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Police Dispatched to Stop 7-Year Old Boy from Reading Bible Verses at Public School

 

Officials at a public elementary school in Palmdale, California, dispatched a deputy sheriff after a first grader shared Bible verses with his friends at lunch.

Like many other loving mothers, Christina Zavala would send her seven-year-old son, Caleb, notes in his school lunch bag that included Bible stories. At the urging of his friends, Caleb soon began sharing the stories with them at lunch.

One of Caleb’s classmates excitedly shared one of the stories with their teacher, who then “informed Christina that [Caleb] could no longer read or share Bible verses or stories at lunch. Her note said, ‘Please tell your son that there is a separation of church and state,’” according to Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty nonprofit organization that is representing the family.

Ms. Zavala correctly informed the teacher that her son had a constitutional right to talk about his faith with his classmates during lunchtime. After Caleb’s mom continued sending the notes in his lunches, the teacher again publicly reprimanded him, causing him to leave school in tears.

Caleb was then told that he would have to wait until after school to share the Bible verses and stories with his friends, but shortly thereafter, the school again changed its policy, telling him that he could not share the notes while on school property. Caleb complied with the school’s demands.

Later in the day, a deputy sheriff, called by someone working for the school district, arrived at the Zavala family home, “demanding that [Caleb’s] note-sharing cease altogether because ‘someone might be offended,’” according to Liberty Counsel.

Yes, you read that right – the elementary school was so concerned about one of its students sharing Bible stories and Scripture with his classmates that it called the police.

“You have ignorance of the law, hostility toward Christianity, and a gross abuse of police power,” Roger Gannam, a lawyer with Liberty Counsel, said in an interview with Fox News.

Separation of Church and State

Does the First Amendment require schools to prohibit students from talking about the Bible or sharing their faith at school? Of course not.

One of the most commonly misunderstood principles of the American founding is the meaning of the phrase “separation of church and state.” Modern secularists falsely contend that separation of church and state – which appears nowhere in the Constitution – prohibits public schools from teaching Christian principles as truth in the classroom, bars legislators from appealing to religious principles in debates about public policy, disallows city council sessions and high school graduations from opening with prayer, and forbids schools and courthouses from displaying the Ten Commandments.

These assertions are incompatible with the vision and intent of those who framed our Constitution.

The First Amendment to the Constitution states, in part, that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Not only does the First Amendment preclude the establishment of a particular denomination, but it also prevents the government from interfering with a person’s free exercise of their religion – which includes the right of a first grader to share Bible stories with his classmates at school.

A report adopted by the U.S. Senate in 1853 defined “established religion”. For a religious denomination to be considered established, Congress must fund it through the national treasury, give special political rights to its members, and/or compel nonmembers to attend services and participate in its sacraments through compulsory attendance laws.

Obviously, none of the scenarios previously given rise to the standard of Congress establishing a particular religion or denomination – and the First Amendment in no way implies that a school has the authority to prohibit a first grader from talking about the Bible with his friends at lunch.

The Founders’ Vision for Public Education

Our current system of public education would be unrecognizable to the founding fathers that conceived the First Amendment. It is indisputable that they believed that public schools should teach the general principles of Christianity, including the Bible.

In a letter to his cousin John Adams, Samuel Adams wrote that the foremost purpose of education was

“Inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity and universal philanthropy, and, in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country; of instructing them in the art of self-government, without which they never can act a wise part in the government of societies, great or small; in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system…”

Fisher Ames, one of the primary authors of the First Amendment, lamented that the proliferation of textbooks in the classroom diverted precious education time away from the Bible:

“It has been the custom of late years to put a number of little books into the hands of children… Why then, if these books for children must be retained (as they will be), should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book?”

Similarly, Benjamin Rush, a prominent founding father commonly referred to by historians as the Father of Public Schools Under the Constitution, wrote in his essay, “A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a School Book,” that the Bible “should be read in our schools in preference to all other books.”

The U.S. Supreme Court once affirmed that public schools had a responsibility to teach the Bible and the general principles of the Christian religion. Chief Justice Joseph Story, writing the unanimous opinion for the Court in Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844), declared,

“Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as Divine Revelation in the [school] – its general precepts expounded… and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”

The founding fathers would be aghast if they could see a public school calling law enforcement because a first grader shared Bible stories with his friends over lunch. They would likely be equally concerned that the school cited “separation of church and state” as the basis for its actions.

If only our founders could see us now.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

 

Opinion: NARAL Should Pay for My Guns

NARAL should pay for my guns.  And ammunition, regardless of its members’ moral or ethical objections.

Every person now has an unalienable constitutional right to an affordable health insurance plan, which means that, pursuant to leftist logic, society has a moral obligation to provide this right to everyone at no cost.  Quality healthcare, they say, includes access to contraception free of cost to the patients, which must be provided by the employer.

The tradition of abortion rights is loosely found in the right to habeas corpus, which originates with the idea that one has the right to one’s own body. Of course, according to leftists, this right to habeas corpus includes any entity within the body, living or nonliving, attached or unattached.  We knew that this is Roe v. Wade’s interpretation because Planned Parenthood v. Casey confirmed as much a decade later.

