I remember well John Nixon calling me and telling me that his son was being removed for the day from the Sheridan Middle School because he wore his “INTOLERANT” t-shirt to class. James bought the shirt while he and his parents were out in the streets preaching the Gospel of Christ with us during our National Event in Columbus, Ohio. This young seventh grader stood up for Jesus and, through all of the intimidation of the court structure, Jesus stood up for him. We are so thankful that God has given us an attorney like Rick Nelson of the American Liberties Institute in Orlando, Florida, who will stand with those who stand for Christ. We are thankful for parents who will allow their children to stand for Christ at an early age. We are thankful to God that He has given us the opportunity to speak for His children, His Son, and His Truth.
You will be especially blessed reading an e-mail from a former Muslim who read this article in the newspaper and was so proud of young James Nixon's stand for Christ. James, may your tribe increase. Thank you mom and dad, you are raising him well! ~ Flip
Student wins T-shirt verdict
Federal judge declares school violated free speech
Friday, August 19, 2005
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
A Perry County teen can wear a T-shirt that school officials deemed offensive as long as it does not disrupt classes, a federal judge ruled yesterday.
James Nixon was sent home in September from Sheridan Middle School , where he was a seventh-grader, because school officials thought his shirt was offensive. They had asked him to take off the shirt or turn it inside out, but he refused.
The black T-shirt, which James got from Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, reads: "INTOLERANT: Jesus said . . . I am the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6." The back : "Homosexuality is a sin, Islam is a lie, abortion is murder. Some issues are just black and white!"
Judge George C. Smith, in a ruling in U.S. District Court in Columbus , said Northern Local School District could not prove the shirt would be disruptive. He noted that before a guidance counselor asked James to remove the shirt, no students or staff members had commented on it.
Smith said the court had to weigh James' freedom of expression against the interest of the school district to carry out the education of students.
He ruled that other students' disagreement with the shirt's message does not outweigh freedom of expression.
The judge also noted that the shirt was not clearly offensive, that the district had allowed other controversial shirts and that it did not promote disruptive behavior.
James' parents, Cynthia and John Nixon, have said they are a religious family and their son was expressing that, as is his right. They could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Northern Superintendent Jack Porter said he had not heard about the ruling. He said he had no comment on the judge's decision.
Porter said it was too early to tell whether the district will make any changes to its dress code.
The judge awarded the Nixons $1, as requested in the lawsuit. Rick Nelson, president of the Florida-based American Liberties Institute, which filed the suit, said the point of the dollar was to show that the court agreed with the Nixons.
"We could've asked for money damages," he said. "The Nixons weren't interested in money. They're interested in getting their viewpoints expressed."
Ahmad Al-Akaras, president of the Ohio office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he supports the First Amendment and students' right to express themselves.
But he said the shirt only points to James' ignorance about Islam. Al-Akaras encouraged the boy to educate himself about what he said is a teaching of peace and tolerance.
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Hello. The following article [Student wins T-shirt verdict] in my local newspaper prompted me to visit your website. THANK YOU for what you do.
As a former Muslim, I would like to comment on the last paragraph of this article: Alakras and other like him don't seem to realize (or maybe accept) that many of us have indeed taken the time and made the effort to educate ourselves about Islam.
Growing up in a fairly nominal Muslim home, I confused the fantasy that my familial forefathers and foremothers had woven about the religion of their birth with the reality of its true nature. Not their fault. It's the way with many Muslims, especially those whose ancestors were forced to convert to Islam via occupation and conquest (I.E.: India). How does one know anything about their religion when their "education" is limited to reading transliterations of Arabic (a language they know not) and reliance upon folklore and story telling passed down from generation to generation.
I am so proud of the young man this article cites. His tenacity at such a young age is a testament to the freedom and courage that are the foundation of our culture's fabric, based on our Christian heritage. There is immeasurable liberty for ones soul when one knows that he or she is the child of a loving God rather than the slave of a cruel and punitive imaginary authority.
Be Still, and Know...