Violated Student’s First Amendment Rights

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on June 20, 2013

news_img_3584ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center today announces a victory in their lawsuit against teacher Johnson McDowell of Howell High School in Howell, Michigan. Federal District Judge Patrick J. Duggan of the Eastern District of Michigan issued his opinion yesterday.

The Court declared the teacher’s actions in punishing Daniel Glowacki for expressing his beliefs against homosexuality violated “Daniel’s First Amendment rights.” In its findings of fact—the Court described how the teacher initiated a discussion about homosexuality. The teacher wore a purple t-shirt and was promoting the homosexual agenda. In response, the Plaintiff, 16 year-old Daniel Glowacki stated that homosexuality was against his Catholic beliefs. The teacher, admittedly, became angry and threw Daniel out of class because he disagreed with Daniel’s beliefs.

The teacher in the lawsuit tried to blame Daniel and claimed he caused a disturbance in the teacher’s classroom. The teacher’s claims were wholly unsupported by all of the other evidence in the case, including affidavits of students in the classroom and the teacher’s own earlier statements. The teacher also tried to argue that Daniel’s religious statement was tantamount to “bullying.” The Court dismissed that claim as well, holding that Daniel’s speech could not be silenced because the teacher did not like Daniel’s religious beliefs and viewpoint.

The Court’s opinion echoed the longstanding legal precedent that “students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969).

The teacher argued that Daniel’s speech that his religion did not approve of homosexuality was a bullying statement. However, Judge Duggan, citing several cases, disagreed (citations and quotations omitted).

While the Court certainly recognizes that schools are empowered to regulate speech to prevent students from invading the rights of other students, people do not have a legal right to prevent criticism of their beliefs or for that matter their way of life. Relatedly, a listeners’ reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. While a student or perhaps several students may have been upset or offended by Daniel’s remarks, Tinker straight-forwardly tells us that, in order for school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, they must be able to show that this action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint. Simply put, the law does not establish a generalized hurt feelings defense to a high school’s violation of the First Amendment rights of its students.

Thomas More Law Center attorney, Erin Mersino was the lead counsel in the lawsuit. It is expected that the teacher will appeal the decision.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, commenting on the favorable court decision, stated:

“The purpose of our lawsuit was to protect students’ constitutional rights to free speech, defend religious liberty, and stop public schools from becoming indoctrination centers for the homosexual agenda.”

The Thomas More Law Center originally filed its federal lawsuit back on December 14, 2012 against the teacher, Johnson McDowell, and the Howell Public School District. The claims against the School District were dismissed, and the Court held that the teacher alone was the responsible party.

The ACLU appeared in the case as amicus and supported Daniel’s position against the teacher.

Courtesy of http://www.thomasmore.org/

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