A New Jersey school board voted Monday night to suspend a longtime substitute teacher after he shared a Bible verse with a student, and later gave that student a Bible. The middle school student had asked for one.
The Phillipsburg School District Board accused Walter Tutka of breaking two district policies: handing out religious literature on campus; and not being neutral when talking about religious material.
“The school district violated the First Amendment by dismissing him,” said Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer, adding that the school district’s policies are “hostile to religion.”
Tutka serves in The Gideons International, a ministry that provides Bibles to people throughout the world.
In September, as Tutka was standing by the door as students entered the building, one student came in late. Tutka told the student: “The first shall be last, but the last shall be first.” A few days later the student asked him about the quote. Tutka told him it was from the Bible.
In mid-October, Tutka was eating lunch in the cafeteria. The student asked him again about the verse. Tutka had his Bible with him. He took it out and showed the verse to the student. The student said he didn’t have a Bible. Tutka gave him his.
Tutka is considering his legal options, Mateer said.
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