NJ School Mocks Christians with Columbine-Style 'Mock Hostage Drill' - Offends Students and Parents
Contact: Bob Pawson, National Coordinator, Scriptures in Schools Project, 609-610-3522 cell, 800-384-1222 voice mailbox, BobPawson@bringyourbible.com
TRENTON, NJ, Apr. 2 /Christian Newswire/ -- Bob Pawson, National Coordinator of the Scriptures in Schools Project, responds to reports that Burlington Township High School in NJ staged a mock school shooting and hostage drama -- complete with anti-Christian bigotry. After school was dismissed, scores of Christian students went home and informed their parents of this vile outrage.
The mock terrorist attack was carried out by police detectives portraying two angry Christian men armed with handguns. They invaded the school's front door; pretended to gun down several students in the hallways; and then took ten students hostage while barricading themselves in the school's media center.
The fake gunmen were described as "members of a right-wing fundamentalist group called the 'New Crusaders' who don't believe in separation of church and state." The mock-Christian terrorists "went to the school seeking justice because the daughter of one had been expelled for praying before class."
Before the Thursday, March 22, 2007 exercise, Superintendent Chris Manno said, "We need to practice under conditions as real as possible..."
"So what allegedly real condition was imagineered?" asks Pawson, a Trenton public school teacher. "A grotesque scenario saturated with Christian-bashing prejudice and bigotry; a scenario which could never possibly occur."
"Why could it never happen?" Pawson said. "Because, as all Burlington school officials know full well: It is perfectly legal for any student or staff member to pray in a public school. They know that no student can ever be expelled for praying before class. Hence, the contrived reason for the mock attack is bogus."
US Department of Education guidelines state: "The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression -- such as prayer."
The No Child Left Behind Act penalizes any school district which "prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools.
The Supreme Court has ruled that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." (Tinker v Des Moines Indep. School Dist)
According to the Burlington County Times, "The purpose of the drill was to test the reactions of police, faculty and administration."
"This denigrating drill is also a test of the reactions and responses of New Jersey's Christians, along with all other fair-minded citizens of any faith, to such a blatant example of anti-Christian animosity," said Pawson. "A public apology is in order. The citizens of Burlington County could rightly demand the resignation or termination of school officials who dreamed up and approved this reprehensible scenario."
Pawson said, "I also recommend that the churches of Burlington County encourage all of their students to pray before class daily; each and every day. Individually and in small peer-support groups. Follow through by bringing their Bibles to schools on a routine basis and using Bible references to complete some of their assignments each week all year long."
Pawson points out that Christian legal advocacy groups such as the Alliance Defense Fund, the American Center for Law & Justice, and Liberty Counsel, have full info about the rights of public school students and employees.
Links to original press reports:
Hostage drill prepares school for crisis (phillyBurbs.com) Burlington County Times
Hostage drill prepares school for crisis