Back in December before school let out for Christmas break, a first-grader at Merced Elementary School in West Covina, California, brought Christmas candy canes to school that bore a Christian message attached to each candy cane so he could share them with his teacher and classmates. But when the teacher saw the Christian message, she confiscated the candy canes, ripped the Christian message from the candy canes and threw them in the garbage and told the student that “Jesus is not allow in school”. She then returned the candy canes to the student so he could share them with classmates:
CBS LA – Advocates for Faith & Freedom, an Irvine-based nonprofit law firm, issued a letter Monday on behalf of Isaiah Martinez, a first grader at Merced Elementary School who took traditional candy canes as Christmas gifts for his teacher, Valerie Lu, and classmates on Dec. 13, 2013, according to attorney Robert Tyler.
Each candy cane came with a message attached that recited the history of the candy cane, including references to the candy as a symbol of Jesus Christ, according to the letter (PDF) dated Jan. 6.
Attorneys say when Martinez brought the candy canes to class, Lu took possession of the candy canes, and after conferring with school principal Gordon Pfitzer, told Martinez that “Jesus is not allowed in school”.
Lu – at the apparent direction of Pfitzer – then ripped the candy cane message from each candy cane, threw the messages in the trash, and returned the candy canes back to Martinez for delivery to his classmates, according to attorneys.
In a statement, Tyler said the actions of the school district were “hostile and intimidating”, and called on officials to adopt an official policy that expressly prohibits school officials – including teachers – from “adopting any action or from engaging in any expression that can reasonably be viewed by a religiously affiliated student as disapproval of the student’s religion or hostile toward the student’s religion.”
“Advocates for Faith & Freedom has experienced a surge in phone calls from students and their parents across the country who are victims of religiously motivated bullying; not bullying by other students, but bullying by teachers and school officials,” said Tyler. “The pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that public schools are becoming a place of hostility toward Christian and other religiously-based worldviews.”
The Christian message that was attached to each candy cane is below, according to a letter from Advocates for Faith and Freedom at the link above:
A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he
made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols from the
birth, ministry, and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin
Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock, the
foundation of the Church, and firmness of the promises of God.
The candymaker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the precious
name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the staff
of the “Good Shepherd” with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world
to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red
stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus
received by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by
Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
Unfortunately, the candy became known as a Candy Cane — a meaningless
decoration seen at Christmas time. But the meaning is still there for those who
“have eyes to see and ears to hear.” Every time you see a Candy Cane, remember
the Wonder of Jesus and His Great Love that came down at Christmas, and that
His Love remains the ultimate and dominant force in the universe today.