District bans 'John 3:16,' promotes demonic leer|
Court filing seeks elimination of penalties for Christian art
Posted: April 17, 2008 9:20 pm Eastern
A court in Wisconsin has been asked to suspend immediately a policy in
the Tomah Area
School District that bans Christian symbols in students' artwork, but
allows Hindu, Buddhist and satanic representations.
The motion was filed yesterday by the Alliance Defense Fund,
which has taken on the case of a student identified by the initials
The ADF launched a lawsuit on the student's behalf after a teacher
refused to give him a grade on a project because his work included "John
3:16" as well as "As sign of love."
because of the inclusion of a biblical reference and the message: "A
sign of love"
The school district, however, openly acknowledged and publicized
various pieces of art representing Buddhism, and Hinduism as well as
several demon faces that appeared satanic.
The school defended its actions:
"Respect for the beliefs of a diverse student population … requires
that the district treat all students equitable and fairly regardless of
their faith," it said in a website statement.
"To meet our responsibilities, students are required to follow the
rules of conduct for their classrooms and the instructions that their
teachers give them for class assignments. While the district respects all
students' religious freedoms, those freedoms are not a license for
students to force the school to display religious messages of their
The ADF said the teacher's grading policy banned depictions of "blood,
violence, sexual connotations, [or] religious beliefs."
A "demon" mask that
But in practice it was a discriminatory policy, the ADF said in a court
motion seeking an immediate injunction against the school.
"Allowing demonic depictions by some students while prohibiting
Christian religious expression in artwork by others is a blatant violation
of the Constitution," said David Cortman, senior ADF legal counsel.
The lawsuit was filed late last month after the student's artwork was
rejected, then he was told he had signed away his First Amendment rights
at the beginning of the semester in order to participate in the class.
The ADF's motion noted: "While penalizing A.P.'s religious express,
defendants prominently display[ed] in the school's hallway a large
painting of a six-limbed Hindu woman riding a swan figure. … Elsewhere, on
a hallway bulletin board, there hangs a drawing of a robed sorcerer."
A Buddha fountain
that also was allowed
The law firm said the district displays artwork reflecting Hindu,
Buddhist and satanic themes all over.
"It is displayed in classrooms (including the very classroom where
district officials met to reiterate to A.P. that his Christian religious
expression warranted no constitutional protection)," the law firm
The lawsuit names as defendants the school district, administrator
Robert Fasbender, assistant principal Cale Jackson, and faculty members
Julie Millin and Margi Genrich.
"The fact that the student was not only refused a grade on the project,
but given two detentions creates "a draconian atmosphere … [that] evinces
a manifest hostility toward Christianity," ADF said.
No such "waiver" of the student's First Amendment rights is applicable,
either, the firm said.
"A waiver for First Amendment rights will be found only on the basis of
clear and compelling evidence that the party understood his rights and
intentionally relinquished or abandoned them," the law firm argued.
"At the time he signed the policy, A.P. had no idea that it would be so
restriction of religious expression in the class … And the facts show that
at the time that A.P. signed the policy, he did not think that including
something like a small cross, or a simple scripture verse reference, would
be subject to censorship…"
Further, the student is a minor and was denied the opportunity "to seek
advice from counsel" before being required to sign, ADF said.
"An incredible fact in this case is that in the very same room
in which defendants Jackson, Millin, and Genrich conducted their
parent-teacher conference with A.P. and his family – and reiterated their
policies banning student religious express in class assignments –
defendants displayed student drawings of the Greek goddess Medusa; a
demonic figure with horns, scales, and protruding tongue; several demonic
masks; and a drawing of the Grim Reaper, holding a scythe," ADF said.
The injunction is needed immediately because of the passing of time and
loss of grades for the student, the law firm said.
"Here, the school permits some religious expression in its classrooms
and hallways, so long as it is not Christian religious
expression," the ADF said.
Original article: World Net Daily
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