Thanks to your support, Advocates for Faith & Freedom was able to help Tracy Stevenson, mom to fifth-grader Ryan, when the principal improperly prohibited the student from donating a Bible to the school’s library. After consulting with Advocates, the parent met with the principal and gently informed her on the legality of the Bible donation. Not only did the principal realize she was wrong, but the school is now accepting the parent’s offer to donate more religious materials!
Ryan, the student, tried to donate an Action Bible to the library as part of the school’s ongoing “birthday program,” in which all students are allowed to mark their special day with a book donation of their choice. As part of the program, the book is officially presented during a class visit to the library and is specially displayed at the library’s new book kiosk.
As Ryan’s birthday neared, he decided to give the colorful Bible, telling his mother, “My friends would love to read this book!” But the fifth-grader and his mother were shocked when school officials rejected the Bible because of its “religious content.”
“He didn’t understand why it was okay for books about witchcraft and wizardry to be okay in the library, but not the Bible,” his mother said. “It was important to me to challenge the denial because I know the Bible is the Truth, and I cannot even imagine not allowing all students access to its pages. They may not have a Bible at home, but most kids at 11 know what it is; and if there is mystery of what it is, then why not be able to find it in the library? Isn’t that what libraries are for?”
While doing online research about the legality of Bibles in schools, the mom came across a similar case that Advocates successfully handled last year. In that case, we sent a demand letter to the Temecula Valley School District after second-grader Victoria Nelson was prevented from donating a Bible at her campus. Our letter extensively explained the legal provisions of the Establishment Clause, which “mandates governmental neutrality,” not only among different religions, but also “between religion and non-religion.” In essence, rejection of the Bible signaled a disapproval of religion to the student, a direct violation of the Establishment Clause.
The Temecula district responded by reversing its decision and Victoria was allowed to present her gift of the Bible. Often, as in this case, the demand letter consumes hours of research and writing and reads like the legal briefs submitted to courts. Advocates often publishes these letters on our website so others may use and benefit from our work.
After reading about our success in the Southern California case, the Massachusetts mother contacted us. Under the guidance of one of our attorneys, Marty Nicholson, the mother gathered research and case law backing her cause. “She helped steer me to the materials I needed to show my son’s educators that, yes, the Bible can absolutely be in the school library. I needed to research the laws and examples of the Bible in libraries,” the mother explained.
Armed with the information, the mother made an appointment to meet with the principal. “All through the process, I knew that this was really about educators trying to do the right thing, but they did not have the facts,” the mother said. “God steered me to take this on with love. It was about me showing and teaching the educators that, yes, in fact the Bible can be in the school, and I’d like to show you why.” “It was a great meeting. She was a good listener. She was surprised by all my material and mentioned that I had definitely done my research and admitted that she had not looked into it so thoroughly.”
Nearly a month later, the family received word that not only would the Bible would be accepted into the library, but the principal was also willing to accept additional donations of religious reading material from the family to add to the school’s library collection! Since the letter arrived during the summer recess, the mother vowed to follow-up after class resumes this fall. “I am newly reborn and the fear of talking about my faith was all stored up,” she said. “I had to break this down and have amazing faith—surrendering faith—to speak up on this matter, which is so important to me but may not be to others. By doing this, my son saw me demonstrate publicly my faith in God, that I believe that the Bible is Truth, and all should have access to it.”
We thank God for Tracy’s courage and hope that she will inspire Christian parents across the country. As this story shows, many educators across the country are simply ill informed when it comes to the constitutionality of religious freedom at public schools, and when provided sound legal arguments to support religious expression, many educators are willing to do the right thing.
We need your prayer and support more than ever. It sometimes appears that public institutions, the courts, and the government in general have licensed discrimination of Christians. Please consider partnering with us today so that we can continue defending our First Amendment liberties. Whether the interference of religious freedom is intentional or not, Advocates for Faith & Freedom remains committed to protecting those rights. Thanks be to God for His abundant blessings and sovereignty in all things.