A lawsuit filed this week in federal court alleges that a Nazareth, Pennsylvania teacher confiscated a little boy's Valentine’s Day cards because they contained religious messages and a Bible verse about Jesus. Evidently, this is policy in the Nazareth Area School District. Are you already feeling a little nauseous?)
It seems the first grader, J.A. Abramo, was prohibited from distributing St. Valentine’s Day cards to his classmates because the cards contained a sentence about the religious history of the holiday along with the Bible verse, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
In early February, parents Donald and Ellen Abramo received a letter from their son’s teacher with instructions about the distribution of “Friendship Day” cards (also known as Valentine’s Day). The note also instructed parents to avoid attaching candy to the cards.
“Please remember not to attach anything other than non-edible treats or approved snack items to the Valentines,” the instructions read.
So instead of candy, the first-grader and his older siblings decided to include a message about the history of St. Valentine and the aforementioned verse sharing the message of God's love.
“St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love,” the message read. “In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves you!!!” The Bible verse from The Gospel of John appeared at the bottom.
When the day came to distribute the cards, the J.A's teacher “became concerned about the religious message.” The teacher immediately delivered the cards to the principal – identified in the lawsuit as William Mudlock.
Oh, yes, Nazareth Area School District is a stickler of being "politically correct." Floyd R. Shafer Elementary School Principal William Mudlock told Ellen Abramo that because J.A.'s cards were religious and might be offensive to someone, the school would not allow them to be distributed.
Principal Mudlock dutifully cited NASD Policy 220 on “Unprotected Student Expression." The principal then directed that the religious messages be removed from the cards and the cards were then placed in a bin. He believed the child was guilty of “proselytizing” his religious faith.
Mudlock reiterated that the cards could not be distributed because of their religious nature. Yet, one must realize the school was not distributing material of a "religious nature," rather the cards were passed out by students with their own individual rights -- the Abramos' kids.
Yet, the Abramos' three other school-aged children were permitted to hand out the notes with Valentines to their classmates, but only because teachers didn't notice their religious nature, school officials said.
The school is allegedly so hostile to religion that J.A. was scared to pray over his meals because “he is afraid of getting in trouble.”
Despite the controversy over the Valentine's Day cards, the school refused to back down, and the confrontation led to the little boy breaking down in tears.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Nazareth Area School District on behalf of Donald and Ellen Abramo and their son. They claim the teacher and the principal at Floyd R. Shafer Elementary School violated their son’s constitutional rights.
“He was very sad,” ADF attorney Jeremy Tedesco said, “It’s a terrible message to send to kids. There were cards with guns and skeletons, yet his religious beliefs are taboo?”
Gary Brienza, the school district’s attorney, replied, “Under the U.S. Constitution there is both a ‘freedom of religion’ and a ‘freedom from religion.’”
Brienza claimed that the Constitution prohibits a person from imposing their religious beliefs on someone else; therefore, the school district can restrict a student from distributing religious materials.”
And, if your blood is not boiling yet, consider this: It was discovered that boys and girls were able to distribute cards that included images of human skulls, guns and other weapons along with rub-on tattoos. Good "friendship" material, huh?
(Todd Starnes. "Lawsuit Filed: Jesus Not Welcome in Nazareth, Pa. School."
Fox News. April 10, 2014)
I believe in separation of church and state; however I more strongly believe in common sense and consideration for religious inclusion in public schools as long as it does not instruct students to believe in any specific doctrine.
For example, prayers for peace, justice, safety, and appreciation do not require mandatory participation from students. Bible clubs are extracurricular, voluntary, student-interest organizations that cater to general religious beliefs. These clubs do not insist members be of one denomination. Also, observations of holidays and graduations that include religious understandings and prayer are generally organized in non-offensive, elective assemblies.
I am not screaming, "We must put God back into public schools!" In my experience, He has always been there. It's just that some complain about their right to atheism so much that they consider reciting "one nation, under God" in any public school a violation of their rights. In that case, maybe schools should ban students carrying bills that read "In God We Trust" and spending them on school grounds.
When Nazareth Area School District and Floyd R. Shafer Elementary uphold their "politically correct" policies in such a manner, they become idiots. Even worse, they become idiots employed by the taxpayers who have the right and the duty to redress.
The major goal of education is to teach students critical thinking and problem solving as they pursue their own fields of study. To prohibit students from designing and distributing cards that inform others about history and that contain inoffensive, religious quotations as completion of their school-approved activities is proof of the institution's inequality and injustice. The school is actually teaching false judgment by practicing discrimination.
Mr. and Mrs. Abramo and children, I applaud you all for being creative and thoughtful. You correctly followed district directives, removed the candy from the empty slots on your cards, and showed great innovation in filling the cards with positive, insightful content. Nice work!
If anything, the offensive teachers and the "politically correct" principal should have rejoiced that some of their students had the ingenuity, the courage, and the conviction to express their views when they were asked to write a something as normally mundane as a greeting card, which by the way, in my book is still defined as "a message of holiday greeting, congratulations, or other sentiment, often with an illustration or decorations, for giving to a person on an appropriate occasion."
Abramos -- I see nothing wrong with appropriateness of your actions, nothing wrong in the message on your cards, nothing wrong with your sentiment, or nothing wrong in the manner in which you gave the cards to others.
Yes, folks, in, of all places -- Nazareth, U.S.A. -- Jesus was denied. And, ironically, the schools accepted St. Valentine with open arms. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you how clever it was of the school to disguise the popular Christian observance as “Friendship Day.” I guess Saint Val is OK operating there as long as he doesn't act like a saint and perform miracles, pass out candy, and go spouting off all of that other Christian mumbo-jumbo.
It's time to pray for change. Pray for the Nazareth Area School District and the lost souls in charge there. I know I am living in an ignorant, alien world. Maybe I should just close my eyes and go back to sleep.
From the Nazareth Area site:
"Our students will become collaborative, competitive, resourceful, and constructive citizens. Our community values of responsibility, honesty, appreciation for diversity, and a strong work ethic will be central in
our schools. The community, students, and teachers will work
together to demonstrate life-long learning."
Politically Correct Valentine's Day Card