School allegedly bars boy from passing out candy w/ religious message


Saiah Martinez came to his class at Merced Elementary School in West Covina, ready to pass out candy canes to all of his fellow classmates. He was inspired by the Christian legend of the candy cane. He attached a note to each one, describing the candy cane as the symbol for the birth, ministry and death of Jesus Christ.

His parents say before he could pass any out, his teacher took them away, conferred with the principal and removed the notes.

"He didn't pass out any because she said Jesus wasn't allowed in the school," said the boy's father, Alex Martinez.

The family says the teacher allowed him to pass out the candy canes in class without the attached messages about Jesus.

"As a mom, I was upset. I felt like they bullied him there," said the boy's mom, Myrna Martinez.

A group called Advocates for Faith and Freedom is working with the family. They issued the school a letter, asking for an apology and a change in policy or else they could face a lawsuit.

"It's about pushing the pendulum back in the direction of real tolerance, of accepting the fact that Christian kids have a right," said Robert Tyler, general counsel of the Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

The school district says it is investigating the allegations in the letter, but "at the present time, we do not have any reason to believe that the teacher or any other district employee had any intention other than to maintain an appropriate degree or religious neutrality in the classroom and to communicate this to the child in an age-appropriate manner."

The Martinez family says Isaiah was later allowed by the school to hand out the candy canes with the Jesus messages attached, but only off-campus and after school. They say that's not good enough.

"It's his God given right to do this, by law and by his faith," said Alex Martinez.

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