Video shows first-graders reciting ‘daily Bible verse’ in public school: ‘It was disturbing to me’ (3 Pics)

A video recently emerged showing first-graders reciting a Bible verse in a public school — and it’s ignited a controversy in a small Texas town that, as one resident put it, has “literally a church on every corner.”

How did this all start?

Susan Schobel, a teacher at Brown Primary School in Smithville, posted a Nov. 1 video to Facebook showing her students reciting verses from the New Testament book of Romans: “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good,” the kids are heard saying, the Statesman reported.
In the video’s caption, Schobel described it as a “daily Bible verse” for her and her students and added a comment saying if she got fired for teaching about Jesus, she’d be “getting fired for a great reason!!” the paper added. Schobel also described herself as a “rule breaker,” KTBC-TV reported.
But some parents didn’t like the Bible verse recitation and took their concerns about separation of church and state to the superintendent, the Statesman said.

What did a pair of parents have to say?

“It was disturbing to me,” Charlie Lucko, a parent of a pre-K student at the school, told KTBC-TV in reference to the Bible verse recitation.
“Putting aside the fact that it’s unconstitutional, every child deserves to be raised up developing their own values or values based on their family’s,” he added to the station, noting that “it would’ve been a totally different reaction” had a different faith been highlighted like that in class.
“I think it shows a level of bias and prejudice which is part of the problem to me,” Lucko also told KTBC. “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, but I don’t believe that belongs in the public school system.”
Smithville resident Hope Mosqueda sees Lucko’s point but understands this issue is a bit different in their rural town, which the paper said has a population of 4,200 and sports about three churches for every 1,000 residents.
“In a place like this, where there is almost literally a church on every corner, it’s going to come out somehow,” Mosqueda told the Statesman. “Maybe not even trying intentionally to influence anyone.”

What happened next?

A rally was quickly organized to show support for Schobel, the paper said, and T-shirts emblazoned with the hashtag #istandwithsusan and the verses from Romans 12:9-10 — the words Schobel and her students recited in the video — were sold around town.
Some residents threatened to boycott the Comfort Café, the Statesman said, which is an eatery run by a drug and alcohol recovery nonprofit associated with parents who complained about the Bible readings.
But the paper said the rally was called off “due to the sensitivity of the situation,” according to a Facebook announcement from the event organizer, and the company tasked with printing the T-shirts supporting Schobel wouldn’t say how many shirts were sold.

What did the school district have to say?

TheBlaze on Wednesday didn’t immediately hear back from Superintendent Cheryl Burns of the Smithville ISD regarding if Schobel has been directed to end the daily Bible verse recitation with her students.
Burns did provide a statement to the Statesman last week about the situation, but what direction the district is headed wasn’t clear. “We encourage and celebrate these freedoms and welcome the diversity of thought, worship, ideas and speech in our community,” the statement said. “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.”
KTBC got a statement from the district as well, but it’s not clear either in terms of resolutions.
“Smithville ISD is aware of recent dialogue on social media and in the news media regarding religion and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” the statement said. “The Smithville ISD and its leadership and faculty are cognizant that the district, as an institution, may not promote religious views, nor be hostile to religious views. The ‘establishment clause’ of the First Amendment requires neutrality toward religion by the government, including public school districts.”
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