First-grader, “C” Zavala, has had his Constitutional rights infringed upon by Desert Rose Elementary School and the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff. The seven-year-old boy was told he could not share notes with his friends that had Bible verse on them, under the misinformed guise of “separation of church and state”.
The notes were banned from lunchtime distribution. C was told that the school gate was the only location at which he could give the Bible verses to his friends, and only after the bell rang.On April 19, 2016, Mrs. Zavala wrote the school to correct its misinformation, but the only response was that C was reprimanded again, in front of the whole class, and again told to stop talking about religion or sharing his mother’s notes. C returned home in tears.
The Zavalas and C complied with the school gate directive, and soon, as many as 15 fellow students looked forward to the after-school Bible notes. However, on May 9, 2016, Principal Melanie Pagliaro approached Mr. Zavala at that location, and demanded that C only hand out the notes on a public sidewalk, far from the exit, off school property. The family immediately complied.
On the same day that the principal told Mr. Zavala that “C” could only hand out notes off school property, the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff came to the Zavala home.
They were (sic) demanding that C’s note sharing cease altogether because “someone might be offended.”
At this point, the Zavala family reached out to the Liberty Counsel for help in protecting their little boy’s constitutional freedoms.
This is a clear, gross violation of the rights of a child. That the school district enlisted a police officer to intimidate C and his family makes this case even more outrageous. “I would expect something like this to happen in Communist Romania, where I went to elementary school, but cops don’t bully 7-year-olds who want to talk about Jesus in the Land of the Free” said Horatio “Harry” Mihet, Esq., Vice President of Legal Affairs & Chief Litigation Counsel of Liberty Counsel.
These encroachments on the religious freedom, aimed at students are not a new issue. Since the Supreme Court removed prayer and Bible from the public school system in Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962); Abingdon v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), students have had to fight for their protected right to practice their religion.
Between 1960 and 1990, the pendulum had swung too far towards the “wall of separation” as teachers and school district personnel, perhaps fearful of disobeying the law, tried to purge public school classrooms of everything religious.
Congress passed the Equal Access Act in 1988 to stop the censorship of private religious activities that occurred in public schools in the aftermath of the Supreme Court school prayer cases. Court decisions since then have emphasized the free speech rights of students in the public schools, even in the controversial area of religious expression. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, contained in the Bill of Rights, says that there may be no establishment of religion by the Government. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The government may not favor one religion over another, or as now interpreted by the courts, may not favor religion over non-religion. This provision of the Constitution is applied to states as well as to the federal Government.
Obviously, there is still a very strong need to battle against the secular interpretation of the First Amendment. Young “C” Zavala may be the youngest American school boy to be bullied by police and school administrators for sharing his love of the Bible with others.
Source: Liberty Council