Told to take it off by Hoover Middle School Teacher…
MERCED, CA – A Merced student and his mother recently purchased a shirt from the family of Raymond Martinez, a 16-year-old Livingston High School student who was hit by a car while riding his bike home on March 27, 2016 on Walnut Ave., near Sultana at approximately 8:30 p.m. The vehicle continued on without stopping and authorities have asked for the public’s help in finding the driver/vehicle.
“We purchased the shirt for $20.00 to help support the family with funeral expenses for my son’s friend Raymond,” said Torrence Finley. “My son wore it today as did other students who had purchased the shirt in remembrance of him. But while on break at Hoover Middle School, an 8th grade teacher noticed the shirt my son was wearing had a bible verse on the back and told my son he had to take it off.”
The shirts were made by the family of Raymond to honor his short life and students at Livingston High School wore them that day as well as Raymond’s friends and family from around the valley to remember a great friend, brother, and son.
According to Finley’s son, who is a 7th grader at Hoover Middle, he didn’t argue and put his sweatshirt back on to cover the shirt. But once he was back in his 7th grade class, his teacher allowed him to wear the shirt without covering up the printed partial Psalm 23 bible verse that is on the back of each shirt and reads;
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures:
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul:
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
MCNTV News placed a call to the principal at Hoover Middle School and left a voice mail message yesterday stating we wanted to know if there were any rules that bar children who want to wear any religious items that support their beliefs are banned from being displayed in Merced public schools? As of this writing we have not received a response.
Finley’s son also confirmed that crosses are not allowed to be worn openly at school and must be under clothing or hidden. The rule may not have its roots based on the conspiracy that some educators are trying to keep religion out of school, but from gang members who started using rosaries as part of their attire identifying themselves as gang members. In response to increased gang violence in schools and the gangs being allowed to hijack religious items from churches who should denounce their association, educators have had no other alternatives but to ban many religion items out of safety concerns rather than religious concerns in today’s schools.
The establishment clause of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. constitution, as interpreted by the courts, requires that public school teachers, principals, and boards be religiously neutral. This means that schools:
May not promote a particular religion
May not promote religion in general as superior to secularism (Secularism is the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.)
They may not promote secularism.
They may not be antagonistic to either religion or secularism
They must neither advance nor inhibit religion or secularism.
According to the “Know Your Rights: Religion in Public Schools A Guide for Administrators and Teachers,” the state may neither prefer nor prohibit religious exercise but rather must remain neutral. “School sponsorship of a religious message is impermissible because it sends the ancillary message to members of the audience who are non-adherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’” Santa Fe [citing Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S., at 688 (1984) (O’Connor, J., concurring).]
“The First Amendment’s Religion Clauses mean that religious beliefs and religious expression are too precious to be either proscribed or prescribed by the State. The design of the Constitution is that preservation and transmission of religious beliefs and worship is a responsibility and a choice committed to the private sphere, which itself is promised freedom to pursue that mission.” Coles ex rel. Coles v. Cleveland Bd. of Educ., 171 F.3d 369 (6th Cir. 1999).
So in conclusion, maybe the 8th grade teacher should re educate themselves when to comes to the America Constitution and not infringe on anyone’s right to the First Amendment. Especially when they are grieving the loss of a friend.
(The writer of this story is not affiliated to any religion and follows the ways of the Lakota Sioux)