A charter school in Temecula, California has recently banned all Christian material from its school library. One parent of students enrolled at Springs Charter School was shocked when she saw which books librarians were taking off the shelves to give away.
Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom’s popular “The Hiding Place” was among the books targeted for removal. When the parent asked what was going on, library staff told her that they had been given orders to remove all Christian books, books by Christian authors, and books by Christian publishers.
Springs Charter Schools in Temecula, Calif., not only had a problem with “The Hiding Place,” they also took issue with any other book that was written by a Christian author or included a Christian message.
“We do not purchase sectarian educational materials and do not allow sectarian materials on our state-authorized lending shelves,” Superintendent Kathleen Hermsmeyer wrote in a letter to attorneys at the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).
The Pacific Justice Institute is representing a parent who discovered what they are calling a “Christian purging” of the charter school’s library.
“She (the parent) was told by one of the library attendants that the library has been instructed to remove all books with a Christian message, authored by Christians, or published by a Christian publishing company,” read a letter PJI sent to the public charter school.
“The attendant advised that the library would no longer be carrying those books. Indeed, our client was told that the library was giving those books away, and she actually took some.”
Superintendent Hermsmeyer responded to the letter she received from Pacific Justice Institute:
“We are a public school, and as such, we are barred by law from purchasing sectarian curriculum materials with state funds,” she wrote. “We only keep on our shelves the books that we are authorized to purchase with public funds.”
The Pacific Justice Institute said the charter school has violated the First Amendment. They cited a 1982 Supreme Court ruling that said “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.’” If you’d like to read the entire case – it’s “Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico.”
Hermsmeyer denied they were discriminating against Christian authors or publishing companies.
“At no time, however, have we discriminated against Christian authors or publishing companies who create secular educational materials,” she wrote.
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