Friday, September 03, 2010

Principal Clamps Down on Christian Teachers

Learning of the formation of a Christian club, the Virginia middle school principal sent the faculty an E-mail warning not to support or participate in anything religious with students.

-- From "Controversial E-Mail Circulates in Fishersville School" by Philip Townsend, WHSV TV3 Virginia (Gray Television Group, Inc) 9/1/10

A Fellowship of Christian Athletes group is close to being formed at Wilson Middle School in Fishersville.

Principal Don Curtis says he wanted to remind staff about what he thought the legal implications would be of having such a group in school.

Below [are excerpts] of the text Curtis wrote that was sent to WHSV News 3 by parents:

"There are students attempting to organize a 'Fellowship of Christian Athletes' organization here at school. As I trust common sense and your elementary knowledge of the law should remind you, the Constitution includes an amendment that expects 'The government will not establish any religion.' This has been legally stated and supported through case law, interpreted to mean for schools that the school or its employees will not perpetuate, support or establish any religion at school.

"Be as religious as you want when you're not in your official role as a teacher. Your official role as a teacher starts anytime you're involved with students."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Va. School Principal Rebuked Over 'Candid' Response to New Christian Club" by Lawrence D. Jones, Christian Post Reporter 9/2/10

After the principal's e-mail got out, The Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal group, sent Curtis a letter warning him against creating a hostile workplace environment toward religion and discriminating against religious student groups such as the FCA.

The legal group said it had been asked by “several members of the community” to intervene following the e-mail’s circulation.

In the Sept. 2 letter, John W. Whitehead, president of the institute, informed the principal of his misrepresentation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

“While the First Amendment does prohibit the government from establishing religion, it likewise prohibits the government from exhibiting hostility toward religion, interfering with the free exercise thereof, and discriminating against expressive activities based on the religious viewpoint of the expression,” Whitehead explained.

“Actions by school officials that demonstrate hostility toward religious organizations undermine the very neutrality that the Establishment Clause was intended to foster,” he added, referencing the case of Rosenberger v. Rector & Visitors of the Univ. of Va.

As Whitehead pointed out, teachers and other school employees are allowed to be involved with religious student groups if that involvement is not for purposes of administration or oversight.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.