If you saw the news headlines back in early June regarding the Zavala family and the Desert Rose Elementary School, you’ll remember why we were concerned about the threat of religious freedom being taken from a seven-year-old boy.
In short, a young boy in our local Palmdale school district was told that he could not give out cards with Scripture verses to classmates who were requesting them during his lunchtime.
It all started when the boy’s mother, Christina Zavala, included an encouraging note and verse in his lunch each day. As this first-grader read his notes to his friends, they began looking forward to the note and verse each day. This led to his mother making extra copies for him to give to his friends…which in turn led to a complaint and to the school dispatching an officer to the home to tell the family to stop.
When we heard about this situation, we did what we could to encourage the Zavala family and their son and to be a voice for freedom. I shared the news online, conducted a press conference with other leaders in our community, and encouraged others to call and write the school board. Thankfully, the attorneys and the school district came to an agreement that this child had every right to discuss religious issues during non-instructional time.
Sometimes we give up hope and think the small contribution we can make to speak up—the single letter, phone call, or social media post—won’t make a difference anyway. Sometimes we think the single stand—one first grader passing out verses at lunch—does little to stem the erosion of religious liberty.
Is that true?
Not if you judge by school district’s formal ruling last week that students may continue to read, distribute, and discuss Bible verses with other students during non-instructional time. This decision was reported on the front page of our Antelope Valley Press Sunday edition with the headline “Religious issue at school solved.”
This is an encouraging victory, and we rejoice in it.
But remember, it was sparked by a young boy who stood for his faith. And it was supported by local voices who wrote letters and called the school district.
If you are concerned about the erosion of religious liberty in today’s society but are inclined to believe your voice is too weak, too insignificant to really make a difference, be encouraged through this victory to continue to speak up for freedom. Contact those in authority as needed.
You may not be a lawyer or a lawmaker. But you do have a voice. Use it in support of religious freedom.
And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.—1 Samuel 14:6