7-Year-Old Banished Student Feels Wrath Of Evangelical’s Religious Freedom

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Banished
The idea of religious freedom in America began taking a decidedly tyrannical turn when Republican demigod Ronald Reagan awarded governing authority to the religious right. No longer does religious freedom, religious liberty, or free exercise of religion mean that government cannot impose a religion on Americans, or is prohibited from demanding that all Americans comply with one “special” religion’s edicts. Over the past four years, religious freedom was transformed by evangelical Republicans and the Vatican-5 on the Supreme Court to mean that evangelical employers have Constitutional authority to control women’s reproductive health, sectarian prayers convene and end government meetings,  a single-celled zygote’s constitutional freedoms supersede the mother’s, and evangelicals can threaten, harass, and abuse women seeking medical care. As horrid as the neo-American religious freedoms may be, they have primarily affected adults, but now it appears that is changing rapidly and no American is safe.

One of the hallmarks of neo-American Christianity is crying “religious persecution” each and every time an American fails to comply with evangelical edicts, or when the U.S. Constitution prevents the religious right from imposing it bastardized biblical-dogmata on the public. In February of this year, a seven-year-old 2nd grade student in Indiana was “banished” from having any contact with other students because his teacher, a playground supervisor, and a school administrator concluded that the child’s “bad ideas” persecuted (offended) another student. The ‘bad ideas‘ that persecuted ‘church-going‘ students was the 7-year-old boy replying to a question regarding “what church he attended.” Because the boy answered honestly, another child was persecuted, feigned being hurt, started crying, and resulted in the boy being ostracized, humiliated, and banished from any contact with his classmates for saying he did not believe in god or attend church.

Such an abomination to evangelicals was just too much for a playground supervisor who reported the religious persecution to the boy’s teacher identified as Ms. Meyer who demanded to know if the boy went to church, whether his family went to church, and whether his mother knew how he felt about god. Naturally, the boy asked what he had done wrong and after further humiliating the young boy for not “worshiping like her,” Ms. Meyer forced the child to sit by himself at lunch for three days and banished him from talking to other students because his “bad ideas” offended them. The boy’s teacher told him she was calling his mother to report his “bad ideas.” The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the child for being punished and ostracized by school employees for exercising his religious freedom of not going to church or believing in god, and exercising his right of free speech.

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The lawsuit stated that the boy’s teacher was not the end of the evangelical punishment. The suit says, “The matter was then sent to another adult employed at Forest Park Elementary School. Upon hearing the story, the adult told the boy’s classmate that she should be ‘happy she has faith’ and ‘not listen to the boy’s bad ideas’.” Realizing that they were out of line in ostracizing and banishing the child, the boy’s cowardly teacher never called his mother who only discovered the true meaning of “evangelical religious freedom” when her son came home upset “that he was hated by all his teachers and students at the school.”

The child’s mother called the assistant principal of the school demanding that her child not be punished for expressing his religious views. The teacher was also included in the call, during which time she proudly confirmed her involvement in punishing the boy for doing something so horrible as expressing his personal opinion, not going to church, and not believing in god; another form of religious persecution in evangelical America.

According to the lawsuit, not only did being banished from contact with other students, or being ostracized by evangelical adults in clear view of other students distress the boy, “the hurt did not end there.” After being shunned by his classmates on orders from his teacher, the young boy “with the bad ideas” now feels “anxious and fearful” about ever returning to school according to the lawsuit which is why the family is suing the school district with assistance from the ACLU whose interest is the school violating the child’s constitutional rights.

It was only after the lawsuit was filed that the school district felt compelled to release a statement glossing over its constitutional violations. It stated, “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.” The school also acquiesced and reluctantly told the child that, “apparently he could believe what he wanted.” However, they did not say he had the same rights as evangelicals to say what he believed; even in answer to a question from the persecuted evangelical classmate.

