An elementary school teacher in one Texas town faced backlash after she posted a video to her Facebook page of her students reciting a Scripture passage.
The first-grade students at Brown Primary School in Smithville were reciting Romans 12:9-10, which reads, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
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According to the Austin American-Statesman, teacher Susan Schobel first posted the video on Nov. 1, later adding, “If I get fired teaching my children about Jesus, then I’m getting fired for a great reason!”
One parent called the Bible recitation unconstitutional and “religious indoctrination,” while another argued it’s just not OK for kids in a public school setting to repeat Scripture verses.
Another parent, Charlie Lucko, told KTBC-TV that, while he has no problem with religion, he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for children to be reciting Scripture in the classroom.
“I don’t have anything against religion. I actually love Jesus. I love his teachings, his practices, and it’s been a big impact in my life,” he told the news outlet, “but I don’t believe that belongs in the public school system.”
Now, in response to the backlash Schobel has faced, her community is rallying around her.
Many people in the community of 4,200 people, most of whom who identify as Christians, had T-shirts printed with the hashtag #IStandWithSusan emblazoned on them. The shirts also referenced Romans 12:9-10, the passage the teacher taught her students.
One resident, Hope Mosqueda, said she understands why a daily Bible reading could bother some parents, particularly those who aren’t believers.
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Nevertheless, she said, “In a place like this, where there is almost literally a church on every corner, it’s going to come out somehow. Maybe not even trying intentionally to influence anyone.”
Those who took issue with Schobel’s actions argued the Bible verse recitation violated the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 ruling on Abington School District vs. Schempp, which defined the school-sponsored reading of Bible verses as unconstitutional.
Cheryl Burns, superintendent of the local school district, said it’s important for the schools in her jurisdiction to remain religiously neutral.
“We encourage and celebrate these freedoms and welcome the diversity of thought, worship, ideas and speech in our community,” she said in a statement. “We support the right of students to express themselves. We support our employees’ free speech and free exercise rights as well, while being mindful of their on-duty responsibilities.”