PALMDALE, Calif. (BP) — A public school superintendent told Baptist Press he has been unable to discover why a deputy sheriff visited the home of a first-grade boy to warn him not to share Scripture with classmates at a school in the superintendent’s district.
Religious freedom advocates Liberty Counsel contacted Palmdale School District Supt. Raul Maldonado after a Los Angeles deputy sheriff visited the home of Christina and Jaime Zavala, whose child was cautioned this spring about sharing with classmates written Scripture notes his mother had put in his lunchbox.
While Maldonado doesn’t deny that a sheriff’s deputy visited the Zavala home in relation to the Scripture notes, he told BP the school has been unable to determine why such a visit occurred.
“We really should not discuss or identify individual students, parents or teachers without their consent, so I cannot talk about the family and teachers you have mentioned,” Maldonado said in response to BP’s June 6 information request. “However I can tell you, we have not been able to identify anyone at any level at the school in question who called the sheriff and asked for a visit to a child’s home about this matter.”
Several pastors were slated to hold a press conference at noon Pacific Time today (June 7) on the steps of Desert Rose Elementary School in Palmdale to address the issue.
Paul Chappell, pastor of Lancaster [Independent] Baptist Church in Palmdale, released an advance copy of his prepared comments to BP.
“If in fact this 7-year-old child was reprimanded for sharing his Bible verses and notes, we believe the staff involved need training regarding the educational codes and a reminder that we do not bully or demean students,” Chappell said. “As faith and community leaders, we believe it is vital for people of all faiths that the district provide assurances that the children’s constitutional rights are upheld.”
Liberty Counsel gave the school an ultimatum in a May 24 letter and follow-up communication, according to Liberty Counsel founder and president Mathew Staver.
“Having reviewed the … facts, District policies, and applicable law, it is clear that the actions of District staff in this instance, in prohibiting voluntary student religious expression during non-instructional time; then completely banning such student expression from school property entirely; and finally calling the police to report the same are simply unconstitutional,” reads the letter posted at Liberty Counsel’s website. “These actions must be disavowed and reversed, to avoid liability for civil rights violations.” READ MORE
Voice of the Persecuted Note: It is sad when children are silenced when sharing what we Christians know to be the most important message anyone could hear. The 6 yr old granddaughter of one of our advocates faced a similar situation in school. A rotation was set up and a student put on a schedule and asked to bring in their book of choice to be read by the teacher to the class during ‘Story Time’, everyday.
An early reader and at the granddaughter’s request, the teacher allowed her to read to the class on her scheduled day. She notably liked her role as ‘the reader’ and thought it important to choose a story that her classmates would thoroughly enjoy and benefit from. Once again, the rotation fell on her day. This day, she decided she would read a story from her favorite book, her Children’s Bible. It had been read to her nearly everyday since she was a baby and even at the young age of 6, she had already read it from start to finish. She felt it was perfect for Story Time.
When she got up to read, her teacher noticed her chosen book. She pulled her aside telling her that she was sorry but she could not allow her to read from that book. Completely surprised the little girl asked her teacher to explain why. The teacher told her it was a religious book and not allowed in school. This little girl who had previously asked God for the wisdom of Solomon said,
“It is not a religious book. It is the Word of GOD and everyone should hear it!”
Out of the mouths of babes. We believe God has already granted her request.
She was able to read, but given another book by her teacher. It’s interesting to note that she was the teacher’s favorite student, who even requested to be her teacher again in an advanced academic program the following year. The teacher was not against the little girl and most probably a Christian too, but bound by school regulations that have removed God from the classroom. Two years later, this same child expressed concern when she found some of her classmates knew nothing about or didn’t believe in God or Jesus.
Imagine what it must be like growing up in a world adamantly trying to silence Christianity and remove God.
- Pray for the 7 yr. old trying to share the love of Christ.
- Pray for our advocates granddaughter who is finishing 6th grade in Junior High.
- Pray for all our children, that they not be intimidated and to boldly share the Gospel with their peers.
- Teach your children to know the Scriptures.
- Help them to be represent Christ to the world.
- Tell them adversity will come and why so they can defend their faith in strength in Christ.
For a time such as this.