Originally published in The Gospel Herald
Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is warning a Southern California charter school that it is violating the First Amendment after administration removed a number of library books due to their Christian content.
Fox News contributor Todd Starnes reports that a parent of students enrolled at Springs Charter Schools was recently horrified to discover the school’s library had removed the account of Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, from its shelves due to its religious content.
After learning that multiple books by Christian authors and publishers had also been removed, the parent contacted religious advocacy group PJI. PJI attorney Michael Peffer sent the school a cease-and-desist letter, citing a Supreme Court precedent that states, “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.'”
However, the superintendent of Springs Charter Schools Kathleen Hermsmeyer ignored the letter, stating, “We are a public school, and as such, we are barred by law from purchasing sectarian curriculum materials with state funds.”
She continued: “We only keep on our shelves the books that we are authorized to purchase with public funds…At no time, however, have we discriminated against Christian authors or publishing companies who create secular educational materials.”
In response, PJI President Brad Dacus denounced the move. “It is alarming that a school library would attempt to purge books from religious authors,” he said. “This is a major sweep by this charter school to eliminate the religious viewpoint. Libraries cannot engage in an open purging of books simply because they are of a Christian perspective.”
Dacus said the school must reverse “their ill-conceived and illegal book-banning policy,” and warned that such discrimination is only the beginning. “Some of the greatest literature of Western civilization comes from religious authors,” Dacus said.
“Are they going to ban the sermons or speeches of the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr.?” If the school refuses to comply with his request, Dacus said, the religious advocacy organization is prepared to take further legal action.