K-12 Charter School Bans God From 1st Grader's Homework
NEWS FROM PLANET BIZZARO
The 1st grade assignment was “Draw pictures of things you would take to a new home.”
The student included a picture of God as part of the drawing.
The drawing was rejected by a
K-12 Charter School home school facilitator because it included God;
Just another example of prejudice against religion on Planet Bizzaro.
The following was sent in by the always helpful APS-Mom
Karin Yoo. She writes:
Just thought you might want to add this to the “Bizzaro World” column. :) My friend sent this to me, asking me if I thought this was legal.
She belongs to a K-12 Charter School Homeschooling umbrella. I told her to join and get in touch with HSLDA because I thought this was craziness!
Again, I am so thankful that the Lord guided us early on to be a part of APS, and not go the public charter school route.
Thankful also for HSLDA and the work that it does! May God continue to protect and bless homeschooling in our country.
Karin’s home schooling friend wrote:
My public homeschooling facilitator said this history assignment from a state sponsored history textbook for first grade could not be submitted as evidence [of classwork] since ‘God’ was written on it.... However God was never mentioned in this lesson by me, the teacher. This was the student's own original work and creative expression.
Please note that the parent / teacher felt she needed to include: “God was never mentioned in this lesson by me, the teacher. This was the student's own original work and creative expression”.
Why shouldn’t a parent be able to mention God in a lesson taught to their own child?
Some would like to strip all mention of God from the marketplace of ideas, including public school home educational programs that receive state funding; However, many home schooling parents decided to start home schooling their children specifically in order to INCLUDE God in their kid’s education.
We must not allow the parental right to teach our children about God to be eroded by state funding, media bias or a downward spiraling culture. Teach your children well.
Remember the greatest commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deut 6:5-9
The story passed along by Karin Yoo is similar to one that happened at the end of the last school year (May 2015) as reported by Todd Starnes, host of Fox News & Commentary:
Students at Somerset Academy, a charter school in North Las Vegas, Nevada, were given an assignment to create a PowerPoint presentation about their lives and include an inspirational message.
12-year-old Mackenzie Fraiser included her favorite Bible verse; John 3:16. The familiar passage reads: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
But, the teacher explained to the class that none of the students would be allowed to use any Bible verses or quotations from The Book of Mormon in their assignments. The message was clear – you cannot be inspired by religion.
Mackenzie, whose father is a pastor, later said, “When I was told I couldn’t use a Bible verse, I was afraid I was doing something wrong.” She obeyed the teacher and removed the Bible verse from her presentation. She never mentioned it to her parents.
A few months later, the little girl received another assignment. This time, she was told to address the topic of self-esteem. She discussed the assignment with her parents, Tim and Kate Fraiser. They suggested she acknowledge she derives her self-esteem from having been made in the image of God. It was at this point that Mackenzie told them she would not be allowed to mention God. Her teacher had once again barred any reference to faith in the classroom.
Tim thought his daughter must have been mistaken, so he wrote an email to the school seeking clarification. The message he received was jaw dropping. The school confirmed that that teacher told students to refrain from using religious references. They said the teacher was simply following “school law expectations.”
“The U.S. Department of Education states that students have the right to engage in voluntary prayer or religious discussion free from discrimination, but that does not include the right to have a captive audience listen or compel other students to participate,” read the email from Assistant Principal Jenyan Martinez.
“When Mackenzie created the project with the expectation she would present the Biblical saying to the class, the matter became one of having a captive audience that would be subject to her religious beliefs,” she added. “Had the assignment been designed to simply hand in for a grade, this would not have been an issue.”
This answer did not satisfy the Frasisers. They contacted Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm that specializes in these sorts of legal disputes.
“Government officials telling little girls they can’t mention God is not the law,” said Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford. “It’s unlawful discrimination and it’s morally wrong.”
Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys represented the family. He said the U.S. Department of Education clearly permits students to use Bible verses in class assignments.
“If a school official tells students that their beliefs cannot be expressed in class assignments, it teaches them that religion is bad,” explained Mr. Dys. “This case really demonstrates why it is important to protect religious liberty."
After Liberty Institute contacted Somerset Academy and explained the law to them, Somerset Academy issued a formal written apology to 12-year-old Mackenzie Fraiser for denying her the right to use a Bible verse in a class assignment.
Liberty Institute has also been called upon to defend the religious rights of a public school football coach.
