NAZARETH, Pa. – Parents of a first grade student in Pennsylvania are outraged after school officials forbid their son from passing out his Valentine’s Day cards that included a Bible verse and message about God. Donald and Ellen Abramo claim that the officials at Shafer Elementary School in Nazareth, Pennsylvania have violated their son’s constitutional rights.
The Abramo family has filed a lawsuit against the Nazareth Area School District, represented by Matt Sharp, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm.
Sharp made this statement to WFMZ-TV:
“They prepared a Valentine’s note that said this is the history of Valentine’s and we wanted to share a message of God’s love for you, so they included Bible Verse John 3:16. The teacher sees the Bible verse, brings it up to the principle and ultimately it led to the notes being removed from our client’s cards.”
The Abramo family originally intended on passing out candy, but after being told they could not, decided to work on the personalized greetings. It was only the note attached to the cards that had the religious message.
The note said, “Happy Valentine’s Day! St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love. In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves you!”
According to legal documents, the child, identified as J.A. was extremely upset and cried over the incident as he and his three siblings had worked hard on the cards at home. The other three siblings had no issues with handing out their Valentine cards in their classrooms.
The lawsuits aim is to overturn the district’s policy banning the distribution of religious materials. The Abramo family claims this incident has violated their sons freedom of speech. The lawsuit was filed in Federal Court on Monday. The school district has not made any comments publicly at this time but school district solicitor Gary Brienza followed up with an email to the Abramos saying he was looking into the matter and said it is “being taken seriously.”