Once again, Fox News contributor and anti-gay crusader Todd Starnes has been caught fabricating stories about religious persecution of Christians.
Starnes helped promote a story that first appeared on the conservative blog Townhall, which claimed that a teacher and principal in a California told a 6 year-old student that she “was not allowed to talk about the Bible” in class.
According to the liberal watchdog group Right Wing Watch, this is not the first time Starnes has regurgitated questionable stories that claimed religious discrimination.
Starnes’ version of the story recounted how the girl planned to tell her classmates that she and her family placed an ornament atop their Christmas tree that represented the Star of Bethlehem and then recited a short Bible verse afterward.
Starnes then quoted the family’s attorney who claimed that the girl’s teacher wouldn’t allow her to finish once the religious nature of the presentation was apparent.
“The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation’s public schools has become epidemic,” said attorney Robert Tyler, who threatened to sue if the school district didn’t offer an apology and change its rules regarding religious expression.
What Starnes failed to include were the developments following the accusations, when the teacher and principle were forced to release their own statements after being attacked and harassed due to religious groups circulating the story.
“Over the past week, I have received countless phone calls and 126 mean-spirited emails from across the country as a result of the claims that the Advocates of Faith and Freedom have made against one of my teachers, the school district, and myself,” said Principal Ami Paradise. “These claims are simply not true.”
Similar harassment has been reported by other subjects of Starnes’ poorly vetted stories.
According to the teacher, the girl was taking part in an exercise to improve students’ public speaking skills, and the presentation was cut short simply due to limited time. The teacher denied that the girl was ordered to sit down, and instead said that she was allowed to take a question from the class.
“At no time did I ever tell the student that she could not read the bottom section [of her statement] because it was a Bible verse nor did she ask if she could finish,” said teacher Tammy Williams. “I never told her to ‘Stop right there!’ or ‘Go take your seat!’ or reprimand her in front of the class for sharing from the Bible. It just did not happen.”
Additionally, Paradise revealed that she met with the girl’s parents immediately following the incident, and at no time did they express that they felt their child had been bullied or censored, going on to explain that this characterization was a result of the spin certain religious groups were putting on the story.
“What saddens me is that this story was twisted into lies and brought to the media,” Williams said. “I have never sat down and discussed this directly with the family or the student. I am instead being used to push an agenda for the Advocates for Faith and Freedom.”
H/t: The Raw Story