What was omitted from the school district’s statement was any kind of apology for punishing a seven-year-old second grader by banishing him from contact with other students, or even acknowledging that there is nothing untoward about not believing in god or not attending “the church of his/her choice.” It is revealing that the school district did not make its condescending statement until after the lawsuit was filed, or that there was no disciplinary action targeting the playground supervisor, teacher, or school administrator for belittling, traumatizing, or violating the second-grade boy’s constitutional rights. in fact, what the teacher, playground supervisor, and ‘other’ school employee are guilty of is religious persecution evangelical style; what they know as “free exercise of religion.”

Evangelicals, including most religious Republicans, have been on a crusade to take their bastardized Christianity into the public domain and they specifically train their young to “ram their religion down the throats” of their classmates; and teachers they suspect of non-compliance. Just last year in California’s heavily evangelical conservative Central Valley, a middle school teacher was taken to task by religious parents and school administrators for ‘persecuting‘ two students by refusing to play “worship music” during a group drawing activity. The teacher was cornered by angry parents with administrators in tow demanding to know why he “punished the Christian students, where he attended church and why he picked on Christians” by not playing Jesus worship music. Subsequently, the evangelicals won the day by pressuring the school district to ban any music that is not sanctioned by local evangelicals. For the record, the music the teacher played that “persecuted Christians” was from a collection of J.S. Bach’s liturgical works.

This incident in Indiana is not unique, and if not for the second-grader’s parents and the ACLU filing a lawsuit, like most cases of evangelicals persecuting non-compliance, no-one would be aware of an increasing incidence of evangelicals who are now targeting and persecuting small children. Evangelicals are prone to point disapproving fingers at Muslim extremists in ISIS, and although they are not yet beheading anyone for failing to toe the line and worship according to American neo-Christianity, it is a bad sign and a portent of a dangerous future when a public school banishes a second-grader for not going to church and not believing in god; what evangelicals call bad ideas that hurt their feelings.

Image: FreeThoughtProject

61 Replies to “7-Year-Old Banished Student Feels Wrath Of Evangelical’s Religious Freedom”

  1. i read about a father on vacation in china, who was muslim, allowed his daughter to drown, to prevent a strange man [the lifeguards, who had to fight the father off] from touching her. true story. the rw religious nuts in any of these cults, are the same. just like the prez just said, the rw in the usa, are the same as the rw ‘death to america’ types in iran. living in a area of ‘persian’ ex pats, i can tell you, all the kids in iran want are iphones, american music, bmw’s, and hair gel…[not kidding]

  2. …”Religious Freedom” to Teahadists has nothing to do with either religion or freedom…it’s “Sharia Law” with a pseudoChristian wrapping, as opposed to the pseudoMuslim wrapping of the original…

  3. Ironically, they ensured that the child would not even be receptive to Christianity later in life. At 7, that child already knows that Christians hate him and will punish him for being honest about his beliefs. He knows that the mildest response is too much for a Christian’s delicate feelings. There are Christians who don’t feel that way, but he didn’t meet them, and in any case, these people would probably punish a child whose parents’ flavor of Christianity (say, UCC or Unitarian) was too liberal for them, too. Why would he ever want to put on a suit and spend a Sunday with these awful people? Why would he want to be more like *them*? I remember some Middle Eastern hippie saying to be kind to children and model Christianity with kindness rather than punishment, but they’d never listen to him.

  4. In effect, I was this kid, sixty-odd years ago. It was not quite so blatant, but I was marked as “fair game” for the school bullies. So will this kid be… forever… if he is not removed from that milieu right now, and no matter what legal remedies might be obtained, that family is going to have to move out of the area.

  5. Whether is the zealotry of some evangelicals or the silent apathy of faith based, paid off Southern Baptists and Protestant clergy with their franchise churches who used to be the moral, social conscious of the world, religion has become more destructive and divisive than ever.

    North Carolina’s Reverend William Barber and only a handful of other clergy are the only ones who come close to picking up the mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  6. How do you even know the teacher or attendant were evangelicals? They could have been Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc. Belief is God is very basic to many religions. I feel sorry for the child. It’s not really his fault. I blame the parents. Not encouraging a basic belief in God is a form of child abuse, even if you don’t follow a specific religion or go to church. But there could be other explanations. Maybe they were Buddhists or something. The article didn’t say.

