Christians Fight for Rights in U.S. Schools

Brittany McComb was one of three valedictorians chosen to give a speech before 400 of her peers at her high school graduation in Henderson, Nevada, in 2006. But during commencement, when she began to refer to the Bible, God, and her faith in Jesus Christ, school officials turned off her microphone.

In East Brunswick, New Jersey, high school football coach Marcus Borden wanted to bow his head while his team offered a pre-game prayer, as it had done for more than 25 years. School officials refused to let him.

And in Colorado, 9-year-old Wade wasn’t allowed to deliver a report to his fourth grade class on his “hero” because he picked Jesus. Instead, he had to present it to his teacher in private.

These are merely a smattering of the cases being handled by The Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, dealing with the First Amendment rights of Christians. Brittany’s case, said John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, “is a very important free speech case that will affect the rights of religious persons across America. If government officials can extinguish speech by turning off microphones at public assemblies, then none of us will have any rights.”

None who are Christians, at any rate. Across America, Christians are being forced to keep silent in school about their faith in the God of the Bible. Yet U.S. taxpayer money is funding Arabic-language, Islamic education in a New York City public school; and Muslim students in many other schools are allowed to take time to pray to Allah.

“For years,” wrote Barbara Pytel, “Christian prayer has been banned in public schools. Now, Muslims are demanding prayer time and getting it.”1

Cinnamon Stillwell, a writer from San Francisco, California, who has appeared on Fox News, had this to say:

Islamists have taken what’s come to be known as the “soft jihad” into America’s classrooms and children in K-1 2 are the first casualties. Whether it is textbooks, curriculum, classroom exercises, film screenings, speakers or teacher training, public education in America is under assault.2

Coach Borden’s case was summarily disposed of in March when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to deal with it. In a press release, The Rutherford Institute explained:

In refusing to hear the case of high school football coach Marcus Borden, the Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling with chilling ramifications for coaches and teachers everywhere—namely, that Borden has no constitutional rights of liberty, expression or academic freedom in connection with his duties as a teacher and coach. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute, acting as co-counsel for Coach Borden, had urged the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm that the liberties secured by the U.S. Constitution guarantee Borden’s right to offer a simple, silent gesture of respect, whether he does so by silently bowing his head or taking a knee while his players say their pre-game prayer.

Brittany’s case is still pending.

ENDNOTES
  1. Barbara Pytel, “Muslim Prayer in Public Schools: Are Public Schools Accommodating Islam Over Christianity?” August 19, 2007 <http://educationalissues.suite101.com/article.cfm/muslim_prayer_in_public_schools>.
  2. Cinnamon Stillwell, “Islam in America’s public schools: Education or Indoctrination,” June 11, 2008 <sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2008/06/11/cstillwell.DTL&type=printable>.

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