I am wondering about some of the rationale surrounding keeping any religious expression out of the schools. If my son, who is in second grade, decided he wanted to take Valentine’s Day cards with a Bible verse on them, would that not be just as acceptable as any other card? I ask this question because of the story from the Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, WI) describing an incident in an elementary school there where a 2nd grader was told he could not distribute his Valentine’s Day treat because it had John 3:16 on it. (Source – Sheboygan Press)
I understand I am biased, but even so this doesn’t make sense. In fact, the district itself even admits it has no written policy on this. It made the decision, according to the article, because of two reasons: 1) “The kids were expecting a Valentine and were not in position to accept or decline the message.” 2) Allowing this would open the door for other groups to distribute their messages. “If somebody wanted to put anti-Semitism in there people would be outraged by that.” – (Quotes of the Assistant District Superintendent from the article)
Why is it that every time something like this comes up, it seems like the same reasons are cited. The notion that this is on the same level as some hate group is not a very rational argument. Of course schools are not going to allow people to distribute hate filled messages. A commenter on this article said, “what if porn was being distributed. You would be upset about that.” Seriously? That’s the argument? There is a certain level of decorum and respect that needs to be maintained. I think that goes without saying. But look, John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to offer eternal life. It is a fitting Valentine’s Day message and certainly not hateful. The ultimate show of love came when Jesus died for the sins of mankind.
But, let’s just say that someone in the school is not a Christian. My guess is they would eat the candy and throw the note away without another thought of it. My son came home with all kinds of Valentines the other day. Are they all things I would agree with? Well, not really. Some of the messages are rather bizarre. But, he eats the candy and throws them away without even worrying about it.
What is religious freedom if not the ability to practice your religion freely? The schools have gotten so sensitive to this stuff that they are actually limiting the free expression of religion. Being a Christian is not something that people should just shut off the moment that they enter some sort of government-run building. It is who we are. The Declaration of Independence even states that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights by our Creator. It is woven through the fabric of our country, a thought many people have forgotten about. But, ironically the schools teach evolution as fact without a choice to accept it or not. If this argument that the administrator was making was legitimate, then we could say that students are in a position to receive instruction and they instead receive a biased view of how the world was created. Where is the uproar about that?
I know that some people will say that I would not be ok with my kid coming home with other religious messages. Truthfully, I would not have an issue with it if it meant that Christians could have a voice as well. When my son comes home with any sort of issue that is against what we affirm and teach from Scripture, we talk about it. If he brought home something from another religion, we would use it as a teaching moment. It certainly would not make me get up in arms. It is ok to hear different views.
The other part of this story that is interesting is the way it was handled. Here you have a 2nd grader who is completely confused as to why he can’t hand out his Valentines. In fact, the school confiscated them as if they were drug paraphernalia. They are bottles of candy with a rolled up note in them! Even funnier, a sibling of this boy at a different area school (charter) was allowed to hand them out without any incident.
School administrators need to lighten up with this stuff. Their job is not to protect kids from learning that Jesus loves them. Follow the law, sure, but don’t overstep the freedom of speech. There is no way this is against the law because the school did not promote any religion here.
I applaud the boldness of the family for being willing to share what they believe. People will not agree, but the least we can do is honor the freedom we all deserve under the Constitution.
I would be glad to hear your thoughts on this, provided they are respectful. What do you think? Am I overreacting? Is the school overreacting? Where is the line?
Story Source — The Sheboygan Press