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Bible reading in school: Texas teacher took Bible away from second grade student

Student had Bible taken away during reading time.
Student had Bible taken away during reading time.Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

A battle over whether a Bible is appropriate reading material for a second grade student is happening in Texas. A young girl said that one of the teachers from Hamilton Elementary School took away the Bible that she was reading during an independent ‘read to myself’ time. According to KHOU on Tuesday, this incident that happened two weeks ago had the teacher telling the student that she could not read, or even bring the Bible to school, for her reading time.

The girl’s family reached out to the Liberty Institute, which specializes in religious liberty cases, as a way to address the concerns to Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, asking if their daughter was able to read her Bible in school or not. The institute released a statement saying that they expect this matter to be resolved quickly and that the matter should be addressed with district employees so that this won’t happen again. According to them, it is okay for the child to have brought out the reading material that she chose during that time.

The ISD officials are looking into what really happened and after being able to confirm what took place, they will then figure out if reading the Bible by students meets their reading criteria. The district put out a statement explaining what this means.

"During a student's independent reading time, students are required to read a book that is 'Just Right,'" the district said. “A 'Just Right' book is when the student can read most of the words, comprehend the text and that the book is appropriate for the type of text or genre that is being taught. As such religious material, including the Bible, that meets these guidelines would be permissible for a classroom assignment and/or independent reading."

What is considered ‘just right’ may not be the same in the eyes of both parents and officials. Michael Berry, senior counsel at Liberty Institute, pointed out that the school’s library even carries copies of the Bible.

“So if it’s appropriate for their own library, why on Earth would it not be appropriate for their own students,” Berry said.

Parents seem to be a bit divided on this issue. One parent told the media that they are letting the kids read “The Hunger Games,” so they should be able to read the Bible. According to Click 2 Houston, another parent said that their second grade child has done the same thing and has brought his Bible to school with no issues that they know of. However, on the other side of the coin, another parent thought that there should be a definite separation and that the teacher did the right thing in taking the Bible away from the student.

Unfortunately, the parents of the young girl are in fear of retaliation so they are not willing to go public. There are certain to be many opposing opinions on whether this action by the teacher was appropriate or not, but the decision now lies in the hands of school officials who will decide if the student will be able to read her Bible at school in the future.