The Webster dictionary defines “idolize” as the act of loving someone very much, or to worship someone as a god. It should not be much of a surprise, then, when students at Lucy Elementary School in Memphis, TN were asked to write an essay about someone they idolized, a student chose to write about God.
Instead, that’s when the trouble began.
According to a report by CBS affiliate WREG, after 10-year-old Erin Shead turned in an essay in which she talked about idolizing God, her teacher told her God couldn’t be her idol and she would have to choose another subject. The teacher then accepted her second choice, Michael Jackson.
“It was so cute and innocent. She talked about how God created the earth and how she’s doing the best she can,” Shead’s mother Erica told WREG. She said Erin’s teacher told her she couldn’t write about God, and God could not be the child’s idol. The student was not allowed to turn in the essay, and was forced to take it home, choose another subject, and write the essay again. The teacher accepted her second essay about idolizing Michael Jackson.
Shead called the school principal about the incident, asking why a Christian was not allowed to freely write about God. Although there have been no reports of the principal responding to her call, the Shelby County School District released this statement to the media:
Shelby County Schools respects the moral and religious beliefs of all students and families. While teachers and staff are not permitted to promote religion in the classroom, no laws or district policies allow teachers to limit students’ expression of religious beliefs in their personal classwork. This was a regrettable misunderstanding, and we as educators must learn from it. The principal and teacher have had a positive and productive conversation with the family, and we are pleased this matter is being addressed at the school level. The district will not be discussing this matter further in the media.
The school would not comment directly about the incident, saying it wanted to respect the student’s privacy.
Respecting the student’s right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, it would seem, is another matter entirely.
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. Click here to receive a weekly email update from WhenLiberalsAttack.com. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SUBSCRIBE link at the top of this page.