This new “right” to affordable health insurance – derived indirectly from such fluid concepts like “body,” “person,” and “pursuit of happiness” – has been now deemed as “unalienable.”  The ability to utilize this sacred, “unalienable right” to obtain contraceptives and abortion is seen by many as paramount, superseding the rights of others to conscientiously object from participating in such programs. And because it’s an unalienable right, according to leftist reasoning, society has an obligation to provide it to everyone, free of cost.

Let’s be consistent with our logic.

The U.S. Constitution directly and explicitly guarantees every person the right to “keep and bear arms” – in fact, it was once interpreted as a mandate unto itself! By extending the logic of requiring employers to provide abortions or birth control in the interest of health and wellness, regardless of their objections to abortions and birth control, we should also mandate the distribution of personal firearms to ensure “the security of a free state.”

Any common man knows that enabling an armed citizen to shoot a madman before his work is finished can effectively prevent loss of life or limb, and resulting depression for hundreds of others.  The founders who guaranteed that right with specificity had the foresight to see what might happen if citizens were left unarmed.

Yet, because it doesn’t match the inviolability of the right to an abortion, the right to keep and bear arms is often ratcheted down by leftists in the aftermath of crimes.

The government has mandated coverage of ever-increasing abortion and contraceptive rights while suppressing the right to keep and bear arms.  Why must my tax dollars be used to provide health care, abortion, and contraception, but NARAL is not compelled to pay for my guns?

Christopher Fossedal is a guest columnist at FPIW.  

Congressional Hearings Begin on First Amendment Defense Act

 

A congressional committee is considering legislation that would protect the fundamental rights of those who believe in traditional marriage.

The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) “would prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals, associations, or businesses, such as churches and religious colleges, by denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification because they believe marriage is a union of one man and one woman.”

Worried that the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) laid the foundation to undermine religious liberty, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his dissent,

“Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage – when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing to only opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before the court.”

Passing FADA would be a great first step to reducing these concerns.

FADA is modeled after the Church Amendments, which were adopted after the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) that found a constitutional right to abortion. The Church Amendments protect the rights of those who morally object to abortion to act in accordance with their convictions.

In the aftermath of Obergefell v. Hodges, it is imperative that the government affirms its obligation to protect the fundamental rights of those who believe in traditional marriage. No person or religious organization should be compelled to betray their beliefs about marriage to maintain a tax-exempt status or do business with the federal government.

Sadly, this view is not shared by many progressives and LGBT activists.  Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Columbia Law School Professor Katherine Franke claimed that “while religious belief is absolutely protected [under the First Amendment], religiously motivated actions are not.”

The professor’s position is indefensible. This statement is comparable to saying that the First Amendment only protects an individual’s right to hold opinions, but not his or her right to speak publicly about them.  That has never been the interpretation or expectation about free speech in America.

Contrary to Professor Franke’s testimony, the First Amendment does protect the “free exercise [of religion].” Free exercise includes actions that are motivated by religious convictions. The government can limit these actions only when it has a compelling interest to do so. It is absurd to conclude that the federal government has a compelling interest to ostracize and punish organizations that uphold the traditional definition of marriage.

Our founders understood the danger of allowing government to interfere in religious beliefs, and they protected against that by ratifying the First Amendment. In a letter to a Presbyterian pastor, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I consider the [federal] government of the United States as [prohibited] by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.”

Jefferson continued, “In this enlightened age and in this land of equal liberty it is our boast that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws…”

Most Americans, including those who support same-sex marriage, would hopefully agree that it would be wrong for the federal government to discriminate against religious organizations because of their beliefs about marriage.

Religious liberty is too important to be relegated to a sacrifice on the progressive altar of inclusion and political correctness.

Support the First Amendment Defense Act

Even before the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to re-define marriage in all 50 states, conservative lawmakers have been actively working to build support for the First Amendment Defense Act, S1598 and HR2802, a bill that ensures protection for those who make decisions based upon their religious beliefs and convictions.

If passed, this legislation would protect those who support natural marriage, marriage between a man and a woman, from facing retaliation from the government. This legislation says that those who live according to the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman should be protected from losing grants, contracts, the ability to do business with federal government and it protects employers from potential federal discrimination.

Senator (R-Utah) Mike Lee, one of the members who introduced the legislation stated, “Regardless of where you come down on the issue of same-sex marriage, we shouldn’t allow the federal government to punish religious institutions for their beliefs about marriage.”

If passed, this Act would work to ensure that faith-based organizations such as churches, schools, businesses, non-profits, and adoption agencies are protected from discrimination and future attacks on their organization based on their sincerely held beliefs.

Though this legislation would not change the definition of marriage, this Act would protect those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. This Act recognizes that those who believe in natural marriage should be allowed to practice their conviction in the public sphere without punishment or fear of retribution.

Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) urges Washingtonians to immediately contact their Congress members, encouraging them to fully support the First Amendment Defense Act, filed under S1598 and

HR2802. For reference, you can check to see who has co-sponsored the Act in the Senate here and in the House here.

After reviewing, contact your Congress members and ask them to co-sponsor the Act or thank for co-sponsoring the Act. Congress members should be challenged to make the vote on this bill a priority. First Amendment Defense Act, also referred to as FADA, is one that will guard the land’s bedrock of freedom, religious freedom.