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Student Forced to Take Part in Pagan Ritual During Class: 'Direct Conflict With Our Biblical Faith'

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Parents of an Ohio elementary school student say their son's First Amendment rights were violated after he was forced to make an idol and participate in a pagan ritual in his class.

Benjamin and Amie Mutti are the parents of a fifth-grade elementary student who attends Lexington Local Schools in Ohio. Earlier this year, they found out that their son was instructed to participate in a religious ritual during school hours, Frontlines Ohio reports.

"On the week of February 13th, 2023, our eleven-year-old son was instructed by his fifth-grade teacher during Social Studies class to make a kachina doll," Amie Mutti told the Lexington School Board. "This is no ordinary doll. These dolls were used by Native Americans as sacred idols."

A handout given to the student explains that the dolls are a likeness of Hopi spirits and "were used to teach children about different spirits."

"In other words, the children were told by the teacher to make a kachina doll, give their doll a name, and to write about what special powers their doll had," Mutti said. "To go further, the lesson plan states, 'These dolls were used in ceremonies to teach children about the beliefs of the tribe and the gods.' Clearly, they are not toys."

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"Parents were never notified beforehand about this in-class project," Mutti went on to say to the board. "Students were never given the opportunity to opt out of the project. In our faith tradition, the Scriptures say not to make any graven image or likeness of anything in heaven above or earth below. Not only are we not to make idols, our faith tradition says we are not to bring idols into our homes. After the students completed their project, they were told by the teacher to take their dolls home."

The Muttis are of the Messianic Jewish faith and say the assignment violated their son's religious beliefs.

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"The Mutti family is very active in our congregation," Rabbi William Hallbrook shared. "Our faith community adheres to a Hebrew phrase, 'Ein keloheinu,' that states, 'there is no god like our GOD.' So you can see when innocent children are coerced to create dolls made in the likeness of spirits, this is in direct conflict with our Biblical faith tradition. This pagan ritual is an attack on our faith and has no place in public schools."

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) sent a letter to the school board on behalf of the parents explaining that the lesson plan was a "clear constitutional violation".

"It is well settled that religious speech is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, even when that speech is taking place on the public school campus," wrote John Monaghan, Senior Litigation Counsel for the ACLJ. "Thus, where students are coerced, however, into verbally affirming the truth of something that violates the student's religious convictions, a First Amendment claim may be successful."

According to minutes from the school board meeting, the school board president Mr. Robert Whitney told the parents he would pass their concerns to the board and Superintendent. According to Frontlines Ohio, neither the school board nor the superintendent has responded to the parents or the ACLJ.

CBN News has reached out to both the superintendent of the Lexington Local School and the school board president. At the time of publication, neither the superintendent nor school board president had responded. 

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.