The New Jersey Department of Education has suspended the teaching certificates of a Christian teacher because criticized a school's efforts in promoting the homosexual lifestyle on Facebook.
Jeyne Viki Knox, who had served as the faculty adviser to the Bible club at Union High School, has reached an agreement with the education department to have her certificates for elementary school, nursery school and handicapped teaching suspended for a period of three years.
The Department of Education sought to suspend Knox after she took to Facebook in 2011 to denounce a high school display that celebrated LGBT history month. She reportedly referred to homosexuality in some of her Facebook posts as a "perverted spirit" that also "breeds like cancer."
"God cannot abide, tolerate, accept, go along with sin. That's why Jesus came and gave his life as an offering for our souls; so we could once again be right-standing. Everything God has created, Satan has perverted, everything! Sin is sin. Wrong is wrong," the teacher reportedly said in response to criticisms from other Facebook users.
According to Christian News Network, administrators decided to place Knox under investigation after an attorney asked the district to terminate the teacher for her "hateful" comments.
Knox had decided to retire under disability pension after she was suspended without pay. In 2013, she filed a lawsuit against the Union Township Board of Education, claiming that her religious freedom rights and free speech were violated by the school district's actions.
"These Facebook posts that she made were done on her time, at her home, after school hours, on her home computer, and it was addressing a matter that could arguably be of big societal concerns," Demetrios Stratis, an attorney representing Knox, told NJ.com
The lawsuit was settled in September, but very few details about the settlement were released to the public due to a confidentiality agreement.
The Department of Education, however, still sought to revoke Knox's three teaching certificates, which she has held since 1990. Knox appealed to the Office of Administrative Law and later presented a proposal in which she would agree to a three-year suspension of her certificates.
On Dec. 8, the New Jersey Board of Examiners officially approved the agreement between Knox and the Department of Education.
While LGBT activists have called on the school district to take action against Knox, representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have defended the Christian teacher's right to free speech.
"Although we do not agree with the sentiments expressed on Ms. Knox's personal Facebook page, her comments are protected by the First Amendment," Ed Barocas, the legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey, said back in 2011.
"The ACLU believes that the response to offensive speech is not the restriction of speech, but more speech," he added.