Indiana Elementary School Teacher Tells First-Graders Not to Talk About God, Jesus

Students eating lunch
Students at Rose Hill Elementary School enjoy their lunch in Commerce City, Colorado. |

Parents of first-grade students at a public elementary school in Indiana recently received a letter from a teacher telling them that their children cannot talk about God, Jesus Christ, or the devil inside the classroom.

The IndyStar reported on Wednesday that the unnamed teacher from McCordsville Elementary called on the parents in her letter to talk about the "appropriate time and place" that religious discussions can be held.

"With McCordsville Elementary being a public school, we have many different religions and beliefs, and I do not want to upset a child/parent because of these words being used," the letter read in part.

"If you go to church or discuss these things at home, please have a talk with your child about there being an appropriate time and place of talking about it," it added.

The teacher said she had warned the students once about getting into religious debates, but felt she needed to take further action.

The New York Post noted that the letter left some parents "aggravated," which led to Superintendent Shane Robbins having to clarify that students are indeed free to bring up their personal beliefs in class, as long as they are not disruptive.

"To simply summarize, [district] employees can neither advance nor inhibit religious views," Robbins explained.

"Trying to limit a student's view on religion is a violation of a student's First Amendment rights. However, if the discussion becomes an academic disruption, then as a district, we can intervene to maintain the integrity of the educational process while at the same time being sure to not violate a student's constitutional rights."

Robins noted that the teacher felt the students were disrupting class with their debate, which is what prompted her to send home the letter.

The superintendent added that the teacher is only in her second year, and is still learning about district and board policies.

"From a school vantage point, it was a learning process for a young teacher," Robbins said.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group that has taken on several religious freedom cases, recently posted a guide on students' rights when it comes to expressing their faith in school.

"Students have the right to share their beliefs, pray, evangelize, read Scripture, and invite students to participate in such activities during free time so long as they do not (1) substantially interfere with the operation of the school or (2) infringe on the rights of other students," ADF argued.

"The right to expression also extends to the clothes students wear. Students may thus wear religious clothing to the extent that other like articles of dress are permitted. A school may not prohibit student expression solely because others might find it 'offensive.'"

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