Old Bridge, New Jersey - An 8-year-old boy who drew a swastika as part of a holiday assignment at James McDivitt Elementary School did nothing wrong and should not have been reprimanded by school officials, according to members of the International Raelian Movement.
“The swastika is part of the official Raelian symbol,” wrote Raelian Guide Thomas Kaenzig in a letter to Samuel B. Stewart, superintendent of schools in Middlesex County.
“There cannot be a more sacred symbol for us Raelians and this is also the case for the billions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and members of other religions on this planet,” Kaenzig wrote.
The child is reportedly of Hindu heritage and drew a tree and the symbol as part of an assignment in December.
School officials reportedly counseled the unidentified third-grader to let him know that while he had done nothing wrong, the perception of the swastika varies by culture.
Raelians believe life on earth was created by highly advanced scientists from another planet known as Elohim, according to its website.
Kaenzig, who says the Raelian Movement has 70,000 members worldwide, claims school officials forced the child to undergo counseling.
“To reprimand a Hindu child for drawing a swastika is highly offensive to all of us and totally unacceptable,” Kaenzig wrote. “It is not the 8-year-old who needs counseling but the teacher aid who complained about the symbol, the counselor (and) the principal who approved the counseling.
“They need to be informed about the beautiful origin of this symbol that can be found throughout the world, on every continent, since the beginnings of humanity and where it has been a symbol of peace, harmony and good luck for thousands of years,” Kaenzig wrote.
Neither Stewart nor Timothy Brennan, interim superintendent for Old Bridge Schools, could be reached for comment.
Brennan told mycentraljersey.com that the family of the child has received an apology.
“Because we have the First Amendment to our Constitution as a foundation to build on, in this case, a very gracious family and very responsive Board of Education, we feel we can put it behind us,” Brennan told the website.