An elementary school in Palmdale, California has sent a deputy sheriff to warn a 7-year-old boy and his parents that he should stop sharing Bible verses at school.
It all started when the student’s tradition of reading Bible verses caught the attention of other students who were asking to hear the Bible verses. The boy’s mother, Christina Zavala, had always shared a tradition with her son. She would write down Bible verses and little notes of encouragement for her son and tuck them into his school lunch. When the boy told the other children what the notes were about, they asked him to read them aloud. The other students who sat at the same lunch table became interested in the notes and verses, even asking him for copies of the notes. Mrs. Zavala indulged them by adding extra copies.
Soon, the verses expanded into Bible stories and the children seemed to enjoy them and be inspired by them. One little girl was so encouraged by them, she told her teacher it was “the most beautiful story” she’d ever seen. The teacher replied that there should be a “separation between church and state,” and prohibited the notes during lunchtime.
The teacher then scolded the boy in front of his entire classroom on two occasions, then called his parents. She told Mrs. Zavala that there is a separation between church and state and that it was improper for him to share the stories with other students at school.
The Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit organization that specializes in protecting religious rights, sent a letter on behalf of the boy to the Palmdale School District to correctly clarify the clause of separation of church and state, explaining that students have the legal right to exercise freedom of speech through printed material. The letter went on to say that it was “improper to ban student religious discussion during lunchtime.” It said the district “cannot suppress and sensor this type of discussion,” nor can they prohibit the one-page notes containing Bible verses and stories placed by the boy’s mother in his lunch for his own personal enrichment.
They reiterated that the boy voluntarily shared the notes by reading them aloud, then honoring their requests for copies. The interested classmates were certainly free to either accept or refuse the notes as they saw fit.
According to Liberty Counsel, says Fox News, the school restricted the boy’s sharing of the verses and stories to being shared only outside the school’s gates and outside of school hours. The boy and his family complied. Shortly thereafter, however, the principal issued orders banning the sharing of Bible verses completely on school grounds.
The boy and his father were told to move to a public sidewalk. Again, the boy and his family complied, only to receive a visit from a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff a few hours later. Apparently the deputy sheriff was sent to warn the boy and his family to stop sharing Bible verses because someone might take offense to them. The family told Liberty Counsel that the deputy was never threatening or belligerent, nor did he serve them with any type of legal documents. It was merely a friendly warning, he had told them.