SMITHVILLE, Texas — Some parents at a public school in Texas have voiced a complaint after a first grade teacher recently posted a video online showing her students reciting a Bible verse.
The video, recorded at Brown Primary School in Smithville, shows children sitting in a circle and reciting in unison a paraphrase of Romans 12:9-10.
“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. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle,” they said, quoting from the Message Bible.
“Start your day with a good Bible verse and life just seems better!!” teacher Susan Schobel wrote on Facebook in sharing the video, which has now been removed. “This is our daily Bible verse.”
However, when some parents whose children attend the school—but not necessarily Schobel’s class—learned of the video, they expressed objection.
“This is not okay,” parent Ashley Nicole wrote to the Smithville Independent School District, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “I am truly shocked. I am concerned about how this is getting handled.”
Parent Charlie Lucko also wrote to the district, stating that he views the matter as unconstitutional “religious indoctrination.”
“This was a ‘daily Bible verse,’ which leads me to suspect that this has been an ongoing thing,” he stated. “I highly doubt that no one on the faculty was aware of this.”
He further told local television station Fox7, “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.”
However, some who know Schobel have come to her defense.
“I myself had Mrs. Schobel 25 years ago, and I can say first hand that you will be hard pressed to find anyone that cares as much for your children as she does,” Sterling Haney wrote under a Facebook post from The Smithville Times. “In my opinion, she should be an example to other educators, not made an example of.”
“I find it funny that ‘The Odyssey’ can be taught, but the Bible is not allowed. They are both books concerning two religions, but one is frowned upon while the other is put into HS syllabus. Everyone that has a problem with a Bible verse being read daily doesn’t believe the word of God to begin with, so why would one book be more offensive than the other if you believe them both to be fictional?” he asked.
“I support Ms. Schobel and the values she instills in our children. You cannot disagree with what she teaches: to put others first, love from the center of who you are and hold on to good. It’s great teaching, people,” opined Brittany Harper.
“I remember Mrs. Schobel as a teacher. Last I remember, I gave six years of my life to the freedoms of this great nation, not so that we could be told what not to do,” also wrote Adam Summarell, who served in the U.S. military.
The school district says that it has addressed Schobel about the issue, but did not provide specifics.
It also released a statement advising, “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 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.”
As previously reported, while some state that the Constitution prohibits Christianity from being endorsed in public schools, others note that this was not the thinking of a number of the founding fathers.
Dr. Benjamin Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and vice-president of the Bible Society of Philadelphia. In 1806, he said, “The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”
In 1828, just 41 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Noah Webster, known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
Webster’s famous “Blue Back Speller” for students referenced Christianity, including God-centered statements in reading lessons such as “The preacher is to preach the gospel,” “Blasphemy is contemptuous treatment of God,” and “We do not like to see our own sins.”