Bible scriptures have no place in school, even when engraved in memorial bricks paid for by willing donors. A fundraiser for a government high school raised had already raised $45,000 when it was abruptly canceled by government officials when they learned that two women ordered bricks with Bible verses after paying between $100 and $250 for them.
It is unclear how often the women study the Bible or whether they follow true religion, but they felt strongly about their right to share their tributes in a way similar to the other program participants.
PTA fundraising run amok
PTA officials seemed to find a winning idea when they decided to raise money for walkways at the school by selling bricks. Adding value to the bricks was easy: allow buyers to order their bricks inscribed with memorial messages that had personal meaning to the buyers.
The sale had all indications of success until Sheryl Caronna and Lou Ann Hart ordered their memorial bricks with Bible scriptures engraved in them. The government school rejected the bricks ordered by the women based on its belief that the Bible is not compatible with a government school. Fearing that the bricks would unconstitutionally set up religion at the school, the district returned the bricks to their buyers.
In a lawsuit filed in January, Hart and Caronna alleged that they were subjects of discrimination based on their religion. Also, the government abridged their right to free speech on public property. The pair sought an injunction against the district that would compel it to accept their bricks as part of the memorial walkway program.
Refunds on the way
In effort to stave off a court decision in favor of the bricks with Bible verses, the Desert Sands Unified School District decided to cancel the fundraiser altogether, issuing full refunds to all donors to the program.
Whether the buyers can keep the bricks they ordered remains unclear.
An attorney working for the Alliance Defense Fund, David Cortman, says this:
‘It is cowardly to shut everyone’s participation in this programme simply out of animosity toward Christian speech.
The rules of the fundraising program allowed Bible verses and constituted no constitutional issues, so the case against the school district appeared strong. Additionally, officials apparently accepted many bricks with religious quotes from other religions.
A settled case
School district spokespeople have told media outlets that the cancelling of the program brought about a deal to end the case brought by the two women whose bricks stirred controversy. The district has agreed to present clearer and stricter guidelines should a brick fundraiser move forward at a later date, Fox News reports.
Other details of the settlement remain unclear.
Between the lines
School district officials and their attorneys apparently felt that the case against them was strong, else they would not have abruptly settled the matter out of court.
Those who study the Bible know that as time progresses, attacks on the freedoms of Christians will continue. However, that a case supporting Bible verses could lead toward a favorable outcome in such a progressive hotbed of liberalism as California is an encouraging sign. The outcome suggests that Christians who stand up for their rights can still win cases and can still impact a society that is openly hostile to their cause.