Amber Mangum, a seventh-grader from Greenbelt, Maryland, was “threatened with discipline” at her school. What was her offense? Reading her Bible at lunch.
Of course if that’s all there was to it, then there shouldn’t be a problem. She has every right in the world to read the Bible on her own time.
Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, had a response for this, saying:
“What probably happened is this kid, I’ll bet you, was being disruptive. I bet this kid was proselytizing, was preaching, doing something that was annoying other kids and was told to stop. Kids don’t normally want to read the Bible at lunch time-I don’t care who they are. It’s just not something kids want to do,”
Well, I do agree if they’re punishing this girl, she couldn’t have been just reading… If she was, there’s no case. But the rest of that quotation has to be out of context, right? I mean, even I know there are some kids who really do want to read the Bible. I’m not saying I understand it, but still.
So I asked Ellen if this was a misquote. She said it wasn’t. *sigh*
There are so many better ways to handle this. My suggestion:
“If this girl was really just reading her Bible, then she has every right to do so and we support her right to exercise her freedom of religion, even though we disagree with her.”
If you wanted to, you might even add that you wished she was reading something educational.
But don’t assume that the girl was overstepping her bounds without hearing any evidence to suggest this.
[tags]Greenbelt, Maryland, Amber Mangum, Bible, Christianity, atheism, American Atheists, Ellen Johnson, ACLU, [/tags]