MEMPHIS — An elementary school in the heart of the Bible Belt has changed its mind after initially banning a 10-year-old girl from writing about God for a class assignment.
Erin Shead asked her teacher at Lucy Elementary School in Memphis if she could write about God when her class was given the assignment to write about their “idol” last month. As she was told to choose someone else, she went home and discussed the issue with her mother.
The two decided to move forward and write about God, but Erin chose to create a backup in the event that the teacher still refused her work.
“God will always make me do the right thing,” she wrote. “He will make me be the best that I can be. I will never ever not believe in Him. … I will never hate Him. He will always be the #1 person I look up to.”
When she attempted to hand in her homework the next day, the teacher would not accept her paper and was told to take it home because it might violate the First Amendment. However, when the girl then gave the teacher a separate creation about the late Michael Jackson, the teacher accepted the project.
When her mother Erica learned of what transpired, she met with the principal to discuss the matter.
“I told the principal this morning, ‘Would it be better if she wrote about Ellen Degeneres?’” she told reporters following the meeting. “Of course there was no comment.”
But Erica said that the principal and the teacher both advised that there had been a misunderstanding surrounding the matter.
“The children started talking, and some didn’t believe in God and some did, and they were talking about it,” she explained. “[The teacher] did admit that she didn’t know how to handle that situation.”
The Liberty Institute, a Christian legal organization headquarted in Plano, Texas soon became involved as the incident made headlines nationwide. Attorney Jeremy Dys engaged in a number of talks with legal counsel for the school district, and this week, the school agreed to accept Erin’s original composition about God.
She received an A for her work.
“I just wanted every Christian to know that we have a right to be able to express ourselves,” Erica told television station WREG. “We understand that they’ve taken prayer out of schools, but they cannot take God out of our children.”
But the Liberty Institute says that it is concerned that stories like Erin’s are becoming commonplace.
“Situations like Erin’s are happening all too frequently,” it wrote in a news release this week. “Aggressive anti-faith groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU have created a culture of fear inside our nation’s schools—to the point that a teacher fears that a piece of paper with the word, ‘God’ scribbled on it by a 10-year-old might violate the Constitution!”