Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is fighting for a third-grade girl’s right to wear a “Jesus Loves Me” face mask to public school.
Tyson Langhofer, ADF senior counsel, told the Todd Starnes Radio Show Thursday the school district engaged in “viewpoint discrimination” by singling out Lydia Booth in October while allowing other students to wear “Black Lives Matter” masks.
Lydia’s parents told ADF: “We are proud of our daughter. She wanted to express her faith. We felt like we had to stand up for her when she was told she couldn’t express her faith like she was somehow a second-class citizen simply because she wanted to express a religious message and others a secular message.”
The youngster was saddened on Oct. 13, when her principal at Simpson Central School pulled her aside and said she could no longer wear her “Jesus Loves Me” mask, which she’d worn several times.
Her mom, Jennifer Booth, was told the mask violated school policy because it had words on it, but Booth noticed it wasn’t in the policy. The superintendent then told her it violated their policy banning masks with political, religious, or inappropriate symbols.
The school allegedly changed its policy to justify the move and refused to accommodate Lydia, according to ADF.
“We were forced to file a lawsuit in order to just allow this third-grader to just express this positive message to the students around her that Jesus loves me,” Langhofer said.
ADF filed a federal lawsuit against the Simpson County School District.
“Appearently they believe religious messages in class or in schools are inappropriate, but they allowed other masks with all kinds of other messages on it,” the ADF lawyer told Starnes. “If you allow others to express messages on their masks, you have to allow people to express religious messages.”
The nationally syndicated radio host said the “shocking” part of the story was that it happened in a rural community in Mississippi.
“This is a great reminder, Tyson, that these attacks on freedom and liberty are happening all over the country, not just in Berkeley or New York City,” Starnes said.
Longhofer said the cases have increased over the past year, noting officials have used COVID-19 orders “disproportionately” against religious Americans.
“It’s throughout the country and its consistent with an ideology that wants to force people of faith out of the public square and it fails to recognize that the First Amendment protects everyone’s freedoms, not just those that you disagree with.”
The Booth family is standing strong, Langhofer said.