Right Opinion

Bible Belt Buckles on Students

Tony Perkins · Nov. 13, 2015

What’s the worst thing a child could stumble on in school? Drugs? Gangs? Maybe bullies? Try a Bible. According to one Tennessee school district, it seems the biggest threat a student could face is seeing a copy of Scripture up close. To “spare” kids this horrifying experience, Bledsoe County Schools is booting the Gideons from school property because a single student complained.

After years of offering free Bibles to those who wanted them, Chaplain Charlie Queen was stunned at the superintendent’s overreaction. “We simply go in, we lay it on the table. We tell them what it is and who we are, and if they want one … they freely take one,” he explained. “We do not hand it to them, they take it freely and voluntarily.” Unfortunately, one “offended” child seems to be all it takes to overrule the Constitution — which is exactly what Bledsoe officials are doing.

As one reporter pointed out, “Even the ACLU notes that it is ‘simply wrong’ to assume that the Constitution had declared public schools to be ‘religion-free zones.’” Still, Superintendent Jennifer Terry is terrified of standing up for the district’s other 1,911 students and issued this statement: “Bledsoe County Schools do not allow the distribution of religious materials from any religious groups. The distribution of religious materials in a public school is in violation of constitutional provisions and well-established federal and state laws and precedence.”

That’s interesting, since the Supreme Court has said the exact opposite. From Christian clubs to other faith-based activities, the justices have been clear: religious expression in schools isn’t illegal. What’s more, the school can’t ban religious distributions if it allows other non-religious distributions! That’s content-based discrimination.

And locals aren’t happy about it. Pastor Bill Wolfe of Lee Station Baptist Church says his congregation is up in arms. If the community doesn’t rise up and fight this kind of censorship, he’s afraid his district will be just the first of many to fall. “They’re not going to stop at Bledsoe county, it will come to Sequatchie county, Cumberland county, Rhea county, and all of the surrounding counties here. They’re going to try and stop it everywhere.” Already, area families are planning to protest the decision at the next school board meeting.

Of course, the irony of this controversy is that while this is happening in Pikeville, parents in the Nashville area are furious that their kids are learning the Five Pillars of Islam in middle school. Apparently, Tennessee schools are fine with officially acknowledging Islam’s place in history but will not even allow the Bible on school grounds!

While it may not be intentional the superintendent’s part, the effect is the same when officials cower in the face of anti-freedom secularists. The young student who complained has every right not to take a free Bible, but he or she doesn’t have the right to deprive others of one.

Man’s Beast Friend?

The folks at The Daily Beast have a funny way of celebrating Veterans Day. While the rest of the country was expressing its appreciation to our brave men and women, Jay Michaelson took the opportunity to attack one: Master Sergeant Phillip Monk. A longtime friend of FRC, Sgt. Monk’s story is a familiar one. When his lesbian commander pressed Monk on his biblical beliefs about marriage, he refused to back down. As former FRCer Ken Klukowski explains in Breitbart, “She … ordered him to verbally affirm that he agreed with her that people who disagree with gay marriage are discriminating against homosexuals. He refused to make that declaration since it would violate his sincerely-held Christian beliefs. She responded by relieving him of duty.”

With the help of Liberty Institute, Monk fought to get his job back — and was not only exonerated, but honored with a Meritorious Service Medal. Soon after, FRC’s own Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin retired Phillip in an inspiring ceremony. Now, months later, The Daily Beast is trying to discredit the growing number of men and women persecuted under the guise of sexual “equality.” Leaning on the far-Left Media Matters for his (mis)information, Michaelson accuses Monk of making a “bogus claim” and alleging that his military term was up anyway.

His record states otherwise. Unfortunately, anti-freedom activists like Michaelson never let a little thing like the truth get in the way of their vilifications. Instead, they resort to personal attacks or outright lying to make the case that the facts don’t. Since his retirement, Monk is fighting a different war — for religious liberty. (Which is probably why The Daily Beast is singling him out.) “Right now in America … if a commander takes a podium and say, ‘I’m gay,’ they’ll be applauded, but if a commander says something that remotely sounds like ‘I’m a Christian,’ he’ll be investigated,” Monk said. As Ken pointed out, our veterans — and our country — deserve better.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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