The parents of a first-grade student are suing a Pennsylvania school district, claiming their son's constitutional rights were trampled when he was forbidden from handing out a Valentine's Day card that included a Bible verse and a message about God.
Donald and Ellen Abramo claim that officials at Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth, Pa., violated their son's constitutional rights when he was reportedly forbidden from distributing the cards.
Now, Matt Sharp, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, is defending the Abramo family in their legal battle against the Nazareth Area School District.
"They prepared a Valentine's note that said this is the history of Valentine's and we wanted to share God's love, message of God's love for you, so they included the Bible verse John 3:16," Sharp told WFMZ-TV. "The teacher sees the Bible verse, brings it up to the principal and ultimately it led to the notes being removed from our client's cards."
It was the note attached to the Valentine's Day card that included the Bible verse and religious message.
The affixed paper read, "Happy Valentine's Day! St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God's love. In honor of St. Valentine's Day, I want you to know that God loves you!!!"
The family initially wanted to hand out candy, but after learning that they could not, they opted to work on the greetings, according to the lawsuit. The parents claim that the principal later told them that religious materials couldn't be distributed during school hours.
The child, identified as J.A. in legal documents, was apparently upset and cried over the incident, as he and his siblings had worked on the cards at home and he didn't understand why the cards weren't allowed; three of his siblings were apparently able to hand them out in their classrooms without incident.
Considering some of the other themes allowed on children's cards, Sharp said the refusal was confounding.
"Some of the other cards that were allowed, one of them had a kind of open laughing skull. There was others that had Star Wars, the troopers with guns," the attorney added. "It's just troubling when all of that other stuff is allowed and then here's a message about Valentine's and quoting a Bible verse and it's the one that's targeted out and censored."
The lawsuit seeks to halt the district's crackdown on the distribution of religious materials and also calls for the payment of legal fees. Read the document in its entirety here.
The district has not publicly commented on the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court on Monday.
Featured image via WFMZ-TV