Tuesday, October 03, 2006

WaPo: Litigation over Bible Reading

The Prince George's County school administration hasn't responded to this suit yet, but if the facts are as the plaintiff argues, this young girl's rights have definetely been violated. From 'Bible-Reading Student Gets Lesson in Litigation':
..Mangum said her daughter was reading her Bible on Sept. 14 when Vice Principal Jeanetta Rainey approached. According to Mangum and the lawsuit, Rainey told Amber that reading the Bible violated school policy and that she would face discipline if she continued to do so...
The same article references this statment:
John White, a spokesman for the school system, said administrators learned of the lawsuit Friday and were not prepared to comment on its claims. "We're just beginning to look into it," he said.
A simple statement noting that students are free to read any religous material on their personal time would have been warranted along with the 'we're looking into it' response.

An individual reading a Bible on her own personal time is not the same thing as the school sponsored Bible reading addressed in Abington vs. Schempp. In fact, the Supreme Court has already established (GOOD NEWS CLUB et al. v. MILFORD CENTRAL SCHOOL) that public schools are not Bible-free zones.

Let's hope this is just a misunderstanding and not the over zealousness of a school administrator.

Update: This issue was a topic on Special Report with Brit Humes Political Grapevine which makes reference to the school's policy:
Bible Ban?

And a seventh grader in Laurel, Maryland who was threatened with discipline for reading her bible during her lunch break is taking the dispute to a higher power — Federal District Court.

The Washington Post reports a lawsuit on behalf of Amber Mangum alleges her civil rights were violated when Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School Assistant Principal Jeanetta Rainey told her that reading the bible violated school policy.

It turns out school policy says students may "read their bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray before tests."


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