In Many States, Opponents Are Ramping Up the Legal Assault on Children

PlaygroundOur children are under legal attack.  Across the country, a slew of efforts are underway to punish youngsters for the faith of their parents … to intimidate children and their parents out of any public expression of their faith … and to circumvent even the most innocuous program that might somehow benefit Christian children in school.

Earlier this month, in Baton Rouge, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Louisiana Supreme Court on behalf of several non-profit advocacy groups and faith-based schools throughout the state, defending a program that provides scholarships for low-income families. Because those scholarships help parents move their children out of failing public schools and into private, Christian schools better suited to their needs, the program is fiercely opposed by a teachers’ union and several public school boards.

“Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children, and that’s exactly what this program allows to happen,” says Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Significant evidence shows that programs like Louisiana’s improve academic outcomes both for students who participate in the programs and those who remain in public schools. The ultimate winners are Louisiana families who want to provide the best education for their children, whether it is public or private.”

In Jefferson City, Missouri, our attorneys recently filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the exclusion of a Christian pre-school and daycare center from a state program that provides recycled tires for children’s playgrounds. (The tires are used to create a smoother, safer playing surface.) Although the state said Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center was more than qualified for the program, it denied its application solely because it is run by a church.

“The safety of children on Christian pre-school playgrounds is no less important than the safety of children on other playgrounds,” says Senior Counsel Joel Oster. “Providing grants for recycled tires to create a safe environment for children is not a government promotion of any religious doctrine. In fact, both the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution prohibit this type of hostility to religion.”

Meanwhile, in New York, our attorneys have asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to weigh in on a three-judge panel’s ruling against a New York eighth-grade student who wanted to include a religious blessing at the end of her graduation speech. The Taconic Hills Central School District prohibited the blessing, which asked that “God would bless and keep” her classmates as they moved on to high school, saying those words “sounded ‘too religious.’”

“The personal well-wishes of a student are no different just because they mention God,” says Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Public school officials have no legitimate basis to shut down personal speech just because it has a religious reference.”

“Silencing religious voices in public schools tells students that faith is something to be ashamed of,” says Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The First Amendment does not allow public schools to exclude students of faith from fully participating in important events, like graduation, by requiring them to put a lid on their expressions of faith.”

Coast to coast, our children are paying a price for their faith, and for living out the truth we have taught them. What may seem a “small issue” can set national precedent; that’s why we cannot be AWOL on these matters. Please join me in praying for our Alliance Defending Freedom staff and Allied Attorneys, as they work to strengthen the constitutional protections of our religious freedom – and for our children and grandchildren, as they face an increasingly hostile culture.

Author: Alan Sears