A Kindergarten Student Takes a Stand for Religious Freedom

 

Parents should never be afraid to challenge their childís right to religious expression in the classroom. Thatís what one family discovered when their kindergartener ran into difficulty in the Buckeye Union School District.

A kindergarten teacher was reading favorite books the children had brought from home. After asking for a volunteer to suggest another favorite, one little boy suggested the story of Jonah from the Bible. His teacher immediately reprimanded him in front of his classmates and announced that his choice was unacceptable because the story had the word "God" in it.

After hearing about their sonís experience, the family contacted the Pacific Justice Institute in Citrus Heights, California to receive counsel for what seemed to be a matter of religious discrimination against their son. The Pacific Justice Institute gave the parents guidance in filing an administrative complaint with the school. Within a day of filing, the parents were contacted by the elementary schoolís principal who sincerely apologized for the teacherís reaction and informed the parents that a policy was already in place in the school to protect a studentís appropriate expression of religious freedom.

According to June Jantz, attorney and litigation coordinator for the Pacific Justice Institute, this sort of discrimination should never be tolerated, "No student, no matter how old, should ever feel afraid to compassionately share his sincere religious beliefs with his classmates in appropriate times and manners. We applaud the courage and testimony of this kindergarten student and his mother in standing up for their right to read the boyís chosen religious book in class."

No one will ever be sorry for taking a stand for religious liberty in America, no matter how young or old that person may be. If this nation is to keep its commitment to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, it must become more tolerant of religious freedom.

("School Preserves Right of Free Speech for Kindergarten Student," Pacific Justice Institute Press Release, July 12, 2001)

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