Problem Solving is Better Than Persecution Poses

Hemant highlights a story out of a child in Missouri who was allegedly yelled at by a teacher for carrying a Bible. Her mother immediately took to Facebook to launch a protest and then ran to the local TV station rather than calling the school to file a complaint and resolve the situation. The school released this statement:

“The district officials and administration are disappointed that this complaint, this accusation, was not brought to our attention. In fact, we knew nothing of this issue until we started hearing rumors on Facebook. And then late last night Channel 4 came and did a story on it. In visiting with the high school administration, nothing had been brought to their attention. Nothing had been addressed to myself. So, as always, we cannot investigate, remediate or correct an issue unless we’re aware of it.

“We encourage parents and students, if they have a concern, to please bring it to the attention of the appropriate person so we can investigate it. As far as this morning, the supposed Bible protest, I was at the building and things seemed to be very normal and routine. Everything was in place and if there was a protest I’m not aware of it. Along with that fact, we have absolutely no problem with our students bringing their Bible.

“We firmly believe in freedom of religion and students practicing their religion, their faith. If all students wish to bring their Bible, read it and practice their faith, we would have no concern with that at all. Now that we have talked to the student and the parent, we’ve taken the information and we’re going to investigate a little bit further. It may be a story that could have been taken care of quickly with communication.

There are lots and lots of these situations around the country, some involving religious students and some of the involving non-religious students. They are almost always the result of ignorance on the part of a teacher or school administrator and the vast majority of them are resolved quickly and privately. Groups like the ACLU or the FFRF send out lots of letters to schools and that usually fixes the problem. Once in a while it requires going further and filing a lawsuit. But this mother’s first response was not to try to get the situation fixed, it was to turn herself into a martyr, which isn’t actually helping her child.

If the teacher in this situation did they are accused of, they should be reprimanded for it. It was a clear violation of the child’s rights and the law. But clearly the administration was ready to do what was right if they’d been informed about it. Solving the problem is always better than exploiting it.

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  • Chiroptera

    Has it been confirmed that the incident even happened as described?

    It has been my experience (admittedly kind of limited) that in most cases where the first response is to contact the media and make a public scene, the protester is reacting to an accurated, garbled-in-the-retelling version an incident.

  • colnago80

    The mother in question quite obviously had no interest in resolving the problem. Her only interest was in making a public brouhaha to embarrass the school administration. This mother is just your typical born again asshole.

  • eric

    @1 – it is somewhat ironic that The Crucible is taught in the same High Schools in which, when teens start making accusations of adult wrong-doing, the first thing the adults around them do is believe the teen without skepticism. Yes, teen complaints should be taken seriously and trigger an investigation. But y’know, just because your kid cries ‘witch’ doesn’t mean you should assume witches.

  • Chiroptera

    “accurated”? What the hell kind of word is that? It was supposed to be “inaccurate.”

  • One wonders if the kid didn’t have the Bible open during, say, Math class and the teacher said “put that away and open your math book.” Or the kid wasevangelizingharassing a fellow student about religion. Or the teacher was an idiot and needs to be reprimanded.

  • Mike Morris

    Purely hypothetical:

    Teacher: I see you can manage to carry a bible around, but you can’t seem to remember to bring your math book to class.

    Student: Waaaaaaaa

  • gshelley

    They are almost always the result of ignorance on the part of a teacher or school administrator and the vast majority of them are resolved quickly and privately.

    The ones that actually happened at least. I’m not sure what percentage of these things are real, and which are either a misunderstanding by the student, anger at being treated like everyone else, or as seems to be common, more or less totally made up

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    Don’t sweat it, Chiroptera. ‘Accurated’ is a perfectly cromulent word.

  • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    To be fair, who could possibly have predicted that a K-12 school administration would take effective action to address a student’s justified complaint of being mistreated?

  • rationalinks

    I’m not willing to pass judgement on this yet, we haven’t heard the teacher’s side of this. That being said, as someone who has worked in high schools, a lot of kids are privileged little shits who will go crying to mom and dad (and exaggerate) when they don’t get their way or are told to do something by a teacher a they don’t want to. That may not be the case here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out the student exaggerated the claim to mommy, who then lost her head and the whole thing got blown out of proportion.

    If I’m wrong, then I fully support this teacher being reprimanded in some way.

  • John Horstman

    Yeah, my first response is suspicion that the incident is being misrepresented. “Carrying a bible” is very different from “proselytizing to other students during class time”, for example.

  • innkeeper


    A lot of these comments mirror what MRAs and rape-culture enablers espouse. I am agreeing with most of them here in this context, but we should be aware of the double edged sword of skepticism.

  • Until proven otherwise, I’m voting for “made-up bullshit”. I see no reason to assume it was even a misunderstanding.

