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New York Appeals Court Clamps Down on Any Display or Influence of Christianity from Classroom

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan sided with a lower court’s ruling that Joelle Silver, a biology and anatomy teacher at Cheektowaga High School, should take down religious items in the classroom, such as posters, drawings and even the sticky notes with verses attached to the back of her desk.
Photo showing a classroom Pixabay

An appeals court upheld a previous decision ordering a high school teacher to remove Christian materials from her desk and classroom.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan sided with a lower court's ruling that Joelle Silver, a biology and anatomy teacher at Cheektowaga High School, should take down religious items in the classroom, such as posters, drawings and even the sticky notes with verses attached to the back of her desk, Christian News reported.

In 2012, a student informed the Freedom from Religion Foundation that Silver's classroom displayed a poster with the text from 1 Corinthians 6:13-14: "Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done in love."

The student reported there was also a drawing featuring three crosses, plus another poster with a quote from former Pres. Reagan which, in part, says, "Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience."

The FFRF filed a complaint against the Cheektowaga Central School District, which then instructed Silver through a letter to remove all Christian materials from her classroom or she would face termination. The school district also reminded her to refrain from delivering instructional materials that would seek to influence her personal beliefs to her students.

School district superintendent Dennis Kane also told her that if she should wish to look at Bible verses during the day, she should keep them in a folder and make sure she's the only one who could see them.

"Please be advised that your failure to follow any of the above directions will be considered insubordination, which could lead to serious disciplinary consequences, including the termination of your employment," Kane said in the letter.

Silver filed a lawsuit against the school district, claiming it violated her First Amendment Rights.  

"I believe that my First Amendment rights were violated last June when I was asked to do some things regarding taking some posters down and to censor my speech in the classroom," Silver said. "As a Christian and as an American I feel it's incredibly important to fight to protect the rights that people have died to give them."

In 2014, Judge Leslie G. Foschio ruled Silver's First Amendment rights were not violated when the school district ordered her to take down the relgious materials from the classroom.

Lawyers from the American Freedom Law Center of Ann Arbor, Mich., which filed the lawsuit for Silver, said Foschio's ruling was "dripping with hostility to religion" and was "essentially a religious cleansing that was complete and thorough."

"This case should remove any lingering doubts as to whether our government, which includes the judiciary, is hostile to religion," Robert J. Muise, co-founder of the organization, said.

Tags : Joelle Silver, Cheektowaga Central School District, Cheektowaga High School, Religious Freedom, First Amendment rights, Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Freedom Law Center, Dennis Kane, Judge Leslie G. Foschio, Christianity