Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Poster Boy

Third Circuit Court Case 07-2967 was recently declined by the United States Supreme Court.

Wesley Busch was the featured student in his classroom at Culbertson Elementary School. He prepared a poster that included photos of him, his hamster and a picture of his church, captioned with: “I love to go to the House of the Lord.”

So far, no problems, right?

Wesley was featured in class as part of “All About Me” week, focusing on the child and inviting parents to come to class and (among other things) to share a story. Wesley’s mother accepted the teacher’s invitation and planned to read from Psalm 118. She testified she "chose these verses because (1) she and Wesley frequently read from the Book of Psalms; (2) she thought the children would like Psalms because they are similar to poetry; and (3) she desired a reading that did not make reference to Jesus, which she worried might upset some people given what she perceived in the past as hostility in the school district towards her Christian beliefs. She also testified that she intended to read the verses to the students without explanation and that, if asked questions about the reading, she would respond that 'it was ancient psalms and ancient poetry and one of Wesley’s favorite things to hear.'"

I do not know whether her selection would have included: It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. (Psalms 118:8 KJV), but believe that would have been appropriate, for man proved less than confident.

The teacher asked her not to read, sending for the principal. The principal "stated to the Plaintiff that her reading aloud from the Bible to the kindergarten class would constitute proselytizing and that such conduct would thus violate the requirement of separation of church and state"

The mother sued and lost in court. Lost in the appellate court. Appealed to the Supreme Court and was declined.

What lesson was taught to the kindergartners in Wesley’s class?

The Third U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals was split. The majority opinion stated, “ … parents of public school kindergarten students may reasonably expect their children will not become captive audiences to an adult’s reading of religious texts.”

Which is true. What about hearing the Qu’ran being read in school? Isn’t that done in the name of diversity? Perhaps diversity is not taught in this school. Perhaps not diversity in religion.

The dissenting minority opinion held “The majority’s desire to protect young children from potentially influential speech in the classroom is understandable. But that goal, however admirable, does not allow the government to offer a student and his parents the opportunity to express something about themselves ..."

Was not the principal’s action “potentially influential”? Was not the entire class influenced by this denial? How eager will Wesley be in the future to express a personal opinion?

This is but one incident, one child, but it is repeated so often that we are no longer shocked by the refusal to accept the importance of religion in one’s life. There is no main stream media coverage.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. (Luke 17:2 KJV)

(Photo from Wikipedia Commons)


  1. That is just one more beauty of the homeschool movement. We can read the bible all day to our children if we want to. I don't want my kids in a place for the majority of the day that teaches there is no God.

  2. Thanks, Sandra -- I had another paragraph that addressed home schooling -- but this was already longer than my usual posts. So I removed it and set it aside for attention in a full post. For some of us, it is a necessity today.

  3. My understanding of separation of church and state is vastly different from the understanding of many who work in public schools. The whole idea was founded on the principle that the state should not mandate one religion, but that individuals may practice religion according to their own conscience. The school invited this woman and child to speak about themselves, but then trampled on their right to individual expression.

    My career is in textbook publishing, catering to state standards. I would so love to go over to the other side and write/edit Christian materials, especially for the homeschool market.


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