Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Not again! Teacher to first grader: You’re not allowed to talk about the Bible in school

This was breaking news while we were on the air this morning with James Long of the Advocates for Faith and Freedom.  While we were discussing a similar case involving a Christmas message on candy canes, referred to below, Mr. Long alerted our listeners to this story from Temecula, California:

First grader Brynn Williams presentation of her family’s Star of Bethlehem was shut down because she’s “not allowed to talk about the Bible in school."

Brynn’s incident at Temecula Valley Unified School District comes on the heels of a candy cane case involving West Covina Unified School District first grader Isaiah Martinez who was told, "Jesus is not allowed in school.” See our earlier post here.

On Wednesday, December
18, 2013, Brynn Williams brought home a “share” bag as part of
Brynn holding family star
a school assignment.  Brynn’s teacher had given every child in her class a canvas bag with verbal instructions to find something at home that represents a family Christmas tradition, put it in the bag, bring it to school, and be prepared to share the family tradition.

Brynn took the Star of Bethlehem from the top of the family Christmas tree to represent her family’s tradition of remembering why Christmas celebrated.  Brynn worked diligently on a one minute presentation in order to explain to the class that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.

Brynn began her presentation:

“Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree.  The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The 3 kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world. John …”

At that point the teacher interrupted Brynn and said, “Stop right there! Go take your seat!” Brynn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16.  Brynn, bullied by the teacher, was the only student not allowed to finish her one-minute presentation. After Brynn took her seat, the teacher explained to Brynn in front of all the other students that she was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses.

Robert Tyler, General Counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom, and also a guest on Faith on Trial, said: “The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation's public schools has become epidemic. I hope that [school district] will take the lead role in adopting a model policy to prohibit this abuse that has become all too common place for religious-minded students.”

Advocates for Faith & Freedom sent a demand letter to the Temecula Valley Unified School District demanding that a new policy be adopted to prohibit school officials from expressing disapproval or hostility toward religion or toward religious viewpoints expressed by students. The letter also demands that the district provide a written apology and allow Brynn the opportunity to complete her speech during class.

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts. 

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