Judges: No Bible At Pa. Kindergarten Show And Tell

June 1, 2009

Author: Maryclaire Dale

Source: Mercury News


A kindergartner's mother cannot read Scripture during show and tell, even if the Bible is the boy's favorite book, a U.S. appeals court said Monday in the latest challenge over religion in public schools.

The Marple Newtown School District in suburban Philadelphia told plaintiff Donna Kay Busch in October 2004 that she could not read the Bible passages during her son's "All About Me" program. The school did permit the boy to discuss a poster that included references to his church as well as his family, pet and best friend.

"Parents of public school kindergarten students may reasonably expect their children will not become captive audiences to an adult's reading of religious texts," Chief Judge Anthony J. Scirica of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in the split 2-1 opinion, which upheld a lower court decision.

Schools can more tightly control speech presented to younger students, who may not distinguish a parent from their teacher, the ruling said.

Busch argued that the class heard stories related to Passover, Christmas and other religious holidays, but the court concluded there was a "significant difference" between identifying such holidays and reading from Scripture.