A Mississippi school rightly reprimanded a kid who said "Jesus Christ" out of frustration
This is not religious persecution. It's a sensible, harmless punishment.
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A Mississippi child was punished for saying “Jesus Christ” after dropping Lego pieces “he was cleaning up from recess.” So, naturally, some Christians are pretending this amounts to religious persecution.
Earlier this month, the 7-year-old son of Shonna Coleman was reprimanded by his teacher at Hope Sullivan Elementary. Coleman posted the paperwork on Facebook, urging viewers to “please pray for the schools.” (Pray for what? Who knows.)
The incident report says the child used “unacceptable language.” That makes sense. The problem isn’t what he said; it’s the way he said it. He probably would have been reprimanded for the same reason for saying “Son of a…” or “Darn it!” or “What the heck!”
Again: The fact that he said “Jesus Christ” isn’t the problem. It’s that he used the words to express frustration—an overreaction of sorts—and his teacher wanted to correct his behavior.
That’s a perfectly sensible thing for teachers to do with children.
This paperwork, I promise you, will have no lasting impact on his educational career. It’s just the kind of form teachers have to fill out to document a pattern of bad behavior if it develops. Ideally, the kid’s parents will have a good conversation with him, and it won’t happen again.
See? Not a problem.
But some Christians who haven’t bothered to look into the matter are now complaining that the child was punished for religious reasons.
Here’s how FOX described the complaints:
"This is so sad what is this world coming to," one Facebook user wrote in response to Coleman's viral post. "They need Jesus at that school. We must continue to pray for our children."
"They would have to show me a policy where ‘Jesus Christ’ is deemed as unacceptable language," another woman wrote.
One wrote: "What has this world come too? This is sad. Simply cause he said the word Jesus Christ?"
While another said: "This is crazy, the baby said Jesus Christ and this was a bad word in her eyes, I’m done, I wouldn’t even want this teacher teaching my kid, that would have been his last day in that class!!!!"
Jesus H. Christ…
It’s not unacceptable to say “Jesus Christ.”
In fact, that’s exactly what the DeSoto County School District said in a public statement:
"DeSoto County students would not be reprimanded for simply saying Jesus Christ," a spokesperson for the district said in a statement, but added, "It is possible that a student could be corrected for a disrespectful use of Jesus Christ's name."
Exactly. The kid wasn’t being punished for what he said. It was about how he said it. The teacher was rightly trying to teach the child an important lesson about how to deal with frustration. You don’t have to yell, or use profanity, or use a negative tone, or start a fight, or blame others, etc.
You can just calmly take care of the problem.
(The Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed that last line in the statement amounted to a blasphemy rule. But clearly, the district wasn’t saying criticism of religion is prohibited. They don’t owe any sort of apology for what they said.)
Coleman, the mother, told a local news station that her frustration was that her kid got written up, period.
Coleman said, "He didn’t get a warning. He got talking to, she called me, and they put a note out there. This type of stuff follows a kid in their record."
In another interview, she added, “Never in my life have I heard at a public school that you cannot say Jesus Christ.” That’s because no school has that policy. She made it up.
As a former teacher, I promise you no one gives a damn what a student got punished for in first grade, especially if it was a harmless, one-off incident. If anything’s going to stay with the student, it’s his mother’s irresponsible decision to post the incident report on Facebook so that everyone can forever associate her son with this moment.
Some of the even more gullible people on Facebook are telling Coleman to speak with an attorney, as if this is the sort of thing that needs to be escalated. I would encourage her to ignore the bad advice, but it seems like she’s a fan of taking a mild situation and blowing it completely out of proportion.
If anything, you would think Christians would agree with the school here. After all, the kid used the Lord’s name in vain. You have to wonder what the response of all these people would be if a child of Muslim or atheists parents got reprimanded for saying “Jesus Christ” in the same situation. Would they agree with the punishment then?
It’s all about the framing.