Christian references in art project earn student a 'zero'
Jeff Johnson - OneNewsNow
4/2/2008 12:00:00 PM

image of student's artworkSchool officials in Tomah, Wisconsin, are facing a lawsuit after a high school teacher there failed a student's art project because it included a cross and a reference to John 3:16. The school district argues that the student voluntarily waived his First Amendment religious freedoms when he entered the classroom.


A Wisconsin high school senior is suing his school after receiving a zero on an art project that contained Christian references and being told that he had forfeited his First Amendment rights in the classroom. The Tomah High School student included a cross and the words "John 3:16, a sign of love" in his art project. The teacher told him to remove the scripture reference or cover it up with a border. David Cortman, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), says the student refused.
"The teacher gave him a zero for the assignment -- and for the reason, she showed him a policy that every student has to sign," says Cortman. "Now, get this: It says, 'No blood. No violence. No sex' and 'No religion.' And [she] cited that policy as 'waiving' his First Amendment rights" when he came into the class."
The student, Cortman says, was not intimidated by the teacher's apparent anti-religious bias. "This is a student with a, top of his class, 3.5, 3.6 GPA -- [he] tore it in half and said, 'This is an illegal policy,' and handed it back to them."

As the ADF attorney explains, the content discrimination by the teacher is an obvious violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment -- and, in fact, favors one religion over another.
"What makes the case more egregious -- and it shows where our public schools are heading -- the same teacher allowed pictures of these demonic, evil-looking beings as part of these assignments, but yet wouldn't allow a small cross and a scripture verse," says Cortman. "So if you look at the dichotomy between what the school is saying is permissible and what they are saying they should be able to censor, I think it's definitely a sad day for public schools."
The pro-family attorney says the legal wrong is compounded by the immoral message the school is sending. "What's most offensive about this case and most egregious in the actions by the school district is the fact that their policy lumps blood, violence, sex, and religion as if those four things are equal," he states.
The student is requesting an injunction declaring the "no religion" policy unconstitutional.

Original article: One News Now
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