Man the Prayer Sirens and rev up the VictimMobile — another Christian is being oppressed at the hands of an out-of-control secularist teacher! Maybe.
The brouhaha in Dyer County, Tennessee, all started when something happened in high school senior Kendra Turner’s class, and she posted about it on her Facebook (no, this does not mean that internet trolls are allowed to bother Kendra Turner, OK?):
We’re going to go out on a limb and assume that, despite Kendra’s repetition of the phrase in both the Facebook post and the TV interview, the teacher did not actually say “We do not use Godly speaking.” Just guessing there.
Blogger Hemant Mehta gleaned this longer account from a post by a relative of Kendra’s:
A girl sitting right next me sneezed in class. I said “Bless You!” My teacher, Mrs. Kindle, asked “Who said that?” I said “me.” She said “Why did you say that?” I said “Because it is courtesy.” She said “Says who?” I said “Says my pastor.” She said “Well we don’t say that in my class.”
I asked her why it was a big deal to her. She yelled at me and said “We will not have Godly speaking in my class!” That is when I stood up and said “My pastor said I have a constitutional right — 1st amendment freedom of speech.” She said “Not in my class you don’t.”
I said “I will defend my religion.” She said “You will not in my class because I trump everyone.” Then another student stepped in and said “You don’t over trump God.” So she sent me to the office and the assistants principal said “if I didn’t want to respect my teachers rules then maybe My pastor should teach me because my freedom or speech and religion does not work at their school.
Then they sent me to ISS (in school suspension). After I left the class room all my class mates stood up and defended me the teacher had to call assistants principal to control the class.
Once again, only this time with “quotes” and an exclamation point! The dialogue all sounds 100 percent accurate to us, assuming that Mrs. Kindle and everyone else in the room escaped from the pages of a Chick Tract. Mr. Mehta, ever the skeptic, called Dyer County High School Principal Peggy Dodds to ask her if this was an accurate account, and Dodds said that it wasn’t, not quite:
According to Dodds, Turner was not given an in-school suspension. She wasn’t sent out of the classroom, either — she chose to walk out. And, most importantly, she wasn’t punished by the teacher for saying “God bless you” — however, the teacher did admonish her for “disrupting the classroom.”
But you know how educators lie — they don’t even acknowledge that the Constitution is based on the Bible, after all. Also, while the story is exploding in Rightwing social media, even the first news story on the “suspension” notes that the school called Turner’s parents to tell them that she had disrupted the class by shouting “Bless you!” across the classroom.
There’s also this photo from that TV news report, which is apparently a list of “banned” phrases in the classroom:
So it looks like the teacher is a bit of a nitpicky disciplinarian (not to mention boring and stupid and stuff), but nothing in that photo screams that she’s singling out expressions of faith for discrimination. For all we know, the ban on “bless you” had its origin in a previous disruptive incident, probably involving much snot and giggling.
Needless to say, there’s no recording of what happened in the class, and we haven’t heard the teacher’s side of things. If she genuinely did say every single thing that Kendra claims, then yeah, she’s stomping on the First Amendment by suppressing religious speech. But we rather doubt anyone talks like that. On the other hand, kids also are not allowed to shout the text of the Glorious First across a classroom during a test, no matter how het up they may be.
Needless to say, Todd Starnes has already written this one up, presumably after cleaning out the load he blew in his shorts, but who can say with a guy who drinks his own pee? There’s no mention of the alleged shouting, of course, though Starnes darkly hints that “a school official tried to convince me this young lady was a trouble maker. They were clever with their words — but that was the impression I received.” In this context, “clever” means “not openly admitting they hate God, but you could totally tell, you just COULD.”
We hope Mrs. Kindle and the school staff are weathering their daily email and phone visits from the Screaming Wingnut Brigade, and that they will eventually realize that America is a Christian Nation and Christians Never Lie About Oppression.