A 10-year-old student at a public school in Memphis, Tenn. was prohibited from writing about God in an in-class writing assignment.
The incident occurred earlier this week at Lucy Elementary School, reports local CBS affiliate WREG. The girl, identified only as Erin, wanted to write about God for an assignment. For the assignment, the teacher had asked students to choose an idol.
“It was so cute and innocent. She talked about how God created the earth and how she’s doing the best she can,” the girl’s mother, Erica Shead, told the station.
However, Erin’s teacher quickly nixed the girl’s reverence of The Almighty. According to Shead, the teacher told Erin that “it has something to do with God” and, in any case, Erin would not be allowed to idolize God for the assignment in the classroom that day.
“How can you tell this baby, that’s a Christian, what she can say and what she can’t say?” complained Shead.
The concerned mother promptly protested to the school principal, asking to see the policy which prevented students from writing positively about their religious beliefs.
“I told the principal this morning: would it be better if she wrote about Ellen Degeneres?” Shead told a WREG reporter. “Of course there was no comment.”
School district spokesman Christian Ross said that teachers can’t promote a particular religion but also stressed that students are free to write as they like about their own religion.
A later, clarified response from the Shelby County School District called the incident “a regrettable misunderstanding.”
“The principal and teacher have had a positive and productive conversation with the family, and we are pleased this matter is being addressed at the school level,” the later statement also said. “The district will not be discussing this matter further in the media.”
It’s not clear what, if anything ultimately happened with the assignment. According to Shead, her daughter’s teacher had required her to start the project all over again from scratch, choosing another idol.
She chose dead pop star Michael Jackson, a world-historical figure whom the teacher accepted as an idol.
The Second Commandment prohibits the worshiping of idols.