Who would say a Christian Pro-Life T-shirt was the same as a Nazi Swastika?
by Rick Wesley, CCN-USA Correspondent
||More young people are standing up for truth and life.
Try the principal of a large school, a man entrusted with shaping and molding young minds.
Neal McCarthy, principal at Abington Junior High School, a public school in Abington, Pa., confronted a student and demanded the boy either turn his shirt inside out or cover it up in some manner.
The honor student's "crime"?
Principal McCarthy said the shirt's pro-life message was equivalent to wearing a shirt with a swastika - which he would not allow either.
The front of this particular "swastika-like" T-shirt reads: "Abortion is Homicide" with "You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation. Rock for Life."
"That 'Abortion is Homicide' would be equated to a swastika?? It's a joke," said Erik Whittington, spokesman for the American Life League (ALL). The shirt in question was a "Rock for Life" T-shirt. Rock for Life is an ALL project.
Whittington described the incident's progression to CCN-USA. After the confrontation with the principal, the student (who wishes to remain anonymous) agreed to turn the shirt inside out.
However his mother, when informed of what had transpired, was not quite so compliant. She contacted Whittington who directed her to the Thomas More Law Center, a Michigan based group which defends the religious freedoms of Christians, family values, and the sanctity of human life through litigation.
Edward L. White III, an associate counsel with the Thomas More Law Center then sent a four-page letter to Abington school officials outlining the student's constitutional right to wear the pro-life clothes. The letter also demanded written assurance from Abington officials by Jan. 31, that the student would not suffer future harassment when he wore his pro-life apparel to class.
Key to the outcome, according to Whittington, was that the shirt could not be interpreted as hate speech, as the principal alluded to with his swastika analogy. A swastika or a racial epithet could be interpreted as "fighting words" and as such be prohibited. Thomas More's White pointed out that "the student's speech did not cause any substantial and material disruptions to the workings of the school" and that there "was no legal basis on which to restrict his speech."
Knowing that the student could also pursue the matter in federal court, attorneys for the school district acquiesced Jan. 29th and agreed with Thomas More that the student did indeed have a First Amendment right to wear his pro-life clothing.
"Too often public school officials forget that the First Amendment protects student pro-life messages," White said. "We are pleased that the school has quickly corrected its mistake and has acknowledged our client's First Amendment right to wear the pro-life T-shirt to school."
In many cases all it takes is a single student in a school of perhaps several thousand to start trouble for a Christian teen. "It just takes one student to say 'that pro-life shirt offends me.' Then they're harassed," Whittington said, adding that a similar situation with a student wearing the same "Rock for Life" T-shirt occurred at a Cleveland school in mid-February.
Whittington alerted the Cleveland media who then made the situation uncomfortable for school administrators with the resultant publicity.
As per usual, God has taken a situation intended for evil and turned it into something good.
As a result of all the publicity from school officials trying to ban the Rock for Life T-shirts, "We've gotten a huge amount of requests for the T-shirts," Whittington laughed.