ACLU alleges comically unconstitutional religious harassment in rural Louisiana school

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The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana filed a lawsuit this week against a public school district in rural western Louisiana contending that school officials and at least one teacher harassed a Buddhist sixth-grade student for not adhering to Christianity.

The ACLU filed the suit against the Sabine Parish school board in U.S. District Court in Shreveport on behalf of parents Scott and Sharon Lane, reports local CBS affiliate KSLA. One of the Lanes’ children, called “C.C.” in the suit, is a Buddhist of Thai descent.

The parents claim that school officials began harassing him about his religious beliefs almost immediately after he showed up at Negreet High School.

“This particular child he had to leave that school because he was subject to repeated harassment,” said the ACLU of Louisiana’s executive director, Marjorie Esman, according to the station.

The ACLU lawsuit alleges comically unconstitutional actions on the part of teachers and administrators.

For example, explains, the suit claims that science teacher Rita Roark routinely includes fill-in-the-blank questions on her tests such as “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The ACLU claims that the credited answer for the question is the word “LORD.” When the Buddhist student didn’t input that answer, Roark allegedly made fun of him in front of the entire class.

The suit says Roark also called Buddhism “stupid” in a comparative religions segment.

In addition, the suit asserts, Roark told students that the Bible is completely factual, that God created the earth about 6,000 years ago and that evolution is not possible.

Beyond Roark’s classroom, the ACLU lawsuit accuses the school of regularly having Christian prayer in school and featuring all manner of Christian representations including a portrait of Jesus Christ and Bible verses that school on an electric marquee at the school’s main entrance.

The suit claims that the boy’s parents noted their objections to these overt Christian messages. Sabine Parish superintendent Sara Ebarb allegedly responded by suggesting that the kid either “change” his religious beliefs or enroll in a school some 25 miles down the road where “there are more Asians,” according to

The school district has released a statement in response to the ACLU suit, notes KLSA.

“The Sabine Parish School Board has only recently been made aware of the lawsuit filed by the ACLU,” the statement reads in part. “A lawsuit only represents one side’s allegations, and the board is disappointed that the ACLU chose to file suit without even contacting it regarding the facts.”

The statement goes on to say that the school district “recognizes the rights of all students to exercise the religion of their choice and will defend the lawsuit vigorously.”

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Eric Owens