California: 1st grade girl punished for mentioning Bible verse

With a tip of the biretta to my pal Vicki McKenna (Twitter), I share this tale of woe from FNC.  Todd Starnes reports:

First-grader told to stop talking about Bible

The parents of a 6-year-old girl said their daughter was humiliated when a teacher interrupted the child’s one-minute speech and told her to sit down because she’s “not allowed to talk about the Bible in school,” attorneys for the California family allege.

The incident occurred Dec. 19 inside a first grade classroom at Helen Hunt-Jackson Elementary School in Temecula, Calif. The previous day the teacher instructed boys and girls to find something at home that represented a family Christmas tradition. They were supposed to bring the item to school and share the item in a classroom presentation.

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.


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. “Brynn 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.

Gina Williams learned about the incident after she picked her daughter up from school.

She thought she had done something wrong,” she told me. “She thought she was in trouble. I told her she was not in trouble and I was proud of her. I tried to comfort her on the way home.”


There’s more.  Read it there.

This is how secularist liberals work:

They bully little girls and scar them for life.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Pò sì jiù, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, You must be joking! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    There’s nowt so illiberal as a “liberal”. Bar stewards, the lot of ’em. “Secularists”, too.

  2. APX says:

    Emotional abuse is child abuse too.

  3. Magpie says:

    Such wickedness. You Americans NEED to TAKE BACK YOUR COUNTRY! There is no way that would be tolerated here in Ireland. Certainly not in Northern Ireland, where I live.

  4. It will be interesting to see if there is follow-up and how it sorts out. And in the meantime, I trust Brynn’s parents will make sure she understands that she has been privileged to suffer even a schoolroom-sized humiliation for the Name of Jesus. The God who notices when a chick falls out of a nest has surely seen, and remembered His own words: Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake.

  5. disco says:

    It’s not secularism. I could almost tolerate secularism. It’s blatant bigotry against Christianity.

    Tell me what would happen if the girl had read a verse from the Quran. A whole lot of nothing except an A+ for the day.

  6. Uxixu says:

    The answer should be to put her in a religious school.

  7. Sandy says:

    This horrifies me, even more so because my grandchildren are in schools near there. Are we under more persecution in California? Children should not have to be in religious schools to speak as this little girl was speaking. I agree with you, disco and APX! God help us and show us what to do. We cannot continue this way; the devil is gaining too much power.

  8. benedetta says:

    And nowadays in public school often little tots, indoctrinated presumably at home in front of tv or computer, will repeat some of the most incredibly explicit or vile things to one another, which does cause a distraction to schoolwork as well as other consequences such as low self esteem and victimization in girls, bullying in the case of boys, and yet, that’s all par for the course and healthy in the public school where teachers are somehow trained (against the plain and clear meaning of the law) to pounce at the ready at the mere mention of the Bible or Christianity to “discipline”, strike shock and awe in the hearts of would be imitators, and shame the offenders.

  9. majuscule says:

    I wonder what kinds of “family Christmas traditions” were okay with this teacher and why the word “Christmas” was even mentioned.

  10. Obumbrabit says:

    I sympathize with the girl but I’m sure that this incident will only serve to strengthen her faith and affirm her in her boldness to express her faith in public. The insidious problem is that the 30 other kids in her class went home that day with a lesson in secularism. Even if the teacher is eventually disciplined, it’s hard to take back the lesson that the 30 other kids got that day.

    We blog readers can all put our kids in good religious schools or homeschool, but for every faith-filled kid with a good education there are those 30 other kids graduating from government schools, and it’s not hard to guess how those 30 are going to vote and shape society.

  11. Elizabeth M says:

    They bully little girls and scar them for life.

    OR, as what happened in my life, made me cling to my Faith even more and forced me to educate myself in order to defend Christ.
    It is so important that we become Soldiers through Confirmation.

