Florida School Bans Bible During Free Reading Time


Bight a Pop Tart so that it looks like a gun and you’ll be expelled. Read a Bible during free reading time, and it will be treated like Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Officials at Broward County Public Schools went along with a teacher who told fifth grader Giovanni Rubeo that he could not read his Bible during free reading time. Swornia Thomas, who teaches 5th grade at Park Lakes Elementary School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, is Giovanni’s teacher. “On April 8, Thomas told Giovanni he’s not allowed to read the Bible in her class and ordered him to put it away.” Giovanni had the good sense to refer the incident to his father and requested that the teacher call him. Thomas left the following message on the Rubeo family’s voicemail:

“I noticed that he [Giovanni] has a book—a religious book—in the classroom. He’s not permitted to read those books in my classroom.”

Who knows what other ignorant things this teacher is teaching these children. Obviously it’s not anything about the First Amendment or the religious history of America. I wonder what books have been removed from the library because of their religious content. The assault on the First Amendment is coming from everywhere. Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wants to revise it and so does Democrat Senator Charles Schumer. How is it possible that the president of the United States can take the oath of office with his hand on a Bible — something presidents have done since George Washington — but public school children can’t read the book that created Western Civilization as Vishal Mangawaldi points out in his book The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization? American history can’t be taught without acknowledging the Bible since it was fundamental to the founding of this nation. How is it possible to tell the story of the Pilgrims and Puritans without mentioning the Bible? The colonists and seamen who set sail from England and settled in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607 carried the Geneva Bible with them. It was fundamental to their worldview as it was for those at Massachusetts Bay. “The Embarkation of the Pilgrims” painting that hangs in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, depicts the Pilgrims on the deck of the ship Speedwell on July 22, 1620, before they departed from Delfs Haven, Holland, for North America, where they sought religious freedom.

“The words ‘God with us’ appear on the sail in the upper left corner. The figures at the center of the composition are William Brewster, holding the Bible; Governor Carver, kneeling with head bowed and hat in hand; and pastor John Robinson, with extended arms, looking Heavenward.”

Embarkation of the Pilgrims, United States Capitol

If students in Ms. Thomas’ class ever went on a field trip to the Capitol, would she demand that the painting be covered so her students wouldn’t see the Bible? And, God forbid, that one of her students decides to do a report on the founding of America and uses the painting as an example of our nation’s religious heritage. How do schools teach early American education without reference to the Bible? Consider The New England Primer that “was the first reading primer designed for the American Colonies.”

“Many of its selections were drawn from the King James Bible and others were original. The 90-page work contained religious maxims, woodcuts, alphabetical assistants, acronyms, catechism answers, and moral lessons. It was made with a thin sheet of horn or paper shellacked to a wooden board. The board was transfixed with a handle.

“The primer remained in print well into the 19th century and was even used until the 20th century. A reported 2 million copies were sold in the 18th century. No copies of editions before 1727 are known to survive; earlier editions are known only from publishers’ and booksellers advertisements.”

Teachers like Thomas, and the schools that support teachers like her, show a great deal of ignorance of the Constitution and their own nation’s history. “Banning religious books like the Bible violates Giovanni’s civil rights to religious free speech and free exercise,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Director of Litigation. “The school’s actions exemplify the hostility to religion that the U.S. Supreme Court has condemned.” George Orwell noted, “For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. And in the end, much more suddenly than anyone had foreseen, our efforts were rewarded, and down we came. But unfortunately there had been a little mistake. The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all, it was a cesspool full of barbed wire.”1

  1. George Orwell, “Notes on the Way” (1940). []
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