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What if I told you that a little kindergarten student had made a poster that included a depiction of Jesus and the school wouldn’t allow it to be seen? And then, what if I told you that this had become a legal case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?
Would you believe me?
Well, it’s true. And I believe this case is a clear indication of just how fanatical the anti-religion zealots in our nation have become.
Let me give you a brief background on this case.
A kindergarten teacher at the Baldwinsville Elementary School in Syracuse, N.Y., instructed her students to draw or construct posters depicting their understanding of the environment. Little Antonio Peck fashioned a poster depicting children holding hands circling the globe, and people picking up garbage and recycling trash. But on one side of the poster, he included a depiction of Jesus Christ (without naming Him) with His hands stretched toward the sky.
Antonio’s poster was displayed for half a day in the school cafeteria, along with 80 other student posters. However, unlike the others, school officials had folded Antonio’s poster in half to censor the image of Jesus.
School officials said the poster violated “church and state” and would give the impression that the school was teaching religion, even though the poster was clearly a kindergartner’s artwork.
When the boy saw his poster folded, he says he felt ashamed, feeling he did something wrong that merited punishment. When school officials refused to remedy the matter, the Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel filed suit.
Last October, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 in favor of Antonio. The 2nd Circuit joined the 9th and the 11th Circuits in holding that public schools may not censor a student’s viewpoint on a permissible subject matter when it is responsive to a school assignment or program.
Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver says the 1st and 10th circuits hold that viewpoint discrimination in the curricular context may be permissible. The school district then asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand the appeals court ruling that said public schools cannot censor the religious viewpoints of students in class assignments.
What a mockery of the law this case is. This nation was founded by men who understood the necessity of respecting Judeo-Christian values, including public religious displays and religious speech. They would not recognize the America in which we live today – an America where little kids must go to court because they dared to put Jesus on a school poster.
This case represents fanaticism in action.
Mr. Staver noted that the school district “sent a terrible message to Antonio that his faith is not welcome, when officials persisted in censoring his artwork.”
He says it’s time that school officials learn a simple lesson – private religious speech, when expressed on public property, is constitutionally protected.
Antonio Peck, he said, “is an example of the maxim that one person, no matter the age, can accomplish great things when they stand for a principled cause.”
I’m glad to be on the same team as Antonio.
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