  12. benedetta says:

    I think all that drama in the public schools will eventually backfire. All people have a desire and a capacity for communion with God, whether they know it or not, and, young people in particular are inevitably going to be very curious about exactly what that is that no one can talk about in school and look into it for themselves. The more the hardcore atheist/secularists try to shut it down, the more the interest in it will develop, it’s already happening. And, the law is not on their side. At a certain point districts get tired of funding lawsuits and having to defend and then settle on dumb public school teacher moves.

    As for the kids in faith-based schools or homeschooled, it will be somewhat like David up against Goliath…

  13. pannw says:

    Like Sauron’s shadow, the persecution grows while most remain blissfully ignorant. Hopefully more are starting to get a clue about what is coming. Which reminds me, where is frjim to tell us there is nothing to see here since this is obviously just so much conservative propaganda. After all, it is reported by Fox News, right?

    @magpie, I wouldn’t be quite so haughty in my judgment if my country had already forced Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, and those hospitals complied. We may be headed that way, but even as awful as what happened in this story is, at least it doesn’t involve the apparent Catholic approved murder of an innocent human being. I don’t think we are the only ones who need to take our country back.

  14. Lori Pieper says:


    Exactly. The whole thing might have been a bit more understandable if it had been set up as a “Generic Winter Holiday Presentation.” But to specifically make it a Christmas presentation and then forbid mentioning Christ . . . that’s just bizarre, not to mention self-contradictory.

    I think teachers and schools all over the country are running scared because of the possibility of an ACLU-inspired lawsuit against them if anyone mentions Jesus, Christianity or the Bible in the classroom. Hence the pre-emptive strike.

    God bless the little girl! Maybe she remain strong in her faith.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Get into strong Catholic communities, home school your children, form your children into saints, prepare them for persecution, get your heads out of the sand as worse is yet to come. The evil tolerant liberals have been bullying the weakest members first, such as the unborn and children in schools. They will not stop there. This is satanic hatred of Christ.

  16. Johnno says:

    Folks, this pattern that you see forming of teachers scolding children is not accidental nor the discharge of one particularly teacher. It’s INTENTIONAL POLICY.

    It’s called ‘Shaming.’ You take one person in front of an auditorium of people and disgrace them as an example publicly, humiliating the subject and discouraging anyone else from acting up, conditioning them like dogs to obey your dictates. A typical communist punishment & propaganda tactic.

  17. Priam1184 says:

    This is how secularist liberals work:
    They bully little girls and scar them for life.

    They have been doing this stuff for decades now. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone and especially not to the parents of this little girl. We have had ample evidence of who is running the schools for several years now and people should be preparing their kids for this stuff, not wasting time and energy being outraged by it. Wake up parents. Annoying, and difficult for the little girl (though with proper preparation a potentially excellent learning experience), but it is hardly news.

  18. Kathleen10 says:

    Teachers have caved in to political pressures. If they are Christians, they are by and large not willing to go to the mat for it, and many seem to have abandoned it entirely. There are some heroes of course, but how many of these paranoid atheists are in our classrooms, toting the water for the Christianity haters. They are enablers and their complicity is pathetic. How quickly we salute the flag of the powerful!
    That being said, I do wonder about parents who send their six year old into school with John 3:16, something a child of this age would not likely be able to come up with. No matter what point I may wish to make, I wouldn’t allow my six year old to make that point for me. Of course I don’t know the particulars here but someone seems to have, well, set this child up perhaps. I could be wrong. Hope I am. The result is the same. She won’t forget.
    We get victories where we can. Here’s a tiny one. I visited a kindergarten today and saw a five year old in an overcrowded, somewhat out of control classroom who was currently in trouble. She was sitting on the desk in defiance of the fatigued substitute. I offered to walk her to the office to end the desk stalemate. There was no one at the office who could talk with her, so I walked her back to the classroom. I heard her say to the other little girls who were with me, just as they approached the door “My baby brother died and went to heaven. He’s going to cry when he sees I was bad.” Her expression was mournful. I asked the other children to wait nearby (they complied by running around in circles) and I told the sad baby that her brother in heaven could only be happy, that in heaven no one is ever sad, ever, and that he is playing and smiling all the time. I gave her my solemn promise this was true. Her sweet little face turned from serious consternation to peace in front of my eyes. A small victory but a happy one.

