Public School Teacher Banishes 7-Year-Old Boy For Not Believing in God

On February 23, a group of second graders were playing on the playground at Forest Park Elementary School in Fort Wayne, Ind. It was just before lunch and the children were having a conversation. At some point the discussion turned to church, and one 7-year-old boy told a little girl he did not go to church because he did not believe in God, but it was fine with him if she did.

This made the little girl very sad and she began to cry – as 7-year-old girls are wont to do for no reason at all. However, this little girl let it be known that her feelings were hurt that her classmate did not believe in God. Not surprisingly, she told the teacher. As most experienced teachers know, second graders can be a bit…dramatic. So when Ms. Meyer heard what happened, it’s understandable that she would gently remind the students that everyone has different ideas and traditions and that what he said was not hurtful. Which is why what Ms. Meyer actually did has her being sued by the little boy’s family.

As the other children went to lunch, Ms. Meyer asked A.B. if he did indeed say he didn’t believe in God. He answered honestly and said yes and asked what he had done wrong. Ms. Meyer then began to interrogate him about whether his family went to church and if his mother knew about his feelings about God, as well as if maybe he did believe that God exists. She then said she was very upset with what he did and was going to call his mother.

It should be noted that Forest Park Elementary School is a public school. This means that students are allowed to express their religious beliefs – or lack thereof – freely. As a public school, teachers and administrators are not to admonish or reject these beliefs, but can limit discussion if it’s not relevant to the subject matter at hand. Ms. Meyer apparently did not get the memo.

A.B. was very upset after his conversation with Ms. Meyer and felt he had done something wrong, even though he wasn’t sure what. He was even more confused when Ms. Meyer said he could not join his classmates at lunch that day. For the next three days, he was forced to sit alone at lunch and was not allowed to talk to his classmates. She told him it was because he offended them.

Already extremely upset and not sure what he had done wrong, A.B. and the little girl were sent to another adult at the school to discuss what happened. Upon hearing A.B’s explanation, the adult patted the little girl’s head and said she should not be worried and to be happy that she had faith. Also, she should not listen to the A.B’s “bad ideas.”

It is no secret that most Americans believe in God. However, the number of people that do not consider themselves religious has risen steadily over the last few years. Furthermore, non-theists are becoming more vocal about what they see as the forced imposition of theist beliefs in public spaces. There have been challenges to religious imagery on government grounds, as well as being forced to recite “one nation under God” when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Recently, “religious freedom” has become the rallying cry for believers, mainly Christian ones, to express frustration at being challenged about their beliefs. They have used religion as a pretext for discrimination and refusal to follow certain laws. They also feel they have a right to force their beliefs on others, and often prove to lack the tolerance their faith teaches – especially for nonbelievers, even when they are 7-year-old boys.

When A.B. told his mother what had happened, she was understandably upset. She called the school and Ms. Meyer readily admitted to what she did. His mother demanded that he no longer be punished for his beliefs or separated from his classmates. Ms. Meyers and the other teachers told the little boy that he was free to believe whatever he wanted. However, even with the banishment lifted, the damage was done. In spite of repeated requests for the school to do more, A.B. remained isolated and several of his classmates stopped talking him.

As explained in the complaint filed last month, A. B. regularly came home from school crying. He was constantly anxious and fearful about going to school, convinced that everyone, including the teachers, hated him. The school has still refused to act. The ACLU filed the complaint, citing a violation of A.B.’s First Amendment right to free speech. They are suing Ms. Meyer as an individual, seeking unspecified damages.

In a statement issued by the school district, which is not named in the suit, they acknowledged that “it is not the province of a public school to advance or inhibit religious beliefs or practices.” They also agreed that, “the rights of any minority, no matter how small, must be protected.” Especially 7-year-old boys who don’t go to church.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

174 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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H M.
H M2 years ago

Separation of Church and State is still the law, folks. Sounds like Gina H. and friends are the ones peddling hate.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah H2 years ago

This teacher was wrong. She should have comforted the little girl. Maybe she could have begun to pray for that boy who was just saying what he had heard from his parents.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki D2 years ago

That's disgraceful.

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Diane Harms
Diane Harms2 years ago

Apparently Ms Meyer didn't get the memo. And 2nd graders don't need parents pushing thier non beliefs onto them and need to keep children out of adult conversations. Ms Meyer needs to get off the train. And these are the reasons why we need video cameras in all classrooms. As for the pledge of alligiance: It is what our country was built on and should remain in the schools for all those who died defending it and buiding the country in the firzt place. It is only respectful. And when these children grow up and can make their own decision then let them decide for themselves then.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta K2 years ago

noted

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Nicolai L.
Nicolai L2 years ago

well, when do they start the inquisition in the usa? ;)

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Manuela C.
Manuela C2 years ago

Incredible! That person is not fit to teach children.

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Russell L.
Russell L2 years ago

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/08/12/1410525/-Christian-Senator-s-Quote-Is-Bound-To-Spin-Heads-Of-Christian-Religious-Hpyocrits?detail=email

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Russell L.
Russell L2 years ago

"Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people.
Don't tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all His children.

Don't preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.

In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give."

Cory Booker

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