MURRIETA, Calif. — A California-based legal organization is reporting a marked increase in hostility toward Christian students in public schools.
“We have seen a dramatic increase of phone calls nationwide as it pertains to kids in public schools who are facing hostility because of their faith,” General Counsel Bob Tyler of Advocates for Faith and Freedom told Christian News Network.
But Tyler said that the upswing in incident reports do not pertain to bullying from other students, but rather mistreatment by school officials.
“[The reports all surround] hostility from teachers and school administrators who are curtailing the students’ free speech rights simply because they’re Christians and they might express a Christian worldview,” he stated.
Tyler shared some of the most recent calls he has received from Christian parents nationwide. He stated that a mother of a seventh grader in the Boston area called the organization this month to stat that one of the teachers at he child’s school, who is an atheist, was belittling the student’s faith.
“The atheist teacher said, ‘We atheists laugh at you Christians. No one will believe in God [in 50 years] because science has proven that there is no God,” Tyler explained. “How humiliating that would be.”
He shared another incident of how a teacher in California discarded a gift that a first grade student brought her because it was spiritual in nature.
“She said, ‘Jesus is not allowed in school,’ and proceeded to throw it in the trash,” Tyler outlined, noting that the professing Christian principal sided with the teacher in the matter.
Yet another student, also a first grader, was prevented from giving a religious presentation in class and was immediately interrupted when her teacher realized that the girl was referencing the Bible.
“The teacher said, ‘Stop right there. You cannot talk about the Bible in school,'” he explained. “And for her, … all of a sudden you feel like you’re in trouble because of what just happened.”
Tyler said that the increase in hostility toward Christianity in public schools is concerning, and that he worries about the influence that many teachers are having upon students.
“I’m concerned about the souls of the generations to come,” he stated. “The more that our kids are being told that there is no God, and the more hostile that these teachers are allowed to be, and the more disapproval that they have the ability to show toward Christ, the greater impact it will have on future generations and whether they believe in God.”
“And then [also because of] the indoctrination as it relates to sexual orientation and gender issues, we’re going to find that so many kids in the future are going to look at the Bible and say, ‘Well, the Bible can’t be right. The Bible must not be true,'” Tyler lamented.
But Tyler said that his organization is fighting back to ensure that students retain their rights and are not censored by secularists. He stated that some are now using what he called the “reverse Establishment Clause” in the courts to protect religious freedom.
“The government does not have the right to show hostility or disapproval toward any particular religion,” Tyler said. “When they enter the schoolhouse gates, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that [students] do not shed their First Amendment liberties. They’re protected. They have the right to expression and the freedom of speech, and they have the ability to do that so long as their conduct or expression does not substantially disrupt the educational environment.”
Tyler advised that Advocates for Faith and Freedom is currently looking for cases across the nation in its work to protect religious freedom in the public schools.
“We need to set legal precedent because there’s not much legal precedent that has been established to tell school teachers and school officials that they must not show hostility toward Christianity,” he said.