Kindergarten Cops Rule: Witches In, Bibles Out

In Texas we recently passed a law, that is due to take effect on September 1, that allows school children to express their religious beliefs. It’s a shame we had to pass a law to dictate what should have been common sense. It appears that Pennsylvania could use a similar law.

A court decision that opens the doors of Culbertson Elementary School in Pennsylvania to books about witches – but rejects the Bible as being too “proselytizing” – is being challenged.

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund has submitted amicus briefs in a lawsuit filed when a kindergarten student, under an assignment in which parents were invited to read their child’s favorite book, was denied permission to have his mother read a Bible story.

A decision in U.S. District Court that sided with the school’s decision to ban the Bible reading, while allowing teachers to suggest reading books about “witches and Halloween,” effectively “sounds the death knell for religious freedom in public schools,” the ADF argues.

“By transmuting private religious speech into government speech, granting school officials carte blanche authority to determine what religious speech is ‘too religious,’ and holding that a school’s desire to avoid a perceived Establishment Clause violation justifies viewpoint discrimination, the lower court’s opinion permits a blatant violation of the Constitution,” the group said.

“The school’s decision to ban religious speech is nothing more than blatant viewpoint discrimination,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “This was not about proselytizing anyone,” continued ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “It was about letting students tell the class about what things are important to them, and the Bible is important to this student.”

The brief noted that the school allowed discussion of religion in the “All About Me” assignment. “Because Wesley liked to go to church, he created a poster that included a picture of a church with the words, ‘I like to go to church’ below it. This poster was displayed on the wall.”

But the Bible reading Wesley requested was rejected because the Bible promotes “a specific religious point of view” and the teacher instead suggested Wesley’s mother “read a book ‘about witches and Halloween’ instead.”

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