Taking Offense vs. Taking A Stand
by Kevin and Lynn Krestan, Parents and ADF clients
Erin Krestan attends Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona, and is a member of Common Cause, a Christian club that meets on campus. Earlier this year, Erin asked to add an announcement to Mountain Ridge’s morning bulletins (which other student clubs use to advertise their activities), inviting anyone interested to join Common Cause at the flagpole before school to pray for their peers and teachers.
School officials told her she’d have to remove the word “prayer” from the announcement. Erin asked why, and was told that using that word over the school p.a. system was “unconstitutional” and “offensive.”Erin asked for the printed copy of her announcement back; instead, the vice principal tore it up and threw it away.
Erin tried meeting with school officials, but when they remained adamant, the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit against Mountain Ridge on behalf of Erin and her parents, Kevin and Lynn Krestan, for denying Common Cause equal access to the same public school facilities made available to other groups, including political clubs and organizations promoting homosexual behavior.
A federal judge later issued a preliminary injunction in Erin’s favor, ordering the school to allow her club’s announcement while the lawsuit against the discriminatory policy goes forward.
Suing the school district was not the first thing on our minds. Our first thought was, “Let’s have a dialogue, find out what the issues are, see if we can come to some agreement.” But the school went into immediate denial: “We did nothing wrong! Your daughter’s the one who caused all the trouble!” And we realized, “Maybe there’s another angle we need to pursue.”
"Maybe the pendulum has swung so far that we've forgotten that there is absolute Truth..."
A lot of our friends’ kids are not in public school, and they’re so surprised this is even an issue, to simply have the word “prayer” in an announcement. Some of those friends have misunderstood, thinking that the students wanted to pray over the p.a. system, and that was never the issue. The issue is just about using the word “prayer” to tell what was going to be going on at the activity.
We wish we had been more involved in the school previously – more proactive. But then, we all need to be more involved in what’s happening in our society. We need to stand up, not just to “fight for our rights,” but to know what those rights are. If we don’t, our rights are going to be lost.
In this case, we felt that Erin’s freedom of speech was being squelched. ADF brought that issue to the surface, and we appreciate the expertise they’ve provided.
Of course, as Christian parents, we have been offended by many things that have happened in the public-school setting. But we don’t usually say, “Oh, call the principal! I’m going to tell her that offends me!” That’s not the way we do things.
"Of course, as Christian parents, we've been offended by many things that have happened in the public school setting."
We don’t want to be offensive – we want to love people. But we also want the right thing to be done. And what’s been brought up in this suit is the right thing.
Maybe the pendulum has swung so far that Christians have forgotten that there is absolute Truth, and that Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We can’t backpedal on that one. We have to stand firm.
As parents, we knew Erin had a situation at school that did not seem right. Other families facing similar situations should not hesitate to engage the services of the Alliance Defense Fund. For if we just sit back and don’t challenge the secular agendas being forced on our children in the schools, we will lose the freedoms we take for granted.
We don’t have to let something like this happen. We have rights, and we have the ability to defend them. Why shouldn’t we?