Parents sue Nazareth Area School District over son's Valentine's Day card for classmates

This doesn’t surprise me at all considering more and more kids (and teachers) can’t even wear a cross or have a Rosary with them.

from the article…
“Some of the other cards that were allowed, one of them had a kind of open laughing skull. There was others that had Star Wars, the troopers with guns,” he said. “It’s just troubling when all of that other stuff is allowed and then here’s a message about Valentine’s and quoting a Bible verse and it’s the one that’s targeted out and censored.”

so one could say that the school openly permits and advocates visions of guns and violence yet nothing regarding God (peace and love). Yet the irony is the school allows them to “celebrate” St. Valentine’s Day. Oh wait, I meant to say “Hallmark Holiday” :rolleyes:

My boys’ school called it “Friendship Day”

I explained to the boys that it’s St. Valentine’s day, that he was a real person and that he chose to follow God in the face of Roman persecution.

Quoting from the news article:
“They prepared a Valentine’s note that said this is the history of Valentine’s and we wanted to share God’s love, message of God’s love for you, so they included the Bible verse John 3:16,” said Sharp. “The teacher sees the Bible verse, brings it up to the principal and ultimately it led to the notes being removed from our client’s cards.”

The note that was attached to the card said, “Happy Valentine’s Day! St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love. In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves you!!!”

So the parents were deliberately trying to evangelize, using the card exchange at school as on opportunity to spread their religion. Imagine the outcry if members of another religion, say Islam, were to similarly try to win over students.

Ha! First, local authorities should ban the name of the town being used in school.

Second, if I remember correctly, the cards we passed at school were all pre printed with themes.

I’m guessing this was one homemade card to the class, or maybe a bunch printed up to be passed out.

Personally, I would have made up Valentine cards with a “Holy Card” of Saint Valentine on one side with the usual “To” and “From” on the back and leave it at that.

If I needed a motto for the front, I would have printed, “Keep St. Valentine in Valentine’s Day!”

This is a troubling issue for me, because I believe very much in freedom and this kind of censorship does initially strike me as unfair. As an atheist, I’m no fan of religious material in schools, but I do recognize that Valentine’s day has a religious origin and it seems quite backward that a card acknowledging the historical figure of St. Valentine as the origin of the holiday would be censored. In fact I’ve written articles about how more religious literature and history should be included in schools (though from a historical and literary point of study, not a theological one). So I can understand Catholic objections.

But I think it’s important to delve into the issue further. The card was not merely an acknowledgement of the historical figure of St. Valentine. The card claimed that God loved the recipient and included a Bible verse that has nothing to do with St. Valentine. The purpose of including those elements is clearly for proselytization. This is where the card crosses a line. Schoolchildren are welcome to express how they feel, but children should also be welcome to go to a school without fear that they will be evangelized. The school is not the appropriate place to spread religious messages. Children are required by law to go to school, and if evangelizing religious material is allowed there, that is the same as forcing them to hear it. I’m sure that no there was no ill intent on the part of the parents or children, but imagine Christians were the minority and your child were forced to listen to Arabic incantations about Allah. In a Muslim school, fine. In a pluralistic school that has legal protections against religious proselytization, not fine.

I think religious people can proselytize all they want. Hand out religious material on street corners. Walk door-to-door. Run businesses that broadcast religious material on 10 different radio stations and 10 different cable TV stations. Spread the message as loudly as you want, because this is a free country and that is no mere platitude to me, but an important ideal to be upheld. But evangelization in a school, where non-Christian Christian children are required by law to be, makes a pluralistic, secular realm of learning into a place of religious insiders and outsiders. If Catholics want non-Catholics to respect their beliefs, they should show respect for the beliefs of others by allowing them to be free from evangelization in school.

I suppose I also feel strongly about this because we are talking about children. Mine will soon be in first grade. 1st-graders lack the ability to read critically and judge material for themselves. They are not equipped to understand the implications of Jesus’s sacrifice and make discerning judgments about whether or not they believe it. If Christian parents want to present such complicated religious material to their children as truth, (which an atheist considers to be indoctrination), that is fine–it is their right as parents. But it is not acceptable to me for Christian parents to subject other people’s children to it, and even less acceptable to use innocent first-graders as the means of doing so.

All this being said, I return to my original point that it seems unfair to censor this Valentine’s Day card. The holiday has religious origins and if the school is going to celebrate the holiday, they should not be surprised to find that that celebration has a religious component. This leads to a separate discussion about the awkward combination of religious and secular aspects of holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Despite their religious origin, those holidays have clearly taken on a life of their own that has no religious significance (“Hallmark holiday” is an appropriate term), and so they do have cultural significance even for nonreligious people. This is a tough line for schools to walk when they want to acknowledge shared community traditions and values without giving preference to any particular religious viewpoint. I suppose the answer would be to skip celebrating the holiday in a pluralistic school and just keep the kids focused on learning, though admittedly, that seems an unsatisfying answer as well. This complex issue has no easy answer.

While I agree with much of what you stated, I’m left wondering where this came from…


Like it doesn’t happen?? Seriously?

“An entire chapter is dedicated to Islam while that of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions are not focused equally. I did acknowledge that other religions are included throughout the textbook but in snippets with no dedication of a chapter for easy reference as is the case with Islam in Chapter 10.”

It did not come from anywhere in particular. I see that its tone comes across as more aggressive than I meant it. But certainly the comment is still valid. On today’s Catholic Answers homepage, the lead story is about the Catholic conference preparing to address the way the the media “persecutes” Catholics. There is, it seems, much indignation or anxiety about the degree to which Catholic beliefs are disrespected in wider American culture. Everyone wants their beliefs–or at least their right to believe as they choose–to be respected, but it must be a two-way street. This Catholic forum is rife with disrespect towards the beliefs of others, and I hope the fair-minded Catholics will stand up for the rights of non-Catholics to be respected as loudly as they would stand up for their own. This should certainly apply to first-graders who cannot speak up for themselves.

I’m reminded of the recent uproar involving a Muslim community center near the location of ground zero in NYC. I believed passionately that nobody should stand in its way, because this is America and everyone’s right to worship must be respected equally. I was glad to see some leaders say so. But I saw a distinct lack of concern for the right to fair worship among many people, who considered it less important than xenophobic indignation disguised as “respect” for 9/11. How many of those same people who opposed a Muslim community center in lower Manhattan now tout religious freedom as important when it comes to the government making laws about employer-provided health insurance? I believe their concerns have merit, but I could do without the double-standard. Defense of freedom means you must defend it as passionately for others as you do for yourself. I recognize this example is only peripherally related to the issue at hand, but I thought it was worth mentioning since you asked about the origin of my comment.

Now I am confused! :confused:

Correct me if I am wrong, but the school:

  1. Mandates that no religious material of any kind can be distributed at school.
  2. Actively encourages its students to participate in a Catholic Feast Day but hides the truth from non Catholic children and parents.
  3. Actively encouraged children to depict this celebration in the form of a card and to display it.
  4. Ignores another other religious card (Jedi Knight is on the British censor as a religion, so one picture containing a Jedi Knight is in the secular world a religious card).

The definition of distribute is to “to give things to a large number of people; to share something between a number of people”. Based on the definition, unless the school can prove it does not teach (i.e. give out or share information to pupils) on anything in relation to religion, in any shape or form, it is actively discriminating against the Catholic children in question. That means no teaching about any religion, never teaching students about Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci etc etc.

Crazy. I’m not knocking the USA as similar madness happens over here as well.

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