  • grumpyoldfart

    …a child in Missouri who was allegedly yelled at by a teacher for carrying a Bible…

    That’s how fundies educate themselves – they tuck the bible under their arm and the knowledge seeps in through the skin.

  • Stacy

    A lot of these comments mirror what MRAs and rape-culture enablers espouse.

    It’s a matter of Bayesian priors.

    We have lots of evidence that rape is common and that false accusations of rape are uncommon but highly overestimated in some quarters.

    On the other hand, it’s common for American Christians to cry persecution where no persecution exists.

    And how likely is it that a schoolchild in Missouri would be yelled at simply for carrying a Bible?

    Of course, it’s possible that things happened as the mother alleges. It strikes me as an out-of-the ordinary claim, though.

  • Kevin Kehres

    A child carrying a bible in Missouri would certainly be unusual, that’s for sure. Why, I’m not sure there are even bibles anywhere in Missouri.


  • John Horstman

    @innkeeper #12: Stacy beat me to it @15.

  • magistramarla

    When I was teaching in Texas students and teachers openly carried bibles around and after-school bible studies were held in the classrooms of some of the teachers.

    Once, one of the Spanish teachers commented upon the lovely leather-bound book that I was carrying and asked if it was my bible. I rolled my eyes and answered that since I was the Latin teacher, it happened to be my personal copy of The Aeneid.

  • eric

    @16 – you say that with snark, but IMO if these kids just wanted to read the bible in their spare time, they could download it free to their phone or tablets. So carrying one for reading purposes should be unusual, for exactly the same reason carrying paperback novels is getting less usual.

    I think at this point we can safely assume that almost everyone below the age of 30 who is lugging around a pound of dead tree with “The Bible” printed on it is doing it at least partially for show, for outward appearances.

  • freehand

    Eric – who would want to read anything on a phone? Also, the bible isn’t a novel, it’s more like a reference book. The student might have been too poor for a tablet or smart phone. And as a book lover and former captive* of a Southern Baptist family, I expect that most US country Christians in Missouri would see a book form as the only respectable vehicle for their collected myths.** So I definitely believe that there are kids in that school who carry actual bibles. I’d still bet house odds that this story has grown in the telling.


    * Changeling – it’s the only explanation that I have.

    **I’ve been in a number of houses with less than ten books, one being the bible. I had a friend with a bible (KJV of course), a dictionary from Middle School which he had on hand when he quit, and a book on guitar music from that time he bought a guitar and thought he might learn to play it, Three books in the house, with a wife and daughter. Nice guy, but he wasn’t a scholar.

  • freehand

    eric – please do not misconstrue my comment above to indicate that I thought you were wrong about a bible being for show. Their Christianity is all about show.

  • Artor

    Eric, it seems you have an inflated idea of the prevalence of certain types of tech. I’m in my 40’s and I don’t have any sort of e-reader, and I’m not planning on getting one. If I want to read a book, I do it with dead trees. Trying to read something on my phone doesn’t even have momentary appeal to me. As for Bibles, many of the people who are into that think of e-readers as having something to do with the Mark of the Beast.

  • lorn

    When you worship the image of a guy on a cross, and doctrinally are obligated to try to be like that guy, the first reflex will tend to be to try to depict yourself as a martyr and find a cross to ride into the hereafter. Actual virtue and sacrifice in the face of real world persecution are not required.

  • eric


    Eric, it seems you have an inflated idea of the prevalence of certain types of tech. I’m in my 40′s and I don’t have any sort of e-reader, and I’m not planning on getting one. If I want to read a book, I do it with dead trees.

    Well, if you look at my post you’ll notice I said “anyone under the age of 30.” Precisely because I recognize that there is a generational change in the use of technology. From what little I know, 15-year-olds practically live by reading facebook updates etc. on phones and tablet computers. If they choose to read something in dead-tree form, chances are it’s not just about reading utility.

    I’m not trying to start an e-reader vs. traditional book war here. I’m not saying one is better than the other. I’m saying there is a generational difference in what media people use to do their reading, with the younger generation using a lot more electronic and less print media. So when they choose to use print media for their Bible (and only their bible), it’s at least partly because they want the world to see what they are reading.

  • @24:

    I’m leaning towards Artor;s take on this because I think a lot of those “back-in-the-holler JESUS tolt to me” evangelifundies wouldn’t let their kids have things which could connect directly to the “Tree of Knowledge” and all its SATANIC delights.

    “accurated”? What the hell kind of word is that? It was supposed to be “inaccurate.”

    It doesn’t even have to be cromulent; “accurated” is the state of being accurate AND impactfullish.

  • vmanis1

    `Accurated’ is a perfectly truthy word.

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