A Bible in the backpack is NOT contraband!
Monday, August 28, 2006
This is back-to-school week for area schools. During the children's sermon last Sunday, the visiting pastor held up a Bible and said, "This book is banned from school." His point was to teach the children that when circumstances prevent them from carrying their Bible, they can still carry the Word of God in their heart. However well intentioned, I believe it was a mistake to promulgate the myth that the Bible is illegal in school. A generation of children, not to mention their parents, have fallen for the lie that Christian literature and all forms of religious expression, when initiated by the student, are prohibited in the classroom.

For more than 35 years, the Supreme Court has held the position that students do not leave their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, has argued and won cases before the Supreme Court protecting students' rights. His website (www.aclj.org) includes many excellent resources on the issue of student education rights. For instance, did you know that "teachers and administrators cannot justifiably stop students from discussing their religious beliefs in school so long as the students are not disrupting school order and discipline?" School officials are not allowed to interfere with students who share religious materials with other students outside of the classroom. It's okay to pass out tracts between classes, during lunch, at recess and on the school bus! Schools cannot discriminate against student religious activity or speech.(See the ACLJ's Federal Constitutional Rights of Students)

This also means that students have the right to write and share essays and poems with religious themes,without restriction, when students are free to choose their own topic. Under the Department of Education's own guidelines teachers cannot prevent students from reading their work on Jesus or expressing their Christian faith in front of the class.

Even the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), which fights all sorts of religious Christian expression and symbols on public property, admits that students' rights to religious expression are protected.

This year, make a point to encourage your child or grandchild to carry their Bible to school for free-reading time. Better yet, suggest they choose Biblically-themed books for their "your choice" book reports. And if the teacher vetoes their work, you now have the information to set the teacher straight.
posted by K. Geffert | 9:18 PM | 7 comments links to this post
© Copyright 2006 Karen Geffert.