ADF partners with a Christian education group to build awareness of students’ religious liberties
The problem, Eric Buehrer says, is not that public school districts aren’t allowed to let students express their Christian faith in the classroom – it’s that teachers and principals don’t know they have that permission.
Buehrer is president of Gateways to Better Education, an organization that equips and encourages public school parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members to get past the delusion that learning about Christian history and ideas in the classroom is somehow against the law.
Incredibly, he says, the Department of Education has issued information three times in 14 years to district superintendents all over the U.S., affirming religious freedom on school campuses. But somehow, that message never gets communicated to parents and school officials.
"There’s a tremendous amount of confusion and disinformation out there," Buehrer says. "We just want to bring some clarity to the situation."
Toward that end, Gateways is working with the Alliance Defense Fund on a national "Free To Speak" campaign, designed to accomplish – through a "bottom-up" strategy – what the DOE hasn’t been able to do from the top down. Gateways hopes to put pocket-sized pamphlets with the DOE guidelines on religious freedom in schools into the hands of half a million students, parents, and educators nationwide by the end of the year.
Every person who orders a packet of pamphlets can then give ADF information on a school in their area, and an ADF lawyer will send that school’s principal a friendly letter outlining the rights of students and teachers in an easy-to-read question-and-answer format. A few months later, Gateways will follow up with those who’ve purchased packets, asking what impact religious liberty has had in the local schools.
"We would love to see the day when teachers say to their students, ‘My class is a safe place for you to express your family’s religious beliefs," Buehrer says.
"The Alliance Defense Fund has been very helpful with this campaign," he adds. "They reached out to us, and we’re privileged to be working with them to have a positive impact."