Saturday, April 19, 2008
District bans 'John 3:16,' promotes demonic leer:Court filing seeks elimination of penalties for Christian art
A court in Wisconsin has been asked to suspend immediately a policy in the Tomah Area School District that bans Christian symbols in students' artwork, but allows Hindu, Buddhist and satanic representations.The motion was filed yesterday by the Alliance Defense Fund, which has taken on the case of a student identified by the initials A.P.The ADF launched a lawsuit on the student's behalf after a teacher refused to give him a grade on a project because his work included "John 3:16" as well as "As a sign of love".The school district, however, openly acknowledged and publicized various pieces of art representing Buddhism, and Hinduism as well as several demon faces that appeared satanic.The school defended its actions:"Respect for the beliefs of a diverse student population … requires that the district treat all students equitable and fairly regardless of their faith," it said in a website statement."To meet our responsibilities, students are required to follow the rules of conduct for their classrooms and the instructions that their teachers give them for class assignments. While the district respects all students' religious freedoms, those freedoms are not a license for students to force the school to display religious messages of their choosing…"The ADF said the teacher's grading policy banned depictions of "blood, violence, sexual connotations, [or] religious beliefs."But in practice it was a discriminatory policy, the ADF said in a court motion seeking an immediate injunction against the school."Allowing demonic depictions by some students while prohibiting Christian religious expression in artwork by others is a blatant violation of the Constitution," said David Cortman, senior ADF legal counsel.The lawsuit was filed late last month after the student's artwork was rejected, then he was told he had signed away his First Amendment rights at the beginning of the semester in order to participate in the class.The ADF's motion noted: "While penalizing A.P.'s religious express, defendants prominently displayed in the school's hallway a large painting of a six-limbed Hindu woman riding a swan figure...Elsewhere, on a hallway bulletin board, there hangs a drawing of a robed sorcerer."The law firm said the district displays artwork reflecting Hindu, Buddhist and satanic themes all over."It is displayed in classrooms (including the very classroom where district officials met to reiterate to A.P. that his Christian religious expression warranted no constitutional protection)," the law firm said.The lawsuit names as defendants the school district, administrator Robert Fasbender, assistant principal Cale Jackson, and faculty members Julie Millin and Margi Genrich."The fact that the student was not only refused a grade on the project, but given two detentions creates "a draconian atmosphere...that evinces a manifest hostility toward Christianity," ADF said.No such "waiver" of the student's First Amendment rights is applicable, either, the firm said."A waiver for First Amendment rights will be found only on the basis of clear and compelling evidence that the party understood his rights and intentionally relinquished or abandoned them," the law firm argued."At the time he signed the policy, A.P. had no idea that it would be so restriction of religious expression in the class...And the facts show that at the time that A.P. signed the policy, he did not think that including something like a small cross, or a simple scripture verse reference, would be subject to censorship…"Further, the student is a minor and was denied the opportunity "to seek advice from counsel" before being required to sign, ADF said."An incredible fact in this case is that in the very same room in which defendants Jackson, Millin, and Genrich conducted their parent-teacher conference with A.P. and his family-and reiterated their policies banning student religious express in class assignments-defendants displayed student drawings of the Greek goddess Medusa; a demonic figure with horns, scales, and protruding tongue; several demonic masks; and a drawing of the Grim Reaper, holding a scythe," ADF said.The injunction is needed immediately because of the passing of time and loss of grades for the student, the law firm said."Here, the school permits some religious expression in its classrooms and hallways, so long as it is not Christian religious expression," the ADF said.
As in the days of Noah...