Second grade teacher Michelle Myer is being sued for interrogating a 7-year-old child about his religious beliefs and “banishing” him at lunch, simply because he did not believe in God.
According to Raw Story, the second grader at Forest Park Elementary School in Indiana admitted to his classmates on the playground that he does not go to church because he doesn’t believe in God. The child’s name has not been revealed, but abbreviated “A.B.” Word about the child’s lack of religious affiliation got back to his teacher, Michelle Myer, who then questioned him about his beliefs. When he confirmed he does not believe in God, the teacher punished the boy by isolating him from other students at lunch time.
Michelle Myer was reportedly very upset by the child’s response that he didn’t believe in God, to the point where she claimed she would contact his parents. She never did call them, but she carried out the punishment as though the student had done something wrong.
Now the teacher is being sued by the child’s legal guardian for causing him distress, seeking money for damages and lawyer fees. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which describes how the teacher banished the boy because he didn’t believe in God.
“During a discussion with classmates on the playground he responded to a question by indicating that he did not go to church because he did not believe in God. This resulted in his teacher interrogating the child as to his beliefs and requiring the child to sit by himself during lunch and not talk to his classmates during lunch for three days. This violates the First Amendment. The defendant’s actions caused great distress to A.B. and resulted in the child being ostracized by his peers past the three-day ‘banishment.’ No meaningful attempt has been made to remedy these injuries and the child seeks his damages.”
The school released a statement on the incident, claiming it was wrong of the second grade teacher to penalize a student because he doesn’t believe in God.
“It is clear that it is not the province of a public school to advance or inhibit religious beliefs or practices. Under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, this remains the inviolate province of the individual and the church of his/her choice. The rights of any minority, no matter how small, must be protected.”
According to WTHR, the lawsuit is based on the claim that Forest Park Elementary School violated the child’s constitutional right, which protects the right citizens to practice religion freely or to not believe in God without any intervention from the state.
“A teacher has no business looking into the religious beliefs of their students. That’s not part of her job description,” said Leonard Goldstein, regional director for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. “And it flies in the face of our country’s attitude toward religious freedom.”
What do you think? Should the teacher be sued for punishing a student who doesn’t believe in God?
For more on religion, read about Einstein’s views on God.
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