  7. There needs to be a true Religious Freedom Anti-Discrimination Organization to file lawsuits whenever these evangelical christians try to buffalo the rest of us and take over public schools.

    Recent scholarship has shown that early Christianity grew not because of persecutions and martyrdoms but because early Christians were kind to everyone. But real knowledge means nothing to these evangelicals who prefer to honor the father of lies.

  8. “Recent scholarship has shown that early Christianity grew not because of persecutions and martyrdoms but because early Christians were kind to everyone.”

    What early Christians? If your talking about America, the native American might take issue with that statement.

  9. Our Founders and Framers were correct when they signed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, respectively to protect us from these very actions today. If they prefer theocracy to democracy, then they should move to and be part of a theocratic country!

  10. Up yours. No one has to have to have a “basic belief in god” in order to be a good person. Phoney judgemental xtians make me sick.

  11. I hope you have a day job because you suck at trolling. Not only was your response nonsensical, it failed to redirect the discussion. You are way out of your league here, kid.

  12. I must agree with you. In my youth (6th grade or so) I attended a Pentecostal school, it was there that I developed what I call ‘an allergy to Christianity’. Over the years I’ve become extremely sensitive to religious undertones, and generally hate them. One event I remember very clearly was not being allowed to do a book report because the title contained the word ‘messiah’ and did not refer to Jesus. Since then, I have refused to read any fiction with christian undertones to the story. I have a special hatred for CS Lewis, since those have been promoted as ‘christian fantasy’ and are very thinly veiled christian allegory.

  13. Sorry that you experienced such treatment, kind of understand. For this child I hope, the parents sue and win, move to another location. That poor child will need a shell of very strong protection around him, if he is forced to live in that city, go to that school. Those teachers should have their jobs taken away and never let them close to another child, ever!!

  14. When I was growing up and going to grade and high school (1950’s through very early 1960’s) I doubt that this kind of thing would have occurred. I think that too many people today, fed with Fox News and nurtured by neo-brand evangelical churches, have not the least idea of what the Constitution is all about. Growing up in the shadow of WWII we children and our parents were more aware than ever before or after of what a world bereft of freedom of religion was like. All of those who returned from fighting through the Pacific or in Europe had a better sense of what our Constitution was about than the country’s 21st century ill-educated population.

  15. The Christian Right has been establishing “Good News” Clubs in many of our public schools. Their goal is to teach students to proselytize to their peers. Their goal is to establish these after school clubs in every school in our nation. Katherine Stewart wrote a great book on their efforts called “The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.” If a school allows any afterschool clubs to meet on school grounds, they must allow religious clubs to meet as well. There is a Good News Club in every elementary school in my district.

    I am glad to see coverage of education issues. I would like to also see coverage of school privatization issues as well.

  16. I’m pretty sure it would have occurred in the 50s and 60s, and the kid might have gotten bullied, which didn’t occur here. Like it or not, our country endorses belief in God. God is mentioned on our money, our pledge, God Bless America, the oath of office, etc. Back in the ’50s I think they still allowed school prayer and teachers could do pretty much whatever they thought was best without being sued by ACLU. Such a suit would have been laughed out of court in the 1950s.

  17. Fundies have a strange idea of religious freedom. Sadly, they exclude anyone who does not believe exactly as they do. This child got a taste of their idea of religious freedom – in their minds it only applies to them. You also got a taste of their idea of religious freedom. Again, religious freedom is for them alone.

    I too have met a few fundies & even have a few family members who have found “JESUS” so, the rest of us according to them need to be saved. &, if they can’t save us, we are to be ignored. That’s according to their Church Leaders in order that we heretics don’t corrupt them.

    I too was asked by a fellow employee what religion & church I attend. Little inappropriate I replied but I belong to the UCC. He told me that the UCC was not really Christian & that I needed to get my head right with JESUS. After that he seldom spoke to me unless he had to.

