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Todd Starnes is still a fraud

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Todd Starnes has once again been caught pushing a supposed example of Christian persecution that, upon further review, turned out to be a big fat lie.

In a a January 15th column for Townhall.com, Starnes complains that six-year old Brynn Williams was told that she was not allowed to deliver a presentation on her family's Christmas tradition because she brought the star that her family places atop its Christmas tree, which represents the Star of Bethlehem.

Brynn Williams decided to bring the Star of Bethlehem that adorned the top of her family’s Christmas tree. She also worked on a one minute presentation to explain that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.

"Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree," the little girl said. "The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world."

Before the child could utter another word, the teacher intervened, according to Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom – the law firm representing the Williams family.

"Brynn's teacher said, 'Stop right there! Go take your seat,'" Tyler said. "Bryn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16."

Tyler said the little girl was the only student in the class not allowed to finish her 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," Tyler said.

Once again, Starnes' story is one great big lie.

Just like every other time Starnes attacked a school for a supposed act of persecution of Christianity, the school has released a statement by the teacher, Tammy Williams, correcting the matter:

On Thursday, December 19th my class was getting our classroom ready for our holiday party that was to occur the next morning. We took longer than normal putting things away to ensure that the desks were clean and book boxes were put away so that tables could be used for our centers. This was normally something we did on Fridays. Because of this, we were running behind and I still had six students who needed to do their sharing. I had a very limited amount of time and needed to make sure all students had time to share. Now remember, this is sharing. They were not oral reports. Students were asked to share a family tradition. It could be anything, not just a Christmas tradition. During sharing, I work with students on looking at the audience and using clear voices. We also work on listening skills and asking questions.

This student was not the last student to present as had been reported. I still had a couple of students after her (which was the Student of the Day and the Student of the Week). When she started her share, she pulled out her golden star that I held for her as she pulled out her prepared speech written by one of her parents. This was unusual because rarely does a student have a prepared statement to read. As I held the star, the student began to read her statement. I helped her with a few words that she was having trouble with. I decided that I would have the student stop after sharing about Mary and Joseph. I felt that it would take too long and I still needed her to take her question and I had a few clarifying questions for her as well. At this point, I simply said the following, "Ok, stop here and you get one question." She simply put her paper down and picked a student who asked her a question. I also asked her, "Who puts the star on the tree? Do you take turns?" I even suggested that her dad could lift her up to let her put it on the tree. After that, she put her star away and sat with the class while we finished with the other students. I monitor all students this way. She at no time complained or acted sad. She was as happy as always.

I want to be very clear about the following.

At no time did I ever tell the student that she could not read the bottom section because it was a Bible verse nor did she ask if she could finish. I never told her to "Stop right there!" or "Go take your seat!" or reprimand her in front of the class for sharing from the Bible. It just did not happen. This subject matter was never discussed. I decided to stop her at that point so the other students would get their share in before the bell rang. My students have always been free to share their ideas.

What saddens me is that this story was twisted into lies and brought to the media. I have never sat down and discussed this directly with the family or the student. I am instead being used to push an agenda for the Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

This is not the first time Todd Starnes has been caught lying, not even about Christianity in the classroom. In December, Starnes also reported that one school had confiscated Christmas cards and that another school had banned Christmas trees and the colors red and green from a winter party, both of which were also outright lies.

This has happened far too many times for it to possibly be chalked up to astronomical levels of stupidity. Starnes is engaging in deliberate fraud, as is everyone who dares to pretend anything even remotely truthful might ever come out of him any time in the future.

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