Censoring John 3:16? Law Center earns Victory for Religious Speech

Dec 19, 2018 | 0 comments

Your partnership with the Independence Law Center continues to help keep the door to the Gospel open in places like public schools.

Picture this: Your 8-year-old is excited to go to school today because a party is on the schedule.  She printed a poem and her favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, and attached it to the chocolate peanut butter cups she will pass out to her friends during the party. You send her off to school, but later that day the school calls and tells you your daughter cannot give her gifts to her friends.

Now, you knew nobody in the class is allergic to peanuts, but maybe there is a new rule banning peanut products anyway?  No, the school says the candy is fine to hand out, as long as the Bible verse is torn off first. But why?  The school indicated that to remain neutral to religion, it thought it must prevent students’ religious speech.

Thankfully, this family contacted the Independence Law Center for free representation. We sent a letter to the school explaining that a student handing out a Bible verse to a fellow student does not establish a religion at the school.  However, by forbidding such religious speech, the school has not remained neutral to religion and, therefore, violated the First Amendment. Religious speech enjoys the same protection as non-religious speech.  Just because a child attends public school doesn’t mean they have to keep their religious beliefs hidden in their lockers.

After some fruitful discussions, the school now has a better appreciation for students’ religious speech and this 8-year-old is now free to share John 3:16 in this manner with her classmates. But it doesn’t stop there. The rest of the students in that district, as well as other districts that the school’s attorney represents, are now better equipped to protect student’s right to religious speech in school going forward.

People like this 8-year-old and her family are empowered to exercise and share their beliefs because the Independence Law Center exists – and that’s only possible because of people like you. It’s because of you that we can help keep the door to the Gospel open and allow for opportunities like sharing John 3:16 with public school classmates.

Independence Law Center is a Pennsylvania-based pro-bono legal organization dedicated to advancing civil rights. For help, call 717-657-4990.

This is one example of how you help people by partnering with the Pennsylvania Family Institute. Right now, we have an opportunity to head into 2019 even stronger with a generous partner presenting us with a $50,000 challenge gift. We’re getting close to meeting this challenge and I hope you will consider giving generously to our work. To donate, go to pafamily.org/challenge.