School Bible ban reversed following Christian protest

(Photo: Dave Edmonds)

The Liberty Institute released a statement stating that they were victorious in their conflict with a Florida school district over students reading Bibles in the classroom.

The Christian legal defense and advocacy organization said that Broward County Public Schools informed them in a May 18 letter that students are allowed to read Bibles during "free reading" time, and as part of the Accelerated Reader Program.

Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Jeremiah Dys stated in a press release that the District recanted its prior statements, and would now be in compliance with the law.

The controversy began last month, when Park Lakes Elementary School fifth-grader Giovanni Rubeo refused to put his Bible away during free reading time.

Rubeo's father, Paul, had instructed his son that if his teacher or anyone else at the school told him he couldn't read his Bible during the 90-minute free reading period, Giovanni should politely ask that they call his father.

Rubeo's teacher, Swornia Thomas, called Paul and left him a voicemail message.

"Giovanni called you because I asked him to," she said on the recording. "I noticed that he has a book—a religious book—in the classroom. He's not permitted to read those books in my classroom.

"He said, if I told him to put it away, you said not to do that. So, please give me a call. I need to have some understanding on direction to him about the book he's reading as opposed to the curriculum for public school."

Liberty Institute Director of Litigation Hiram Sasser was appalled by the voicemail recording.

"This is the most shocking piece of evidence I've seen in the 12 years of religious liberty work that I've been doing," he told Fox News.

Free reading time allows students to read books of their choosing, while the Accelerated Reader Program lets students choose from a list of approved books. 60 of the 66 books of the Bible are on the approved list.

Liberty Institute said they will keep an eye on Broward County Schools.

"We do not know if the teacher is in trouble with the school district, but we will continue to monitor this school system carefully to ensure that their actions toward student religious liberty continue match their words," Dys said in a news release.