Under pressure from a pastor with principles and a law firm dedicated to religious liberty, a Las Vegas school is apologizing after a teacher didn’t allow a Bible verse in a class project.
In the project, titled “All About Me,” sixth grader Mackenzie Frazier wanted to use the Bible verse John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Her teacher told her she couldn’t, according to Fox News.
Her father, the Rev. Tim Frasier, thought she could.
Frasier is a pastor at Grace Point Church in Las Vegas and said Mackenzie takes pride in her faith.
The 12-year-old was discussing the project, which focuses on self-esteem, with her parents when they suggested she say her self-esteem comes from the knowledge that she was created in God’s image, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
When her teacher told her to take the verse out, her father was stunned. He emailed the school to find out why.
“Can you please explain if this is true? Perhaps, she misunderstood you? Since I am certain you understand that this clearly infringes on my daughters/your students right to freedom of speech, I want to make sure we understand your instructions,” he wrote in the email dated April 29.
Somerset Academy Assistant Principal Jenyan Martinez wrote back two days later and explained the North Las Vegas charter school’s position.
“When Mackenzie created the project with the expectation she would present the Biblical saying to the class, the matter became one of having a captive audience that would be subject to her religious beliefs,” Martinez wrote. “Had the assignment been designed to simply hand in for a grade, this would not have been an issue. Therefore, considering the circumstances of the assignment, Miss Jardine appropriately followed school law expectations by asking Mackenzie to choose an alternate quote for the presentation.”
But this week school officials changed their tune and are allowing Mackenzie to resubmit the project with the Bible verse in it after the Fraiser’s threatened legal action. The family was represented by Liberty Institute, a national law firm that specializes in religious freedom cases.
The school also issued a formal written apology to Mackenzie.
“After reviewing the facts of this particular situation, Somerset Academy recognizes that the teacher and assistant principal incorrectly implemented [Department of Education] guidelines,” the apology read. “Somerset Academy of Las Vegas and its Administrators apologize for this inadvertent error. The student will be allowed to resubmit her original presentation, inclusive of her religious beliefs.”
The decision is a victory for both religious freedom and common sense.
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