Third Grader Caught Evangelizing on Playground

I’m going to simply ask some questions here on this story from OneNewsNow about a third grader, a little girl by the name of Felicia Clark, who was stopped from handing out Christian tracts during recess at an elementary school in Pennsylvania. The Rutherford Institute has come to her defense.¬†There may be a possible lawsuit on constitutional grounds that Felicia’s right to “freedom of religious expression” was violated. How old is this girl?

The first reaction, maybe by even nonChristians, is to go, “Awww, leave the cute kid alone.” But stop and think. Did that little girl come up with this idea all on her own? Did she buy those Christian tracts all on her own? Do you think possibly someone instructed her to pass those tracts out?

Yes, I’m always the suspicious one. Possibly Felicia was in Sunday School and there was some sort of lesson on sharing the gospel with friends. Maybe from that lesson she got the idea all on her own (barring her Sunday School teacher) to take her valuable playtime and hand out tracts to other third graders. The only reason I think this could be true is how bad of a strategy it is to hand out tracts to other little kids: what third grader is seriously going to halt their playtime and sit down to read a religious tract? It’s hard enough to get them to pay attention in class.

If this was all Felicia’s idea, not her parents or a youth pastor or some sort of group-led evangelizing project at church, they may have a case. I don’t believe you leave your freedom of expression at the door when you enter a public school either. But to prove this with a third grader is going to be difficult. Third graders are highly impressionable (correct me if I’m wrong child psychology major out there) and mimic the adults around them, in particular the wishes of their parents.

It just seems like a calculated effort to make secular school authorities look like villains because they’re picking on a sweet, innocent little girl just wanting to bring the light of Jesus to the kids destined for hell around her. That’s my cynical side speaking. If it wasn’t, well, Felicia is in the thick of it as the adults are now going to play.

As I do not have kids of my own, I’m not sure how I would feel as an atheist if my kid brought home a religious tract from school. I’m not the sort of person to freak out and go calling the school board or the media voicing my parental protest on what may be more of a trivial issue. More likely I would sit down with my kid and explain the tract and why I think it’s a bunch of nonsense. However, my kid would have to make that determination for them self¬†later on in life when they are able to reason through all of their options for belief or disbelief. I would be concerned if the tract was coming from a religious organization working through little kids and it was fairly obvious what was going on. Felicia can have her freedom of religious expression, but not if she’s a pawn.

I can see parents of different religions having a problem with it. They’re not sending their kids to a public school to be witnessed to on the playground. It’s not like the kid was wearing a T-shirt that says, “I love Jesus.” She was actively recruiting for Christ on school grounds. I kind of doubt she was all on her own.

Here’s my last question: how would everyone react if my little atheist kid handed out tracts to Felicia and her friends saying there was no evidence for God? You think the same parents and religious institutions would jump to protect his/her freedom of expression? I think they would view my kid as a little monster (images of the kid from The Omen come to mind).

One thought on “Third Grader Caught Evangelizing on Playground

  1. I am a Christian but not a “6,000 year creationist.” I would have no problem at all with your kids handing out pro-atheism tracts to my kids. I would love to read them and talk about them with my kids. Exposure to other’s ideas can strengthen your own belief in your ideas. And sometimes they expose a problem with your belief that you had not thought of and need to review.

    On the main point, though, I agree if the girl was acting out a script written by others she is not really “exercising her religious freedom.” If she was acting out her own wishes, however, then she was. It’s a pretty subjective call to make, and because it is, it should probably be resolved in favor of letter her exercise of the right.

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