In another bazar and onerous example of prejudice against religion, a high school football coach in the State of Washington may be fired for his refusal to stop praying after school football games.
UPDATE 10/29/2015. Superintendent Aaron Leavell placed longtime coach Joe Kennedy on administrative leave after the coach refused to stop his post-game prayers.
Coach Joe Kennedy has prayed after his games for years. It is a simple expression of his personal faith.
The tradition started when he knelt on one knee at the 50 yard line for a brief prayer of thanksgiving after a game. He was alone, and the prayer lasted but a few moments.
The tradition grew as students began asking if they could join him after each game. Now, years later, players from both opposing teams voluntarily join the coach on the field after each game.
Coach Joe Kennedy has now been informed by school Superintendent Aaron Leavell that he will be fired if he continues the practice. The school has told him he can pray only after every student has left the facility and in a place where he cannot be observed.
Reporter, Todd Starnes writes:
A school district in Washington State has decided to play hardball with a football coach who refused to stop his mid-field, post-game prayers.
I received an exclusive copy of a three-page letter sent to Bremerton High School Coach Joe Kennedy from Superintendent Aaron Leavell.
The nutshell? Coach Joe must stop praying or he will be punished.
“Any further violations will be grounds for discipline, up to and including discharge from District employment,” Leavell wrote in an Oct. 23, 2015 letter.
I can only imagine what might happen should the coach have to call a Hail Mary play.
“I was really shocked, Coach Joe told me. “I went out of my way to accommodate them. All I wanted to do was pray -- and now I can’t even pray at all.”
For years the former Marine combat veteran would walk alone to the 50-yard line and offer a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing after football games. He drew inspiration for his post-game prayers from “Facing the Giants”, a popular faith-based film. Over the years, players and coaches from both teams would join him — on their own volition.
On Sept. 27 Superintendent Leavell fired off a letter to the coach warning him to cease and desist.
“Your talks with students may not include religious expression, including prayer,” he wrote. “They must remain entirely secular in nature, so as to avoid alienation of any team member.”
In his most recent letter, Leveall said the school district would be glad to provide a place for Coach Joe to pray -- so long as it was in private — “not observable to students or the public.”
“For example, a private location within the school building, athletic facility or press box could be made available to you for brief religious exercise before and after games,” Superintendent Leavell wrote.
To be clear, Coach Joe is forbidden from bowing his head, taking a knee or doing anything that might remotely be construed as religious.
“While on duty for the District as an assistant coach, you may not engage in demonstrative religious activity, readily observable to (of not intended to be observed by) students and the attending public,” the superintendent added.
That means he’s not even allowed to bow his head behind the bleachers where the kids are smoking pot.
Liberty Institute, the nation’s largest law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, is preparing to initiate legal proceedings against the school district — accusing them of religious discrimination.
“They’ve already punished Coach Joe by denying his request for religious accommodation,” attorney Hiram Sasser told me. “Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, they’ve already violated his civil rights.”
Superintendent Leavell stressed in his letter that the district does not prohibit prayer or other religious exercises by its employees.
“However, it must prohibit any conduct by employees that would serve as District endorsement of religion,” he said.
Sasser said the district’s argument is outrageous.
“What they are saying is he cannot pray by himself, he cannot simply take a knee at the 50-yard-line,” Sasser said. “That’s like telling a coach he can’t wear a yarmulke if he’s Jewish, he can’t wear a turban if he’s a Sikh, he can’t pray to Mecca if he’s a Muslim, he can’t wear a cross necklace if he’s a Christian.”
Late last week State Superintendent Randy Dorn released a statement backing the school district.
“It’s unfortunate when the actions of one employee affect an entire district,” Dorn said.
As if a football coach who prays for his team is doing engaged in some sort of criminal enterprise.
Dorn went on to suggest that teachers like Coach Joe are not good role models.
“School staff exercising their right to silently pray in private on their own is fine. But leading a prayer isn’t,” he said. “School officials are role models; leading a prayer might put a student in an awkward position, even if the prayer is voluntary. For students who don’t share the official’s faith, players, the official’s public expression of faith can seem exclusionary or even distressing.”
For the record, Coach Joe never invited anyone to pray with him -- especially students. They chose to participate by their own free will.
Sasser said the state superintendent does have a point - there are people in the state of Washington who feel disenfranchised — Christians.
