Should the Bible be allowed to be brought or read at school by students?
CINCINNATI (Derek Drake) -- Over the past two weeks two separate stories from different states accuse teachers of taking away and yelling at students for bringing a Bible to school and reading it.
The first story takes us to Houston, Texas where parents of a second grade student accuse their child's teacher of banning their child from reading the Bible during independent reading time called "read to myself time."
CBS affiliate KHOU-TV spoke to the Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group, who is representing the family who wished to remain anonymous.
"Hamilton Elementary School's own library contains copies of the Bible and books about Bible stories," Liberty Institute Senior Counsel, Michael Berry said in a phone conversation with KHOU-TV. "If it's appropriate for their own library I don't see why on earth it would be inappropriate for students."
In a letter written to the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, the Liberty Institute claims the teacher's alleged censorship and actions violated the U.S. Constitution as well as federal and state laws.
"The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits public schools from treating religious activities and materials less favorably than non-religious materials, as long as such materials do not create a substantial disruption to discipline or the academic environment," the letter reads in part. "If students at Hamilton Elementary are permitted to read non-religious materials of their choice, then the Bible must also be permitted."
One parent, interviewed by KHOU echoed that sentiment saying, "They are letting them read the Hunger Games, that's kids killing kids, why cant she read the Bible?"
The district claims to have first heard of the incident through media reports, but released a statement to KHOU in which they said that during a student's independent reading time, kids are required to read a book that is "just right," meaning kids can read most of the words, comprehend the text, and that it's appropriate for the genre that is being taught.
The Cy-Fair ISD is reportedly still investigating when and if the alleged incident happened and says if it did, they will look into whether the Bible met the district's "just right" criteria.
The second incident regarding the Bible in school comes to us from Potosi, Missouri where a high school student claims her teacher yelled at her for simply carrying a Bible at school.
Kiela English told KMOV-TV she was reprimanded by one of her teachers at Potosi High School for speaking to a classmate about religion and for having the Bible at school.
Kiela's mother, Angela English, said she is shocked and outraged over the incident. "Her friend had her Bible out and both of them were reading a passage in their heads and were talking back-and-forth about the reading," English told the Daily Journal Online. A teacher called them over and told them that they had to put it away -- that this wasnt the place -- that they cant be pushing their religion on people... They werent pushing religion! They were just discussing it privately."
The school's principal reportedly reached out to English, informing her they were looking into the situation.
"The principal told me that he wanted Kiela to go over the story," Angela said. "He said he would speak to the teacher and that nobody could tell my daughter she couldn't carry her Bible. He said if she had any other problems or anyone giving her any kind of grief about carrying her Bible then to go personally to him and he would handle it."
The district's superintendent Randy Davis told KMOV students are allowed to bring their Bibles to school. "We are a faith-based community," Davis said. "The school district encourages students to actively practice their faith."
The school district also said they would be addressing the situation with the teacher involved.
We want to know what you think about these stories. Do you feel students have the right to carry a Bible with them in school or read it to themselves (or others, if not interrupting the school day)? Are these students' (and others) Constitutional rights being infringed upon? Or do you think no religious texts should be allowed to be brought to school? Let us know what you think on our Facebook page now!
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