Federal appeals court backs PA School District in Bible ban case

    A U.S. court says a kindergartner’s mother cannot read Scripture during a show and tell about the student, even if the Bible is the boy’s favorite book. Monday’s ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for the Marple Newtown School District in suburban Philadelphia.

    A U.S. court says a kindergartner’s mother cannot read Scripture during a show and tell about the student, even if the Bible is the boy’s favorite book. Monday’s ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is a victory for the Marple Newtown School District in suburban Philadelphia.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090602spbible.mp3]

    The plan to let parents read to a kindergarten class from their child’s favorite book went awry when one mother wanted to read passages from the bible. The principal balked, and was backed up by district officials. So the mother, Donna Kay Busch, sued.

    The court says the school’s decision did not violate First Amendment rights given the nonpublic nature of the classroom and the tender age of the children. Cathy Lanctot is a law professor at Villanova University.

    Lanctot: I think some of the difficult aspects of the case were it was in a kindergarten setting. And when you have very young children, they might perceive an adult reading excerpts from the bible as the school.

    The mother argued the students heard stories related to Passover, Christmas and other religious holidays. The appeals court says there is a “significant difference” between teaching about holidays and reading from Scripture.

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