  18. One thing I’ve noticed about Religious Folks- they’re like Druggies.

    1) They live their lives for it.
    2) It makes them stupid.
    3) They cannot conceive life without it.
    4) They make dubious claims about how much more improved their life with is it.
    5) They’re offended if you’re not interested in trying out their version of happiness.

  19. In 1st grade 1964, when we said the pledge of allegiance the very first day in class I substituted “dog” for God and my teacher never freaked out and no one had a wailing fit or raised hell. I hope this teacher AND the school board are dismissed and fined heavily. We MUST give the Christian Reich Wing the WAR that they have been crying about! We MUST destroy religion in this nation!

  20. John, I don’t know where you got your info on the kindness of Christianity – but History tells a different story.

    Once Christians took over an area they were ruthless in their behavior to anyone they identified as not Christian.

    370 bc: Hypatia was murdered by a Christian mob -accused of causing conflict between two prominent figures in Alexandria: Gov. Orestes & Bishop Cyril of Alexandria.

    Beginning in the late 4th century A.D. also the ancient pagan religions were actively suppressed.

    The burning of Priscillian & 6 of his followers at the stake in 383 AD for apostasy.

    Medieval Era 782: During the Saxon Wars, Charlemagne, forced Roman Catholicism on the Saxons away from their Germanic paganism by way of warfare and law of conquest. 4,500 captive Saxons were massacred for rebelling against conversion.

    That is just 3 examples of early Christian kindness to spread the word.

  21. Also John what is interesting in these Christian acts of “kindness” is that Priscillian & his followers considered themselves to be Christian. But, their prosecutors said they were the wrong kind of Christians.

    If we do not pay attention to History we are bound to repeat the mistakes of our past.

  22. Chris, I attended a Public ES that was primarily 90% Jewish. This meant that during Jewish holidays the school was very empty with a few of us non-jewish kids attending. One year I was the lone Gentile in class. So, I was put with another teacher’s class – big class of 5 students during the Jewish Holiday.

    Strangely, not once during my elementary years did we say the Lord’s prayer – we had a moment of silence & reflection after the Pledge of Allegiance. I also remember in the second grade how we had to learn to include ‘Under God’ in the pledge as it was not there before. The year was 1954.

    So it is so much hooey about the USA being a Christian Country. We are just a country that has a lot of people who claim Christianity as their belief system. That is all & these Xtains have no right to force their ways.

  23. I hope they win. Too bad the little Drama Queen that got her feelings so torn to shreds she had to cry because some other kid professed to have a different opinion. Her parents should be part of the lawsuit too. And certainly the women that made so much out of nothing should lose their jobs. Neither one of the kids really even knew what they talking about. Just parroting words.
    It should and would have been a tempest in a teapot if not for the hypocrites trying to “outchristian” each other.

    This happens all the time. I guess the five “witches” that were murdered in India is on my mind. Which led to witch burning by christians in Salem. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear that’s next for some of the conservative nut jobs to demand. And hire Hobby Lobby’s lobbyists to take it to the Supreme Court and the Gawd awful men on the court find burning is good. Just the Supreme Court part is snark….wait no, it’s not snark either.

  24. I can remember that BS too. But we had to recite the Lord’s Prayer and the Pledge. Not a single one of us were doing anything except mumbling words that we had been forced to memorise. None of us knew or cared what they meant.
    I can remember going to Sunday School too. Another farce. Then I got old enough to understand what my very holy teacher was doing with some of the other Holies after church. Trash talking every one not in the group that Sunday.

  25. Sorry, you mentioned two of the worst abuses of the whole thing. Money and oath of office. God is in neither of those things.
    I believe in a higher being. Looking at the miracle of life is enough for that. I have even known a very few people that tried to live it. It’s the christian part that I have trouble with. It’s just empty words to most that claims that title.
    I was bullied unmercifully and the teacher joined in by allowing it. My crime. By the sixth grade I returned to school after vacation almost at least a head taller than the rest of the class. My first lesson about how most little men resent tall women. I topped out at 6′.
    Bullied people react differently. My defense was a wicked sense of humor, quick wit..easy dealing with the witless..and a sharp tongue if I was pushed enough to forget how embarrassed my father would be by me acting out in public. He didn’t call it “acting out” I cleaned that up for christians. I would hate for someone to burst into tears. [WINK]