  19. UncleBlobb says:

    “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Mt. 18: 5-6

  20. Stephen McMullen says:

    Clear evidence of the Liberal’s WAR ON GOD.

  21. Clinton says:

    Last time I checked, we were still a western civilization, and therefore a culture with its
    roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. For a teacher to treat the Bible as though it was
    kryptonite is to deny students knowledge of their own heritage. How will these kids ever
    truly appreciate the speeches of, say, Martin Luther King Jr. or Abraham Lincoln without
    some knowledge of the Bible? “East of Eden”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”– if one doesn’t
    know these expressions in their context in the Bible, then their meaning in the hands of
    Steinbeck and Hemingway is lost. It’s an act of vandalism to insist that students remain in
    ignorance of the most influential book in western civilization.

    I suppose there are fools that will insist that teaching the least bit of the Bible is to push
    christianity on students– but those people never seem to fear that teaching Ovid in school
    is going to make kids start worshipping Jupiter, now do they?

  22. pelerin says:

    ‘Tell us about a Christmas tradition without mentioning Christ’ – does the teacher not realise what a ridiculous statement this is? As a commenter says further up – it is bizarre. I suppose the next thing will be children asked to talk about Easter but they must not mention the Resurrection of Christ, only the ‘Easter bunny’ and chocolate eggs.

  23. MarylandBill says:

    Uxixu, It would be nice if all kids could be in religious schools. Unfortunately the costs of religious education have gotten to the point where they are out of reach for many. We are planning on trying to homeschool are children, but if we had to send them to school, I am not sure we could swing it. As much as we might not like it, for some, public schools are the only option.

  24. The Masked Chicken says:

    If the android, Data, had been a little boy, things might have gone much differently:

    Data: Here is the Star of Bethlehem. My family uses it to remember the birth of Jesus.

    Teacher: Stop right there! Go take your seat.

    Data: Where should I take it to?

    Teacher: Sit down.

    Data: Why?

    Teacher: You are not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses.

    Data: I hardly think that that is within your prerogative as my teacher to decide such matters. This seems a pretty arbitrary decision.

    Teacher: I said sit down or I will send you to the principal.

    Data: As a matter of fact, since you have acted in an atypical and illogical manner – who talks about Christmas without mentioning Christ – it’s in the name of the Day, for Pete’s sake (a reference to St. Peter, by the way) – I suggest that, while I visit the principal about the principle, you might want to see the school psychologist. You might have had a stoke, for you seem to be suffering from recognition aphasia. Do you celebrate National Gift Giving Season at your home? Christmas is, historically, derived from the Anglicized version of Christ’s Mass. You asked us to find something that represents a family tradition and explain it. Since you can or cannot say what is my family tradition, I must conclude that you either believe you have extraordinary powers of family intervention or you have failed to understand your own curriculum or what the phrase, “my family,” means. This may be a case of suppressed speech or censorship. Are you, perhaps, trying to re-enact the Penal Laws of Seventeenth-century England for us. If so – eh, good one.

    In any case, the recitation of Bible verses is protected speech, so, absent making a case of sedition, I have to say that your outburst is more disruptive to the classroom than my recitation. I cannot recognize your authority in this fashion and, should you continue, I will have my family organize a protest and petition to have you relieved for dereliction of duty. If I were human, I would be astonished at your brazen attempt at social engineering. As it is, I will lock you in this closet until the authorities can be notified.

    Now, as I was saying, my family celebrates…

    [Now, things didn’t happen this way, but one can dream].

