I’ll bet a lot of school officials nationwide are wishing they had the kind of students like high school senior Chase Windebank, who attends Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Rather than sneaking to the lavatory to smoke, brawling, or vandalizing school property during free period, Windebank and his friends would gather and talk together about their Christian faith—until late September that is, when the assistant principal informed them that they were violating separation of church and state, and they needed to stop. As WND’s Drew Zahn reports:
Religious discussion gatherings, the school insists, can only take place before or after school hours.
Now, with the help of attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, Windebank is suing the school to lift the ban and restore what he says are protected First Amendment rights.
“Far from being unconstitutional, religious speech is expressly protected by the First Amendment,” says ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp, “and public schools have no business stopping students from praying together during their free time.” …
The controversy swirls around use of the “Seminar” period, a 40-minute window when students with adequate grades are permitted a degree of free time during the school day.
According to court documents, students excused from Seminar to enjoy the free time are permitted to engage in “a virtually unlimited variety of activities,” including free movement in the school’s public areas, discussions with other students, texting, getting a snack, visiting with teachers or even scheduling official meetings of school clubs.
The one thing Windebank and his fellow Christians have been told they can’t do, however, is talk about God.
School officials are claiming that Windebank and his friends are behaving as a non-curriculum group, and therefore must limit their conversations and prayers to before- or after-hours.
One wonders if that same illogic is applied to kids who enjoy video games, band, drama, or sports and have the nerve to talk about those activities during school hours, too.
It’s more likely that there’s an unhealthy dose of political incorrectness at play here—not any reverence for church/state separation. In fact, one could further wonder whether the school would have taken any action if the students were discussing a faith other than Christianity.
Parents choose their children’s schools based on many factors. One of those leading factors, along with academics, is having their beliefs nurtured and supported. When taxpayer-funded, government-run schools start behaving as though students’ expressions of faith should be relegated to the catacombs, it’s time to separate the state from schooling.