TESTIMONY OF AMBER JOHNSON-LOEHNER Before House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution

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TESTIMONY OF AMBER JOHNSON-LOEHNER Before House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution Field Hearing in Tampa, Florida June 23, 1995 Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Amber Johnson-Loehner. I am 13 years old. On October 30, 1992, at Lime Street Elementary in Polk County Florida, I went up to my fifth-grade teacher with my backpack full of Gospel tracts about Halloween and coupons to a free harvestfest at a church--which is an alternative to scary costumes and dangerous trick-or-treating. When I showed them to my teacher and asked when would be a good time to pass them out, she called the principal. When the principal got to our classroom, the teacher went outside and gave my literature to him. When the teacher came back inside, she told me that I could not hand them out, but that I could get them after school. I was so upset I cried, but then I quickly wiped away my tears and told myself that I would get them back after school and hand them out at my Girls' Club. Even through the rest of the school day, I was upset because I had really wanted to give them to my classmates. At the end of school, I went to my principal and asked him for my tracts. He told me he had thrown them away and that he would not have religious material on campus. As soon as I heard this, I put my head down and walked to my bus with tears rolling down my face. When I was asked what was wrong, I could only tell them in sobs. When I got home, I told my mother what had happened and she called my principal. After he repeatedly told her that he would not have any religious material on campus, she called Liberty Counsel. Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit for me. When my classmates found out in the paper what had happened, they would say "Don't talk to her, she's suing the principal." Many people from all over the country wrote to me and told me they were proud of me and praying for me. Many of them told me that similar things had happened to them. We won the court case. The judge said the school board policy was unconstitutional and what the principal had done was wrong. It violated my First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. But this wasn't the first time something like this had happened to me. When I was in kindergarten at Stephen Foster School in Gainesville, we had drawing time. I drew Bible pictures. One day I finished my paper and took it to my teacher. She tore it up and told me that I could not draw pictures like that. I couldn't understand why she had torn it up. The reason I hand out Gospel tracts and drew pictures from the Bible is because I am a Christian. I believe what the Bible says to do. Jesus told his disciples to go and tell others the Good News that the Messiah had come to pay the price for our sins. He arose from the dead and He is coming again soon to bring judgment on those who don't believe. I want people to know there is hope in this life and after they die. Thank you for letting me speak today about this very important issue. God bless you. TESTIMONY OF MARLIN JOHNSON-LOEHNER Before House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution Field Hearing in Tampa, Florida June 23, 1995 Gentlemen, what my daughter said is true. Since winning the case, the school board passed another literature distribution policy which hinders free speech. My daughter no longer attends public school. Recently several girls in junior and senior high school in Polk County told me they were forced to turn their Christian t-shirts inside out and not to wear them to school again. When I asked them if they ever handed out Gospel tracts or shared their testimony about Jesus being their Savior and Lord, they said "No it is against the law." They were in essence told they could be a Christian anywhere but school. I, however was told I could not hand out Valentines with Scripture verses having to do with God's love while working at the University of Florida. More recently, I was told that I could not hand out literature on a public street because they said the clinic owned the street. I have it in writing from the police that we would be arrested for trespassing if we handed out literature or spoke pro-life speech while walking down the street. Obviously, I believe in the right to free speech. But more importantly, I believe in the right to life. It is my prayer that we restore the right to life for the unborn and the liberties that the writers of the Constitution clearly enunciated. Daniel Webster said, "If the power of the Gospel is not felt the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end." I grew up in Virginia where the words from Patrick Henry were spoken, "Give me liberty or give me death." He also said, "I wish I could leave you my most cherished possession--my faith in Jesus Christ. For with Him you have everything; without Him you have nothing at all." I believe we are seeing the anarchy and misery in our country because the Bible was taken out of the schools. The Ten Commandments must be taught if they are to be adhered to. James Madison wrote, "We have staked the whole of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." Thank you for allowing me to speak candidly about the religious persecution we have experienced and the hope for restored freedom.


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