    The Chicken

  25. Uxixu says:

    @MarylandBill, you might be surprised. Most, if not all, of the diocesan schools will waive at least some of the tuition and even registration costs if there are real financial difficulties as the only obstacles.

    In my case, I’ll continue driving a 25 year old beater car to send my mine though I would much prefer something new, of course. Unfortunately my parish school is a bit too pricey but there’s another Catholic school in a somewhat worse area that my wife went to as a child that is literally half the cost (and still a great school!), which is also an option. Driving to a farther school is time and gas, of course, but if you haven’t it’s definitely worth exploring. The biggest impact is all the fundraising that’s still required on top of it. I don’t begrudge it, but would prefer to do that at my own parish. A conundrum I happily embrace given the alternative of my children not only being allowed to mention God but in a specifically Catholic cultural environment amd going to regular Mass and learning prayers on top of those we teach as parents. And it does get me around to the wider communities, along with the TLM I frequently visit in addition to my obligatory.

    Now when said diocesan school still uses Common Core is a separate issue. It still doesn’t absolve any of us of parental responsibility and oversight, of course, it’s a just a better overall environment.

  26. Kerry says:

    At FNC we read the principle believed is he must “protect other children who might be offended”. Only in a public school in CA would they believe children would be offended by the truth. (And yes, I misspelled Principal intentionally.)

  27. Kerry says:

    Chicken, perhaps this, also from Data is apt: “It was raining in the city by the bay, a hard rain, hard enough to bring the slime out…”

  28. Del says:

    You are ‘pals’ with Vicki McKenna? That’s scary…. in a good kind of way.

    Meanwhile…. Every kid in Brynn’s class was terrorized and abused by this teacher’s treatment of Brynn. Why is this happening in America?

    When I was a kid, I was told that a children in Soviet Russia could be punished for mentioned Christ or the Bible at school.

  29. Ben Kenobi says:

    I am surprised the parents let their precious daughter return. I would have had a little talk with the principal and seen if I couldn’t transfer my child to another teacher. There’s no reason for Christians to have to put up with bullies, whether they teach or are in administration. We have an obligation to stand up for our brothers and sisters in the faith. Shame on this teacher who has dishonored her calling, and that of every other teacher out there.

  30. pmullane says:

    Any person who thinks that this is an appropriate way to deal with any situation involving a little girl is utterly unhinged and has no business being a teacher.

    Of course, as anyone who has anything to do with state education can tell you, you dont have to go far in a school these days to find someone who has no business being a teacher. In any just society, this teacher and the headmaster should be suspended immediately, the teacher should be fired if the facts of the story are remotely accurate. Hell mend any ‘teacher’ that tried this nonsense with my child. If the parents of the other children in the class dont demand that their children are moved to a different class with immediate effect then they are neglectful in their duties as parents, and when this unhinged person humiliates their child for saying/doing something that offends her exquisitely refined liberal sensibilities then they have noone to blame but the mug in the mirror.

  31. Aspie says:

    John 3:16 is a verse used by Protestants for teach salvation by faith alone. I’m glad the girl was not able to say this verse out of biblical context to the entire class. I don’t like it when Catholics are taught heresy—even if the person has good intentions.

  32. AnAmericanMother says:

    The kids are going to have to learn to deal with the Protestants. They’ll hear it everywhere.
    Even as an Episcopalian I was looked at askance by all the Southern Baptists and Evangelicals, as the Lady in Waiting to the Scarlet Woman. So I hung out with the Catholics (all 4 of them), the 2 Greek Orthodox girls and the Melkite Catholic girl. Which may well be why I am where I am today.
    When I was very young, my parents very gently and kindly explained to me that some folks had different beliefs from ours, and that I should not make fun of them or be afraid of them but listen to see what they had to say, and they would explain anything I didn’t understand.
    Worked fine for me, worked for my kids as well. The teacher should stay out of it, unless some kid is promoting animal sacrifice or witchcraft . . . but we haven’t encountered that . . . yet.

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