Fountain Valley High School Restricts Students' Expression of Christian Beliefs

( [email protected] ) Nov 01, 2003 09:04 AM EST

Is boasting about being a Christian still hard?

On behalf of the students and their parents, who were excluded from the senior class picture because they were wearing clothes that displayed religious beliefs, the Pacific Justice Institute, which is a non-profit organization, which specializes in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties, took action to justify the restriction imposed by the school.

At Fountain Valley High School in California, the senior class was taking a group picture for their student yearbook. Like other students at school, who take pictures together with their friends to include in the yearbook, several passionate Christian students who freely wished to display their faith, decided to take picture together wearing T-shirts that represent Jesus with a logo sign such as “Jesus Is The Way” and “Jesus [Loves] You” However immediately upon seen what they were wearing, they were informed that any kind of religious messages were not allowed to be shown in the pictures by the school officials, right before it was their turn for the shot.

Because the students couldn’t change their shirts, they had to be excluded from the taking the picture. Not only the Christian students but also the Muslim students who had headscarves on them and the students who were wearing clothes with visible name brands or logos were excluded from the photograph.

The Pacific Justice Institute wrote a letter to the school district Superintendent to show the school that it is illegal of their action to restrict students from expressing their religious beliefs and asked the school to retake pictures for those students who were rejected.

"It seems fairly clear that school officials at FVHS have not only violated the free speech and religious free exercise rights of various students, they have violated the often misunderstood and misapplied 'separation between church and state' doctrine by discriminatorily allowing one group of students to wear their religious clothing, but disallowing another group from wearing theirs," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. "We sincerely hope that the school district recognizes the multiple civil rights violations that have been committed, and for the sake of avoiding a costly litigation battle, follows the recommendations that were made in our letter to the district Superintendent."