Parents of the Dove World Outreach Center recently sent their children to local public schools with their own messages of faith: t-shirts that read “ISLAM IS OF THE DEVIL.” They then protested after school officials sent their children home and are threatening possible legal action. Parent Wayne Sapp insists the problem is runaway tolerance. The rise of the Sapps and others lacks either a constitutional or moral basis for objection to the school policy.
On the front of the t-shirt, there is a verse from the Gospel of John: “Jesus answered I am the way and the truth and the life; no one goes to the Father except through me — followed by the statement “I stand in trust with Dove Outreach Center.”
When the children arrived at local schools, they refused to take off their t-shirts and were sent home.
The parents in this case have little legal basis for a challenge. While I am a strong advocate of the first amendment, school officials have a right to keep out messages of hate and intolerance. These t-shirts do not profess love for Christianity but hatred for Islam. These people have as little legal basis as parental judgment.
Notably, Dove Senior Pastor Terry Jones had the t-shirt printed up over the Internet because no local company “had the guts” to print the shirts. It is funny how few people want to participate in hateful acts.
The Dove World Outreach Center defines itself as:
“We are a New Testament, Charismatic, Non-Denominational Church that believes in the whole Bible and that we are to act in response to the word of God in order to change the times we are living in. Those times have gotten further and futher [sic] away from God; full of deception like abortion and same sex marriages.”
The Church defends its “Islam is of the Devil” campaign and responds to criticism on its website :
Why would the Church put up such a sign?
To expose Islam for what it is. It is a violent and oppressive religion that is trying to mascarade itself as a religion of peace, seeking to deceive our society.
What is the reason or message the Church wants to get out with a sign such as that?
The message of the truth that there is only one way to God, only one way to salvation, and that is through the blood of Jesus. Through the repenting of your sins and being born again. It is time that all Christians unite, stop being passive and selfish and stand up and fight for the truth.
What is your response to those offended by the sign or the message of the sign?
The truth should never offend us. We should embrace the truth. That is the foundation of our country and that is the only way to true freedom. Islam is a lie based upon lies and deceptions and fear. In Muslim countries, if you preach the gospel or convert to Christianity – you will be killed. That is the type of religion it is.
Wayne Sapp’s daughter, Emily Sapp, 15, was one of the children who refused to take off the shirt and was sent home.
Parent Wayne Sapp objected to the “subjectivity” of the school policy that allows principals and school administrators to determine what is offensive or distracting clothing. We certainly have seen abuses of such discretion (here and here) but this would not be such a case. Sapp sent his child into school with a manifestly hateful and prejudicial statement. He may want to rise a religious fanatic in his own image or that of his pastor, but he will have to do that at home or through a religious school. There are plenty of models for such education in countries ranging from Iran to Pakistan to Sudan.
Sapp insists that he wants to teach his kids to “stand up for what they believe instead of saying the rules might not let me do it” and said that society has grown “so tolerant of being tolerant.” I get it now. The problem is too much tolerance. It is not like those Taliban educators who know how to instill good old-fashioned religion in public education.
Jones insists that spreading the church’s message was “even more important than education itself.” Hmmm, a religious movement composed of uneducated religious fanatics. Sounds strangely familiar.
Some parents have said that they are debating whether to allow their children to go to school if denied the right to wear the t-shirts.
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