  26. …I concur…started school in the early ’70s, and through the ensuing years I encountered pseudoChristian overlordism…Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, and Catholic…that’s when me and a few others came up with “Nonconformist Protestant” as a title of faith: we try to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ; and we don’t bug others about faith…

  27. Religious fanaticism exist in all religions.
    I say this because in the mid fifties, growing up in Brooklyn N.Y. was beaten in front of my classmates with a car antenna, for asking my rabbi the question, during a class discussion about god, How was god created?
    That old school rabbi beat me with that antenna till I quivered and quaked from the pain and the embarrassment.

  28. God is mentioned on our money, our pledge, God Bless America, the oath of office, etc. Back in the ’50s

    What you overlooked is the sad simple fact that Originally American money didn’t have “In God We Trust” and in fact didn’t get “IGWT” until the 1950’s.

    No small irony, since so many Christians love to worship Money.

  29. when i was a child, many, MANY moons ago, i was confronted by a ‘christian’ man and told that if i didn’t pray ‘the devil’ would come steal my soul while i slept……shortly after this event we were at my Great Grandparents apartment in Chicago where, while we all were sleeping, i heard my Great Grandpa snoring…..i was terrified that it was the sound of ‘the devil’ coming to seize my soul and woke up SCREAMING loud enough to wake the whole building….. i was quickly taught the ‘now i lay me down…..’ prayer and everybody was able to get some rest…….be careful with what you force on young minds because you have NO idea of the damage you might be inflicting on innocent minds

  30. The more repressive “Christianity” becomes in the U.S. the more irrelevant it will become and ultimately be rejected altogether like any form of tyranny.

  31. Perhaps the offended child was merely jealous. The atheist boy got to stay home and spend his Sundays sleeping in, watching cartoons and playing outside. The christian kids get dressed in church clothes and are dragged to church to hear some preacher or Sunday school teacher prattle on with their nonsense. Jealous. That’s all

  32. There is irony steeped in the Religious Rights belief that putting then nation into a Theological system would be wonderful. It would end up a total mess as different factions of the belief system fought for control and those that did not belief had to fight for their lives or be ‘re-educated’. The RW is, as many have said, no different that the Islamist that want to put Sharia law in place over the world. The true believers need to join with secular society to defeat this so called religious freedom movement because it is ‘Religious Domination” of society they are attempting to bring about and that has never worked out well for anyone.

  33. If they were truly interested in history- they’d know that anytime you open the door to religion, another faction will elbow it’s way in.

    You start off with something nice, and before you know you’ve got Pogroms and an Inquisition.

  34. I was in third grade when this happened. My Aunt had made me a plaid pleated skirt I( which I LOVED)on the play ground it was torn off me. The TEACHER DID NOT say a word to the child that did the dirty deed, she pinned my skirt back together and made me stay in class. was the laughing stock of the class. Latter in jr High a teacher was telling us all now she was going to join the DAR, but was rejected. Knew right then, one day I would join,to get back at a Teacher, Did too.. Will never forget that Teacher. red hair skinny name Worsell. Still get a feeling of come- up-ance every time I see the DAR certificate on my wall. So some Teachers do leave a lasting mark good or bad.

  35. “Not encouraging a basic belief in God is a form of child abuse, even if you don’t follow a specific religion or go to church.”

    You guys just can’t seem to get it right…no matter how much damage you do.

  36. “..early Christianity grew not because of persecutions and martyrdoms but because early Christians were kind to everyone. ”

    Are you really serious? Have you ever read a real history book?
    Even our ‘christian’ settlers at the thanksgiving feast with the indians killed most of them and enslaved the rest and raped their women over 10 years old afterwords. There are letters from our ‘christian’ leaders then asking for more 12 and 13 yr old indian girls to be used for sex….however 12 and 13 was considered marrying age then.
    Before that…millions had been killed and tortured in the name of christianity.

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