School Apologizes for Violating Sixth-Grader’s Religious Liberty Rights

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from Liberty Institute,

Last week, Somerset Academy officials issued a written apology for denying 12-year-old Mackenzie Fraiser the right to include a Bible verse in a homework assignment. Somerset Academy, a public charter school in Las Vegas, Nevada, agreed to allow Mackenzie to resubmit her assignment with her religious beliefs included.

In February, Mackenzie, a sixth grader, was assigned a project to compose a PowerPoint presentation called “All About Me” that was to include a slide with an “inspirational saying” important to her identity. Mackenzie’s Christian faith is a central aspect of her identity. So she wanted to use a Bible verse—John 3:16—as her “inspirational saying.” However, the teacher told the class that they could not use “Bible verses or quotations from the Book of Mormon” on the “inspirational sayings” slide.

Two months later, Mackenzie was assigned a project on self-esteem. When Mackenzie’s stepmother suggested she reference how her self esteem derives from being made in the image of God, Mackenzie became nervous and told her parents about how the use of Bible verses had been banned in the “All About Me” presentation. This had led Mackenzie to believe it was wrong, even illegal, to express her faith in school assignments.

Mackenzie’s father, a pastor, emailed school officials to find out why his daughter had not been allowed to include a Bible verse in her assignment. Somerset Academy’s Assistant Principal replied—incorrectly—that the school was following U.S. Department of Education Guidelines.

Mackenzie’s story received national attention when FOX News contributor Todd Starnes reported on the case in his “American Dispatch” column and it was subsequently covered by other national media including the Associated Press, Breitbart, The Blaze, and Fox & Friends.

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