“When they find out a coach can’t even silently pray at the 50-yard-line, there’s no greater message of hostility than that,” Sasser told me. “This is not a school being neutral. This is a school being hostile to religion - and we are going to hold them accountable.”
Provided Coach Joe still has a job on Friday night, he plans to do what he’s done after every other football game.
“I’m going to keep on praying,” he said.
There are countless other examples of the war begin waged against Christianity in education and in our culture in general. Just ask David and Jason Benham.
David and Jason are twin brothers, nationally acclaimed real estate entrepreneurs, and stars of Flip It Forward on HGTV, who were fired for standing by their Biblical beliefs about marriage.
David and Jason Benham write:
If you want to get fired, sued or lose your business in today's America, stand with Biblical convictions.
In Oregon, Aaron and Melissa Klein were found guilty of discrimination by the state and could face up to $150,000 in fines for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding.
In Wisconsin, a 15-year-old boy was reprimanded and reportedly punished by his school for writing about his belief backing the traditional family in adoption cases.
In New Jersey, a high school teacher was suspended for stating her Biblical beliefs about homosexuality on her personal Facebook page (while at home, off the clock).
In Illinois, a university professor was fired for saying that homosexual acts are “morally wrong.”
A grandmotherly florist in Washington State is being sued by the Attorney General of Washington for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding (to a man, who by the way, she had faithfully served and befriended for over a decade).
Grandma (70-year-old Baronelle Stutzman) summed it all up when she said, "Little by little, they are stripping us of any thought we might have, or any difference of opinion. This is our religious freedom at stake."
You know what—Grandma is right. Our religious freedoms are at stake here. The “tyranny of tolerance” claims that the sexual rights of some are more important than the religious rights of others.
First of all, we must draw a distinction between those that identify as LGBTQ and militant gay activists. When we were fired by HGTV for standing by our Biblical beliefs about marriage and life, countless men and women in the LGBTQ community reached out to us in support. We had, and continue to have, healthy conversations, even though we disagree. And isn’t that the point? We’re Americans—we can disagree and still get along. We don’t steal the rights of dissenters. That’s when all intellectual, spiritual, and civil progress stops.
Yet this remnant of militant activists refuses to tolerate dissenters to their lifestyle choices. And unfortunately, they have the United States Government in their back pockets (not to mention the media and Hollywood).
At first, homosexual activists wanted acceptance. Then they wanted appreciation. Now they demand celebration. It's not enough to live and let live, these activists are now forcing their lifestyle choices on everyone, even if it means bullying a 70-year-old florist. We’ve shifted from religious freedom to forced acceptance in America.
The idea of forced acceptance infringes on our constitutional rights as Americans. As Alliance Defending Freedom succinctly states, the First Amendment guarantees that the government cannot tell its citizens what they can and can’t say or force them to express a positive message about something they believe is morally wrong.
My brother and I are perfectly okay with a gay owned t-shirt company refusing to make t-shirts that say, “Homosexuality is sin.” And we’re fine with a Jewish baker refusing to cater an event on the Sabbath. And we’d certainly agree with the gun range owner refusing to let self-identifying ISIS members practice shooting at his facility. These are their Constitutional rights as Americans. Thank God!
But what activists are asking is to flip the coin and make Christian companies that are asked to do something against their convictions, like support same-sex marriage or abortion, comply with whole-hearted enthusiasm.
Isn’t there a double standard here?
The question is not should we as Americans be involved in the battle for freedom, the question is: are you willing to stand with courage at any cost if and when the battle comes knocking on your door?
So before it comes to you, here are a few simple things you can do to prepare:
1. Make up your mind. Decide that whatever the cost you will stand for freedom.
2. Prepare yourself. Get informed—don’t be ignorant of the issues and your rights.
3. Join the conversation. Speak up. Don’t be silent.
4. Separate ideas from individuals. You can disagree with someone’s idea and not dislike them as a person.
5. Be kind. Love triumphs over evil; don’t demonize others.
6. Stand strong. Don’t back down. Our children are depending on us!
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?”
Our liberties are God-given. And, as such, we must be willing to defend these freedoms no matter the cost. Now is the time for all Americans – regardless of our differences – to join hands in the greatest battle for liberty in our generation! It’s time to take a stand.
David and Jason Benham are twin brothers, nationally acclaimed real estate entrepreneurs, and the authors of the forthcoming book, "Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully" (Thomas Nelson, February 2015).
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values."
Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook