As I’ve pointed out numerous times on my blog, religious liberty is under attack here in America. People are increasingly being forced to keep their religion at home. What we’re seeing is the idea that you have freedom to believe what you want, but you do not have the freedom to express and act on these views publicly (well, at least not if you’re a Christian). The latest attack on religious freedom involves a 12-year-old Christian student in Nevada.
Apparently this young girl, Mackenzie Fraiser, was given an assignment in technology class that involved a slide with an inspirational quotation. She reportedly chose to use John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But apparently the teacher informed Mackenzie that students could not use quotations from the Bible or the Book of Mormon in their assignments. Reportedly Mackenzie obeyed her teacher and replaced the quote, but she apparently said, “When I was told I couldn’t use a Bible verse, I was afraid I was doing something wrong.”
Mackenzie was later given another assignment, this one on self-esteem. Her parents suggested she mention that her self-esteem comes from the fact that she is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), but she informed them that she couldn’t mention God in the classroom. Reportedly her parents then emailed the school for clarification and they allegedly received this reply:
The U.S. Department of Education states that students have the right to engage in voluntary prayer or religious discussion free from discrimination, but that does not include the right to have a captive audience listen or compel other students to participate . . . When Mackenzie created the project with the expectation she would present the Biblical saying to the class, the matter became one of having a captive audience that would be subject to her religious beliefs . . . Had the assignment been designed to simply hand in for a grade, this would not have been an issue.
So basically this student was told that she couldn’t mention Scripture or God in her class assignments. But this is unlawful discrimination against her beliefs! She is being made to feel like a second-class citizen because of her religious beliefs. As Jeremy Dys of the Liberty Institute reportedly said, “I think at the heart of this incident really is that students are allowed and need to be allowed to express their beliefs in their class assignments. If a school official tells students that their beliefs cannot be expressed in class assignments, it teaches them that religion is bad. So this case really demonstrates why it is important to protect student religious liberty.”
Now, the school has reportedly since apologized and told Mackenzie she can resubmit her assignment including the Scripture verse. So, while the school has apparently back-pedaled and upheld the law, this highlights a growing problem in our society. Individuals in America increasingly believe that religious liberty doesn’t extend to the public sector. Many seem to think that religious freedom is strictly a private matter—you can believe what you want, but you can’t express it. But that is not religious freedom!
Now, Fox News writer Todd Starnes made an interesting observation. He wrote, “A few weeks ago the Department of Education threatened to withhold funding for any public school that did not protect the rights of transgender students. I believe schools should be held to the same standard for religious students.” So the government is striving to protect the so-called rights of transgender students, but the constitutionally protected rights of Christians are an entirely different matter. Again, this is a pattern that we’re seeing increasing across America.
I want to encourage you to stand up for your freedoms, and if necessary, contact one of the public interest law firms dedicated to the defense of religious liberty (such as the Liberty Institute, Freedom Guard, the Center for Religious Expression, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian Law Association, the Christian Legal Society, the Rutherford Institute, or others) if you need legal assistance. Many teachers and school administrators seem to think that anything to do with God or the Bible in classrooms is illegal. This is simply not true! Students are free to express their religious beliefs under the Constitution, and this right must be upheld for Christians!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.