May 12, 2005

You Can't Read That Here!

Interesting little piece over at the Guardian, a woman is suing a PA School District that barred her from reading from the Bible in her 6-year old son's class.
Wesley's teacher had invited Busch to her classroom at Culbertson Elementary School on Oct. 18 as part of “Me Week,” in which the class would learn more about a featured student, according to the complaint. One of the activities involves the student's parent reading aloud from a favorite book in class. Busch said her son's favorite book is the Bible.

But before the teacher would let Busch continue, she said she would have to get permission from Principal Thomas Cook. After a meeting in the hall, Cook informed Busch she couldn't read the Bible in class, the lawsuit said. “He was agitated and upset about it, and felt I should know that, according to him, it was against the law,” Busch said.

Busch's complaint alleges the Bible-reading ban is part of a pattern of discrimination against Christians. Students were allowed to read a book about Judaism, learn about the dreidel game, and make Hanukkah decorations - but were prohibited from making Christmas decorations, the lawsuit claimed.
Yes, I encountered this in my High School too --- anything related to Christmas was taboo (“Winter Break” for example --- even if it was during Christmas,) but Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever was fine.
A similar incident in Medford, N.J., spawned litigation in which the courts sided with a public school teacher who banned a first-grader from reading in class a story from “The Beginner's Bible” in 1996.

In that case, a federal judge and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the teacher was within her rights to restrict access to what the school calls a “captive audience” of 6- and 7-year-olds.

Ted Hoppe, a lawyer representing Busch, said a key difference is that Wesley's school allegedly seems to look more favorably upon Judaism than Christianity.

“We want to get an understanding with the school and the school district that Culbertson will be an environment that's not hostile to Christian beliefs and practices,” Hoppe said.

I’m not really sure what the big deal is if someone reads a few pages from the Bible on “Me Week” --- I can believe it really was the kids favorite book, and more then likely it was a “kids bible” that actually just a paraphrased story. But even if it’s not, there should be a standard --- if Judaism is allowed to be discussed (and I think it should be as well) then surely Christianity shouldn’t be banned.

If they ban both, then fine or perhaps if they limit the Bible reading to “historical” accounts (as apposed to Paul’s Theology) I might understand that. Either way there should be a common standard.


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