The town of Smithville, Texas is rallying around an elementary school teacher who received backlash after she posted a video of her first-grade class reciting a Bible verse.
Susan Schobel’s now-deleted Facebook video posted on Nov. 1 showed the children at Brown Primary School quoting from a passage of Scripture in 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 children were recorded saying along as they sat in a circle.
Schobel described it as the “daily Bible verse” for the class.
The majority-Christian community of 4,200 people showed their support with t-shirts that had the hashtag #IStandwithSusan and the Bible verse – Romans 12:9-10 – on them.
One mother whose children were all educated in the Smithville public school system told the local newspaper she’s never seen religion or faith expressed in the classroom curriculum said the community’s faith is felt but not forced.
“In a place like this, where there is almost literally a church on every corner, it’s going to come out somehow,” Hope Mosqueda told the Austin American-Statesman. “Maybe not even trying intentionally to influence anyone.”
In a later post, which is now deleted, Schobel wrote: “If I get fired teaching my children about Jesus then I’m getting fired for a great reason!”
One parent called it unconstitutional and “religious indoctrination,” while another said it was not okay.
“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,” parent Charlie Lucko told Fox 7.
Todd Starnes, the host of “Starnes Country” on Fox Nation, ridiculed the parents for objecting to the teacher’s Bible readings.
“It’s a bit puzzling why parents in Smithville, Texas would object to their children learning to hate evil and do good,” Starnes said on his inaugural show. “We are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles.”
Attorneys and religious liberty experts say the teacher violated a 1963 Supreme Court ruling, Abington School District vs. Schempp, which struck down public school-sponsored Bible readings and prayer as unconstitutional.
Superintendent Cheryl Burns acknowledged the district’s duty to maintain religious neutrality in public schools.
“We encourage and celebrate these freedoms and welcome the diversity of thought, worship, ideas and speech in our community,” Burns wrote. “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.”