His palms sweat. He glances at his classmates who surround him, each of them hunched over their desks, reading a book with varying degrees of involvement. His left hand reaches down to brush the top of his navy blue backpack, reassuring himself that it hasn’t moved since he touched it 20 seconds ago. The boy’s heart races as he ponders the same, well-worn questions in his mind.
“What if I get caught??”
“Is it worth the risk?”
“Why not just wait until after school? Or when I get home…?”
But he doesn’t want to wait. Not for another second—let alone the hours until he is home and in his room. He has noticed an appetite growing within himself over the past year. He thought nothing of it at first, hardly even noticed. But over the past few months it had been growing in strength and urgency. It was an itch that he simply has to scratch.
His eyes dart around the room as his fingers furtively reach to his backpack and slip into the main compartment to begin their clandestine mission. His hand sweeps the backpack in search of a specific item. When they find the object of their search, the boy slowly draws it out of his backpack and slips it behind his 6th grade literature book. He eagerly turns the pages, his eyes soaking in the forbidden material.
“WHAT are you reading,” asks the loud voice coming down the aisle behind him. The boy’s face flushes immediately while he tries to stuff the literature book and its contents into his backpack. His teacher arrives at his desk just in time to catch his wrist before it disappears into his bag. She pulls his hand and its contents up to the desk where he drops the literature book. It flops open to reveal the contraband. The boy slowly crosses his arms while the teacher stares at the black book with gold-edged pages, resting on the boy’s desk.
“Is that a religious book again?” asks the infuriated teacher. The boy nods his head once.
“I have told you that you are not allowed to read that book during our free-reading period! Give me that book and come up to the front of the classroom so we can call your parents.”
† † †
Crazy, right? Clearly this is preposterous, right-wing propaganda. Or is it?
Last Christmas, 12-year old Giovanni Rubeo received a Bible as a gift from his church. He began taking it to his Ft. Lauderdale elementary school classroom, to read during the designated “free reading” period. One day, his teacher told him that he was not allowed to read the Bible in her classroom. When Giovanni continued to bring his Bible to read during the free reading period, she dragged him to the front of the classroom and left an angry voicemail for his father in front of the rest of the class.
In public schools today, the Bible has taken the place of Mad magazine. When children are caught reading the book which spawned Western civilization, they’re treated as if they got caught with a Playboy magazine. Ironically, a Playboy would be tame compared to some of the reading assignments being given to our middle- and high-school students.
Can there be a clearer sign that our public schools have become a lions’ den beyond the hope of redemption? When depravity is mandatory and righteousness is contraband, all moral calibration has been deliberately demolished. Why would we continue to send our vulnerable minds to be filled with poison and depravity? If a swamp has fetid water, do we allow our children to drink the water? Of course we don’t, because the components of the swamp have degraded to the point of danger; yet far too many parents in America allow their children to guzzle the rancid waters of the anti-Christian public school system for 35+ hours each week.
There is truth in the argument that not all public school teachers are bad. This is true and I pray for the integrity of those few teachers, that they might be courageous enough to act when given the opportunity. But that changes nothing. I can guarantee that if I drink a gallon of fetid water from a swamp that not every swallow will contain something hazardous to my health. But the harmlessness of the clean water will never outweigh the hazard of the rest of the gallon. It’s the system which has degraded—no good will come from it, only varying degrees of decay.
It is admirable that Giovanni’s father coached him to defy the unconstitutional commands of his teacher and that he has since brought a lawsuit against the school district over the policy itself. It would be better for him to remove his son, of whom the Ft. Lauderdale school system was not worthy, and plant him somewhere his thirst for biblical knowledge will be rewarded and cultivated. “I love reading my Bible,” said Giovanni, “…any time that I’m allowed to read it.”