You have probably read the recent story of Walter Tutka, a longtime substitute teacher in New Jersey who was fired for allegedly violating two school policies.
In the fall of 2012, Tutka quoted the Bible while speaking to a student who was the last to enter a doorway into the school, saying, “The first shall be last but the last shall be first.”
The student questioned his teacher several times about the origin of the quote, and eventually, Tutka used his own Bible to show the student where the quote originated. In one conversation, the student mentioned that he did not own a Bible, so Tutka asked if he would like his, and the student said “yes.”
Tutka was later called into the principal’s office where he was told that what he did was illegal and was a violation of the so-called separation of church and state.
This is untrue.
“Anyone that reads the First Amendment can see that it doesn’t say anything about separation of church and state,” explains Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute. “Walter Tutka did what any good teacher would do. He answered a student’s question and he handed the student a copy of literature, the Bible, upon request. He can hand that student a Bible as much as he can give him a copy of Moby Dick. It’s literature.”
Unfortunately, the Phillipsburg school board acted on their misinformation and ignorance and voted to terminate Tutka’s employment.
Liberty Institute quickly jumped to Tutka’s defense and we are currently assisting him in evaluating his legal options. Sadly, a lot of these cases go unnoticed and the religious hostility continues.
“The ACLU and other radical groups want to promote this environment of fear and intimidation,” said Shackelford. “They’d love the law to be the way they want it to be, but it isn’t. So, their tactic is to spread a lot of broad phraseology that’s not in the Constitution to scare, misinform and intimidate people. Their goal is to make an example out of someone like Walter Tutka, to scare other teachers and the students.”
Shackelford believes that if the country is going to turn around, we are going to need the help of the next generation – the kids coming out of these schools.
“If teachers are gagged and can’t talk about faith in any way, can’t teach concepts from the Bible, can’t make religious references…then we are going to have a lot of intellectually and emotionally crippled kids that are being robbed of a real education,” said Shackelford.
Liberty Institute is re-doubling our efforts to ensure this doesn’t happen. We have started with “The Angela Project,” our nationwide campaign to stop the widespread assault of religious freedom in our public schools. As part of the project we have developed the “Know Your Religious Rights Kit” for students, parents and teachers to educate all involved about what the law actually allows regarding the free exercise of religion.
And when government school officials disregard the law, Liberty Institute will face them in court.
“We are one of the only groups fighting to restore American’s First Amendment rights,” said Shackelford. “If teachers are censored, and students are censored, and if they learn in school that they can only talk about their faith if the government permits them to, then what will they think when they become adults?”
If you know of any student, teacher or school district facing religious hostility, have them contact Liberty Institute at 972-941-4444. We offer legal assistance free of charge to individuals, schools, churches and organizations across the country, and we have been blessed with a 99 percent-win rate.
Please join the battle and help defend America’s first and most important freedom – our religious liberty. Your generous gift will help us meet every attack head on, so we can protect the values that matter most to you and your family — for our students and for the future of our nation.
About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.