US professor foiled in bid to bar students from saying 'God bless you' inside school

Part of the syllabus issued by a professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley showing his instruction to students to refrain from saying 'God bless you' during classes and exams.(University of Texas Rio Grande Valley)

A professor at a university in Texas barred his students from saying "God bless you," claiming that the religious greeting was a "distraction" during exam time.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professor, who was not identified in a Fox News report, even printed the ban on the syllabus he issued to the students during the first day of school. In it, he outlined the semester course work and identified two specific behaviours that he deemed distracting during class. The first was the use of cell phones, and the second was the saying "God bless you."

"Please refrain from saying 'God bless you' during classes and exams," part of the syllabus read.

According to Fox News, a snapshot of the syllabus quickly became viral on the Internet, with several students openly criticising the content of the professor's syllabus for restricting their religious freedom.

"It's kind of ridiculous, First Amendment, freedom of religion," said Marcos Villarreal, a student at the university in Edinburg, Texas. "We shouldn't have to block that out of school."

Some students, however, had no qualms with the demands made by the professor. "I honestly wouldn't have a problem with it," said student Aaron Bravo. "It shouldn't really be a problem because it's the teacher's classrooms."

Nevertheless, the professor's move did not meet the approval of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. In a statement, the university said the sentence in the syllabus banning the utterance of "God bless you" inside classrooms has already been removed, and that the professor has already addressed the issue with his students.

"The professor's syllabus sought to identify examples of potentially disruptive behavior the professor believed could hinder the classroom learning environment, including use of cell phones," it explained in a statement.