Ten Commandments Are Hate Speech

A teacher at Lynn Lucas Middle School in the Houston, Texas, area reportedly shouted, "This is garbage,' as she threw two students' Truth for Youth Bibles in a trash can. According to Liberty Counsel's report, the two sisters were carrying the Bibles when they walked into their classroom one morning, where their teacher met them at the classroom door. She noticed the Bibles and promptly escorted the students to the principal's office. She then paged the girls' mother and threatened to call child protective services because the Bibles were not allowed on school property. One of the girls became hysterical at the teacher's bizarre behavior. When the mother arrived, the teacher waved the Bibles at her and exclaimed, "This is garbage," then threw them into the trash can. She said the girls could not bring Bibles to school. In a separate but similar incident at the same school, officials confronted three students whose books had the Ten Commandments displayed on the covers. They threw the covers in the garbage, claiming the Ten Commandments were hate speech that might offend other students. Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction and damages against the school board officials. School officials denied the claims.

Distribution is just one of the many ways the Bible can get you into trouble in public schools today. Some schools also prohibit students from discussing stories from the Bible in class. Elizabeth Johnson, an eleven-year-old sixth grade student in the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, chose to do a report on the Book of Exodus for her assigned oral book report. "I like the Bible, so I chose that," she said. The teachers stopped her, saying that some students might find the Bible "offensive." She was even told that she couldn't bring her Bible to school. The incident deeply upset the little girl, who said, "After that I felt like I never wanted to choose the Bible I should never choose the Bible and it didn't make me feel so good." After attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund got involved and word reached the media, the school district reversed itself and allowed Elizabeth to do her book report." A jubilant Elizabeth explained later, "I just wanted to do how he [Moses] rescued the slaves, and how he was born."

A similar event occurred in Medford, New Jersey, where first grader Zachary Hood was denied permission to read his favorite Bible story to classmates at the Maurice & Everett Haines School. Zachary's teacher said he would only be allowed to read the story to her in private. Zachary's mother, Carol Hood, filed a lawsuit on his behalf through the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty that was ultimately settled for $35,000. Even after the case was settled in the Hoods' favor, school officials were defiant, even cocky. Superintendent Susan Mintz said the decision to settle was made by the district insurance provider and that she was confident the district would have prevailed had the case gone to trial. "We would have won without question," said Mintz.

It's not just the Bible, but Christian books in general that distress some public educators. Laura Greska, a seven-year-old second grader at Northwest Elementary School in Massachusetts, brought the book The First Christmas to class to fulfill an assignment about her family's Christmas traditions. Sounds straightforward enough, right? Think again. The book centered on the birth of Jesus Christ and was thus "religious," so Laura was forbidden to share it with the class.

Laura's parents were appalled at the school's attitude toward Christianity. "They teach tolerance, which is great," said Laura's mother, Jessie Greska, "but not on a Christian's behalf?" After unsuccessful efforts to resolve the matter with school administrators, the Greskas asked attorneys with the American Center for Law and Justice for assistance. Vincent McCarthy, the ACLJ attorney handling the case, made a telling observation. "The actions of the school district are not only unconstitutional," he said, "but send a disturbing message to all elementary school students-that religious beliefs must be treated the same way the school handles profanity or offensive behavior not permitted at school."

Another case extended the Bible-as-dangerous mentality a step further. Fourth grader Joshua Burton got himself into trouble for reading his Bible silently in class during free time. The teacher disputed this, saying Joshua was reading the Bible when he was supposed to be working on assignments, but once Joshua filed suit the school eventually agreed to pay the boy's $10,000 in legal fees.

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