‘We Do Not Allow Sectarian Materials’: Charter School Removes Books Over Christian Content

Library pdTEMECULA, Calif. — A Christian legal organization in California is denouncing officials at a charter school in the state for removing books from its library simply because they were deemed to be Christian.

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), based in Sacramento, reports that Springs Charter Schools, also known as River Springs Charter Schools, recently targeted books because of their content or religious affiliation.

The school, which is stated to be “created and operated by parents” according to its “Vision and Mission” page on its website, also outlines, “We value parent choice and involvement, using the community as the classroom, fostering a child’s innate creativity, collaborating to achieve goals, building relationships, and personalizing learning.”

PJI says that they were contacted by a concerned parent whose children attend the school, who noted that books such as The Hiding Place, written by Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom, were being removed from the shelves. The unidentified parent stated that they were advised by library personnel that they had been instructed to pull any Christian-themed publications, as well as any books written by Christian authors or distributed by Christian publishers.

The legal organization then sent a cease and desist letter last month, asserting that the removal of the books violated the First Amendment as it constituted a content-based restriction. But Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Hermsmeyer responded by outlining, “We . . . do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves.”

“It is alarming that a school library would attempt to purge books from religious authors. Indeed, some of the greatest literature of Western Civilization comes from people of faith,” PJI President Brad Dacus stated in a press release about the matter. “Are they going to ban the sermons or speeches of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? What about the Declaration of Independence, which invokes the laws of nature and nature’s God?”

“We are calling on Springs Charter Schools to immediately reverse their ill-conceived and illegal book-banning policy,” he said.

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The organization has now filed a public records request over the matter and says that it is “prepared to take further legal action” if the school continues to target books because of their Christian content or affiliation.

As previously reported, Christian legal groups became involved last year when a teacher at Margarita Middle School, also in Temecula, rejected the Bible as being as acceptable fulfillment of an assignment to read a nonfiction book.

“The teacher said, ‘That’s not a nonfiction book,’” attorney Bob Tyler of Advocates for Faith and Freedom told Christian News Network. “[The student] said, ‘Well, honestly, I believe it is a nonfiction book. The teacher then said in a sharp tone, ‘Well, I’ll get back to you.’”

Moments later, the teacher walked to the front of the class to poll the other students about the matter.

“[H]e went to the front of the classroom and in a very demeaning tone, asked the students, ‘How many of you think the Bible is nonfiction?” Tyler explained. “[He was] expecting that no one would raise their hand and this bully would find favor with all of the students.”

However, the table was quickly turned on the teacher.

“Instead, what he found is that all but two kids in the class raised their hand and agreed with our client that the Bible is not fiction,” Tyler said. “In an ironic turn of events, the bully teacher in this case was proven not to really have the ability to humiliate our client. Instead, he was the one humiliated.”

The teacher later granted the student credit for reading the Bible to fulfill the assignment.

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