This past December, first grader Brynn Williams’ presentation of her family’s Star of Bethlehem was shut down because she’s “not allowed to talk about the Bible in school.”
Brynn’s incident at Temecula Valley Unified School District comes on the heels of a candy cane case involving West Covina Unified School District first grader Isaiah Martinez who was told, “Jesus is not allowed in school.” You can read the full story of that case here.
On Wednesday, December 18, 2013, Brynn Williams brought home a “share” bag as part of a school assignment. Brynn’s teacher had given every child in her class a canvas bag with verbal instructions to find something at home that represents a family Christmas tradition, put it in the bag, bring it to school, and be prepared to share the family tradition.
Brynn took the Star of Bethlehem from the top of the family Christmas tree to represent her family’s tradition of remembering why Christmas is celebrated. Brynn worked diligently on a one minute presentation in order to explain to the class that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus at Christmas time.
On the day of presentations, Brynn began:
“Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree. The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The 3 kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world. John…”
At that moment, Brynn’s teacher interrupted her and said, “Stop right there! Go take your seat!” Brynn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16. In fact, Brynn was the only student not allowed to finish her one-minute presentation. After Brynn took her seat, the teacher explained to Brynn in front of all the other students that she was not allowed to talk about the Bible or share its verses.
We sent a demand letter to the Temecula Valley Unified School District demanding that a new policy be adopted to prohibit school officials from expressing disapproval or hostility toward religion or toward religious viewpoints expressed by students. The letter also demands that TVUSD provide a written apology and allow Brynn the opportunity to complete her speech during class.
Attorney Nic Cocis serves as co-counsel in this case. Mr. Cocis experienced religious persecution as an elementary school student in communist Romania before his family immigrated to the United States. “The censorship of Christianity was something I came to expect in Romanian schools, not here in the United States,” said Mr. Cocis. “I don’t want my kids to experience what I experienced as a Christian in Romania.”
We’ve already received news coverage for this case, and here are a few of the links:
Please pray with us as we interact with TVUSD on Brynn’s behalf. We don’t want any other children to experience the hostility that Brynn has faced in school because of their faith!