Mackenzie Fraiser is a 12-year-old charter school student at Nevada’s Somerset Academy near Las Vegas. When she was given an assignment by her teacher to do a Power Point entitled, “All About Me,” she included a Bible verse in the slides.
“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.”
Mackenzie included the verse because it was one of her favorites and it conveyed something important to her, which was the point of the assignment.
However, when she turned it in, her teacher said it could not be accepted with the verse included. She removed the slide at the teacher’s instruction, not wanting to make waves. However, it bothered her that she couldn’t include this in a project that was supposed to be about her and what was important in her life.
When she informed her father Tim Fraiser, 37, pictured above left and a pastor at Grace Point Church, things started to escalate.
Tim argued that the verse was important to his daughter and by suppressing that, the school was violating her rights to free speech. He also sought guidance from religious rights law firm Liberty Institute. Attorney Jeremy Dys contacted the school demanding an apology and that the teacher allow Mackenzie Fraiser to resubmit her project in its original form, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
The school’s assistant principal, Jenyan Martinez, has responded to part of the family’s objections with the following statement.
“When Mackenzie created the project with the expectation she would present the Biblical saying to the class, the matter became one of having a captive audience that would be subject to her religious beliefs. Had the assignment been designed to simply hand in for a grade, this would not have been an issue. Therefore, considering the circumstances of the assignment, Miss Jardine appropriately followed school law expectations by asking Mackenzie to choose an alternate quote for the presentation.”
Dys called the reasoning “illegal” and “unconstitutional” and has given the school 10 days to respond before potentially pursuing legal action.
While there is a clear distinction to keep church and state separate, traditionally laws have fallen on the side of not disallowing a student to express their views.
But what do you think, readers? Does this being a presentation change anything? Should Mackenzie Fraiser be allowed to put the Bible verse back in, or would she be violating the rights of others in doing so? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Donavon Lockett/Review-Journal, linked above]