Thursday, March 6, 2008

Is Silent Bible-Reading OK During School Free Time?

This is an excerpt from the Washington Post, October 3, 2006

Bible-Reading Student Gets Lesson in Litigation

By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 3, 2006; Page B04

Amber Mangum was a frequent reader during lunch breaks at her Prince George's County middle school, silently soaking up the adventures of Harry Potter and other tales in the spare minutes before afternoon classes. The habit was never viewed as a problem -- not, a lawsuit alleges, until the book she was reading was the Bible.

A vice principal at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School in Laurel last month ordered Amber, then 12, to stop reading the Bible or face punishment, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by Amber's mother. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, alleges that the vice principal's actions violated the girl's civil rights.

"Amber's a new Christian, and she's trying to learn all she can," said Maryann Mangum, the girl's mother. "She reads her Bible and she goes to Sunday school. . . . It really upset me when she was not allowed to read it on her own time."


This is another example of over-reaction to previous court findings, and perhaps stems from a desire to not be sued. Looking at the First Amendment's wording:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

how does one get to the point where someone at a public school may not read a Bible during free time? In the case above it was an educated person who stepped in to interfere with reading the Bible. Such a person really should know better. Once I got interested in the mis-use of the First Amendment, it took very little time and effort to find out what the real intent was.

1 comment:

CrypticLife said...

Of course, there are cases that go the other way also -- where teachers are actively proselytizing as in the recent Odessa case and the Kearny case (Paskiewicz, I believe).

Having a kid in school, I've come to realize the ignorance of the law is not restricted to first amendment issues. Teachers, and administrators, and superintendents, are WOEFULLY ignorant of the law affecting their daily jobs. I've seen teachers blithely violate student academic confidentiality, and superintendents approve pulling hundreds of students out of school with virtually no notice. Teachers will argue for forced medication over parents' wishes, for suspension of kindergarteners for parental choice in hairstyle, and for their right to ban the words "What the..." because of the presumed banned word that would follow.

Educators rarely truly view totalitarianism as a bad thing. I cringed when I saw a first-grade teacher's attempt to teach the Bill of Rights by making a "Classroom Bill of Rights".