Missouri Family E-News

January 13, 2015

                 
Bible Not Welcome in Missouri Middle School?   

The forces of secular purity appear to be at it again in yet another Missouri school district.  This time in Marshall, Missouri.

The parents of a student in seventh grade say he was told by a teacher he could not read his Bible during free time at his middle school.

12 year-old Loyal Grandstaff is a student at Bueker Middle School in Marshall.  He says he was silently reading his Bible during free time in a class when a teacher told him it was not permitted.

"He doesn't want me reading it in his class because he don't believe it,"  the middle-schooler reported.

Loyal says he brings his Bible to school because he  enjoys it.  "I like to read my Bible because it is a good book.  I had free time, so I just broke it out to read it."

Justin Grandstaff, Loyal's dad, was frustrated that the teacher was denying his son's freedom of religion during a time when no instruction was occurring.  He also questioned the school district's priorities.

"There are kids walking around disrespecting teachers, kids walking around cussing and everything else, and they practically get into no trouble at all," he said.

Bueker Middle School Principal Lance Tobin says the incident has not been "validated," and that Bibles are welcome in the school.

If the incident did occur as the family claims, it would be a clear violation of Missouri's religious liberty amendment in the Missouri Constitution.

Approved by voters in August of 2012, it guarantees public school students "the right to free exercise of religious expression without interference" so long as such expression is private and voluntary and not disruptive of instructional class time.

The incident would also be a violation of a law adopted by the Missouri General Assembly last session known as the Student Religious Liberties Act.

That law provides that students may pray or engage in religious activities before, during, or after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that students may engage in non-religious activities or expression.

We pray that Missouri school administrators and instructional staff will become familiar with Missouri's laws and constitution. 

It makes little sense for students to take classes in the Missouri Constitution if teachers are going to pay no attention to it themselves.

We continue to believe many school district employees attempt to stifle religious expression due to a false understanding of the constitutional theory of the "separation of church and state."

However, there is no excuse for the failure by school administrators to educate teaching staff on the free exercise rights of their students, considering the very specific laws that have recently been enacted on this subject.

Federal courts have made clear that student's free speech rights do not end at the schoolhouse door.  We applaud parents like the Grandstaff's who are taking a stand to make sure that that is so.


  

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Atlanta Fire Chief
Fired from Job for Christian Beliefs

The city of Atlanta has demonstrated the extent of its anti-Christian bigotry by firing its longtime Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran.  Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced last week that he was dismissing Cochran from his job despite a career of notable distinction in the fire service.

As we reported previously, Chief Cochran was suspended from his post in late November because of his belief in Biblical teaching concerning sexual morality.  Mayor Reed took Cochran to task for authoring a Christian discipleship book for men without the "permission" of city officials. 

Cochran's book, titled "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" was written for use by men's Bible study groups.  In the book, Cochran urges men to be faithful husbands and fathers, and to live lives of sexual purity.  Cochran challenged men to resist any form of "uncleanness...which defiles the temple of the body and dishonors God."

Cochran cited Biblical examples of "uncleanness" including sex outside of marriage, sex with multiple partners, and sex with individuals of the same gender.   He pointed readers to Biblical passages that provide clear direction on these subjects.  He counseled men to avoid such "vile" and "vulgar" behavior, and to live as men "clothed in Christ."

Homosexual rights activists went on the rampage when they learned of Cochran's publication, demanding that city officials boot the Fire Chief for daring to write a book that cast homosexuality in a negative light.   It is of note that the subject of homosexuality is addressed on only one page of the 160-page book.

Mayor Reed insists that Chief Cochran's firing has nothing to do with religious freedom or freedom of speech.  The Mayor says that the reason for Cochran's dismissal is his failure to obtain approval from Atlanta city government before printing his Christian Bible study book.  Yet it is clear from Mayor Reed's own words that Cochran was fired because of the Christian content of his book.

Mayor Reed derided the "inflammatory content" contained in Cochran's publication.  "I want to be clear that the material in Cochran's book is not representative of my personal beliefs," Reed said.  "I am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the book regarding the LGBT community.  I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration."

Well, it is clear that Mayor Reed will not only tolerate discrimination, he will be an agent of such discrimination when it comes to Christian employees of the city of Atlanta.  Reed maintains he is a Christian, yet states that the views Chief Cochran expressed, taken directly from the Bible, are not reflective of his personal beliefs.  As such, Mayor Reed is somehow asserting that he is a Christian who does not agree with the Word of God because it contains "inflammatory content."

"Christians have a right to express our beliefs regarding our faith and be respected for our position without hate and discrimination," says Chief Cochran.  "In the United States, no one should be vilified, hated or discriminated against for expressing their beliefs."

Chief Cochran says he did speak with city ethics officers before he published the book, and that he was given express permission to include his biography as Atlanta Fire Chief in the book.  Cochran says he also gave Mayor Reed a personal copy of the book, which the Mayor promised the Fire Chief he would read.

"I do not carry hatred in my heart for any group of people," Chief Cochran says.  "There is not any person or any people group that I have interacted with for any measure of time that can say that is true."
"This incident is a shocking display of anti-religious prejudice," says Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council.  "The idea that you should have to surrender your First Amendment rights merely for being a public servant is outrageous."

"First, liberals wanted Americans to check our beliefs at the workplace door," Perkins comments.  "Now the expectation is that anyone in public service shouldn't serve in Sunday school, lead Bible studies, write Christian books, or believe anything contrary to the state religion of secularism."

Kelvin Cochran has served as a firefighter since 1981.  He was named Atlanta's Fire Chief in 2008.  In 2009, he served a brief stint as the Fire Administrator for the U.S. Fire Administration after an appointment by President Obama.  He returned as Atlanta's Fire Chief in 2010, where his record has been unblemished.

Cochran is an active member of Elizabeth Baptist Church in the Atlanta area, where he serves as a deacon and Sunday school teacher.  The Georgia Baptist Convention condemned Chief Cochran's termination, and has engaged a petition drive calling for his reinstatement.

"The government is not to be Lord over anyone's conscience," the Georgia Baptists said in a statement.  "We are honored to be able to stand with Chief Cochran and other Christians who are standing for Biblical principles and being punished and marginalized for their faith."

Tony Perkins pointed out the stark contrast in how the Kelvin Cochran matter was handled compared to a recent incident in the Providence, Rhode Island Fire Department.  There, a group of Christian firefighters took the city to court because they had been compelled to drive and ride a city fire truck as part of a homosexual rights parade. 

The firefighters objected to the outrageous duty, saying it would convey their approval of immoral behavior.  A judge recently dismissed the case, ruling that driving a fire truck at the head of a "gay rights" parade is somehow a "legitimate work assignment," and not a violation of the firefighters' religious beliefs.

You can sign the petition calling for Chief Cochran to be returned to his job by using this link:
Support Chief Cochran  

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