Students at a high school near St. Louis, Mo., reportedly arrived on campus Thursday carrying their Bibles as a form of protest after two students claimed a teacher banned them from reading the Bible while they walked down a school hallway.
The incident began when Angela English, mother of 15-year-old Kiela English, took to Facebook to express her dismay after her daughter was reportedly reprimanded by a teacher at Potosi High School for reading her Bible to herself in a school hallway. Kiela had reportedly been walking down the hallway with a friend, the two of them silently reading a Bible passage and then discussing its content with each other, when a teacher stopped them, telling them they could not be "pushing their religion" while at school.
"A teacher called them over and told them that they had to put it away – that this wasn't the place – that they can't be pushing their religion on people. They weren't pushing religion. They were just discussing it privately," English told the Daily Journal Online.
The girl's mother posted her concern on Facebook, and she says her comments gained a viral following, and soon local media outlets were interviewing her about the incident. It was then that English decided to organize a peaceful protest at her daughter's school on Thursday, encouraging students to bring their Bibles to school to express their religious freedom rights. English was clear in telling students they should not preach the Bible, but rather just walk around campus with the Holy Book in hand.
"We've asked the children to bring the Bibles and carry it, not preach and shove religion in their face but to show they have the right to carry the Bible," the mother told the local KMOV-TV. The mother added to the Daily Journal Online that when she dropped her daughter off at school on Thursday, she saw multiple students holding Bibles on campus.
English was contacted by the principal, who told the mother that of course Kiela was allowed to carry her Bible at school, and if she had any other issues she should contact the principal directly.
Potosi R-3 Superintendent Randy Davis also released a statement to the Daily Journal Online, saying district officials and the administration were "disappointed" that the incident was not first addressed to the school, instead of immediately going to Facebook and then a local news network.
"… as always, we cannot investigate, remediate or correct an issue unless we're aware of it," Davis said.
Davis went on to say that he did not personally witness any protest involving Bibles on Thursday morning. "Everything was in place and if there was a protest I'm not aware of it. I didn't observe it. Along with that fact, we have absolutely no problem with our students bringing their Bible."
"We firmly believe in freedom of religion and practicing their religion, their faith. If students wish to bring their Bible, all students wish to bring their Bible, read it and practice their faith, we would have no concern with that at all. Now that we have talked to the student and the parent, we've taken the information and we're going to investigate a little bit further. It may be a story that could have been taken care of quickly with communication."