Liberty Counsel, a non-profit litigation and policy group, plans to send a religious freedom handbook to every public school in the U. S. This handbook deals with the Constitutional right to religious freedom and the counsel sent the book to elementary and high school administrators on August 10.
“We thought we’d take a proactive, educational approach,” explained Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, an international organization that promotes life, family and religious freedom through education and pro-bono legal assistance.
The name of the handbook is “Patriot’s Handbook of Religious Freedom in Public Schools” and the Liberty Counsel plans to send 99,750 copies out to various U. S. public schools. The counsel stated that the booklet clarifies students' right to pray, form "Bible clubs", and in express their religious views, including religious holidays, in public schools. It also clarifies the rights of teachers, parents, and guardians.
In their press release, Liberty Counsel accuses secularists of attempting to remove religion from schools and indoctrinate students into “radical” secularism as they remove religious expression from schools. They also accuse Secular activists of removing religion from public schools, as they indoctrinate students into alternative lifestyles, as they intimidate and bully with misrepresentations of the Constitution.
Liberty Counsel stated that this handbook is “an invaluable resource” and “go to guide” whenever a school faces an issue involving free exercise of religion. The counsel stated in its press release that public schools are “not a faith-free zone” and they will litigate to defend First Amendment rights.
“The public school is not a faith-free zone,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Students need not leave their spiritual beliefs on the schoolhouse steps. Liberty Counsel is here to educate and, if need be, litigate to defend their First Amendment rights.”
According to Matt Staver, the counsel allegedly received numerous complaints that schools do not allow students to pray at graduation ceremonies, pass our religious cards, or hold “Bible club meetings” after school. He also stated that teachers believe they cannot talk about religion in schools.
“We encounter a lot of bizarre things during Christmas,” he added, explaining that some students have been prohibited from saying “Merry Christmas” to each other or from wearing red and green clothing.
They have also been told that they must change the words to songs that mention God, he said.
Staver also told EWTN News that he believes public school teachers lack information on religious freedoms.
This is detrimental to students’ education, he said, because many subjects – such as art, music and history – are severely limited “without talking about the role of religion” in them.
This alleged lack of information is why the Liberty Counsel created the handbook on religious freedom, which explains what forms of religious speech and expressions are protected by the Constitution. Accordingly, the counsel’s handbook explains that “students, parents, and teachers maintain the right to pray and engage in religious expression when they are in a public school.”
Staver stated that Christians can participate in Bible clubs and wear religious jewelry in public schools and that these rights are not debatable. He continues to explain that a teacher may talk about religion if it is consistent with the subject matter s/he is teaching in class and parents have the right to know what students are learning in sex education classes.