Thursday, August 14, 2014

TRUTH SQUAD: Our Lawyers Give Students and Educators Facts on Religious Rights


Liberty Institute attorneys are the go-to experts on religious liberty in the school . . .



Liberty Institute is dedicated to debunking the myths about religious liberty in the school.  So our attorneys are telling students and educators the often hidden truth that students have broad religious liberties in public schools.  And they have been raising awareness about the threats that liberty faces—including ignorance and neglect of religious rights granted by our Constitution! 

EDUCATING STUDENTS ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS IN THE SCHOOL

For example, Justin Butterfield, Senior Counsel and Director of Research at Liberty Institute, spoke to Daughters of our Living Lord and Savior (DOLLS) and will be speaking to them again this weekend.  DOLLS is an organization that seeks to impact middle and high school students for Christ, with chapters of teen girls meeting weekly on public school campuses.

Butterfield spoke to the group about religious liberty—making sure they didn’t fall for common myths such as:

  • Myth:  Students can’t pray on public school property during school hours.  Fact:  Under most all circumstances, of course they can!
  • Myth:  Students can’t share their faith in public school. 
    Fact:  Under most circumstances, they can—including in class assignments!
Tearing down such myths with facts isn’t opinion—it’s rooted in law.  Broad religious rights for students are established by federal and state laws, U.S. Department of Education rules, and court decisions which include landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

But having the law on the students’ side doesn’t do them any good if someone doesn’t break through the often-deliberate fog of mythology and empower students to seize their rights.  Liberty Institute is doing just that.

EMPOWERING EDUCATORS TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

One important step is to let educators know that students have these rights. 

For that reason, Michael Berry, Senior Counsel and Director of Military Affairs at Liberty Institute, spoke in Brownsville, Texas to educators, school officials, and administrators at the Laborers in the Fields of Education (LIFE) Back to School Prayer Breakfast.  LIFE is a group that seeks to reach Christian educators on how to make a difference for Christ in the schools where they serve.

Berry shared about "All the Things a Christian Educator Can Do."  He informed his audience of the religious freedom that students have in the school and shared how educators can practice their faith in school.

Berry said, “My goal was to eliminate the misinformation, confusion, and fear that teachers sometimes have when it comes to expressing their faith openly in school.  I was really impressed with how engaged the audience was.  They were interested in this topic, and they asked thoughtful and challenging questions, which shows the depth of knowledge and sophistication they have when it comes to being a Christian educator in our very secular public schools.”

INFORMING EDUCATORS OF THREATS TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Matthew Kacsmaryk, Deputy General Counsel and Managing Director of Direct Litigation at Liberty Institute, recently spoke to faculty and staff at Coram Deo, a private religious school.  He gave them a general introduction to what Liberty Institute does and how religious liberty is being threatened, focusing on religious freedom issues in the school and in the public arena.

Kacsmaryk shared with the Coram Deo staff the story of Giovanni Rubeo, a fifth-grader who was banned by his teacher from reading the Bible during free reading time.  Giovanni’s father contacted Liberty Institute.  After Liberty Institute sent two demand letters and threatened legal action, the school district affirmed Giovanni’s right to read the Bible at school.

While private religious schools are not subject to the same regulations as public schools, by knowing about religious liberty issues, private educators can spread the word to fellow teachers and educators.

SPREADING FAITH WITHOUT FEAR IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

In addition, Liberty Institute attorneys spread the message in radio interviews.  And Liberty Institute has pro-actively reached students, parents and educators through Internet strategies designed to inform and empower students with easy-to-read, well-documented facts about their broad religious rights.

Our goal is to reach students and empower them to reach fellow students—raising a generation of students of faith in public schools who practice their faith without fear.

Knowledge, courage, and boldness are the key.  As demonstrated at the end of the last school year, when students stand up for their rights, they usually win.  Liberty Institute helped secure the rights of several students without even going to court—simply by informing educators they had broken the law by suppressing students who prayed or read the Bible in school.

In a letter addressed to students in Liberty Institute’s “Know Your Religious Rights” kit, Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of Liberty Institute, said that a student’s willingness to stand up for religious liberty could secure religious rights not just for that one student, but for thousands or millions of public school students nationwide.  He said, “For such a time as this, we need courageous young men and women to stand with us at Liberty Institute in restoring and defending religious liberty in our public schools.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America and has a win rate of over 90% in defending and protecting religious freedom.  But we need your help.

First, please pray.  Your prayer support is vitally important as we work to protect religious freedom in the school.

Second, please stand!  Liberty Institute cannot defend religious liberty in the school without students who are willing to stand for it.  If your religious liberties are being violated, please contact Liberty Institute today.

Finally, please consider making a donation to help fund our efforts to preserve religious freedom in America.

To learn more about religious freedom in the school, download your free “Know Your Religious Rights” kit, and also read more from our Student Bill of Rights and Teacher Bill of Rights.



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, in the military 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.