Fox News pundit helps his publisher hype story about Christian persecution at school

By Travis Gettys
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 14:38 EDT
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Little girl can't pray
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Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes is hyping yet another alleged instance of alleged persecution of Christian students by public school employees, reported Right Wing Watch.

Starnes reported Saturday that a teacher at Carillon Elementary School in Oviedo, Fla., stopped a kindergartner from praying March 10 before lunch.

The 5-year-old girl described the incident in a video posted online by her father, Marco Perez, a vice president of sales at the Christian publisher Charisma House — which signed Starnes to a one-book contract on its FrontLine imprint.

That book, “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values,” is set for release May 6.

In the video, the girl talks to her mother and father, who recorded the comments and speaks off-camera.

“How were you going to pray?” Perez said. “What did you do when you were going to pray? Show me what you did with your hands and whatever else.”

The girl closes her eyes, bows her head, folds her hands in prayer, and said her teacher stopped her and said she wasn’t allowed to pray.

“She said you’re not allowed to pray?” Perez said.

The girl said yes, and her father asked what she told the teacher.

“It’s good to pray!” the girl said, adding that her teacher told her, “it’s not good.”

The video had garnered more than 72,000 views by Tuesday afternoon, and the conservative Liberty Institute is representing the family.

“This is a violation of the federal law and we expect the school district to apologize to the Perezes (by April 7) and the community as well as take steps to ensure this does not happen again,” said Jeremiah Dys, senior counsel for the Liberty Institute, in a four-page letter to Seminole Schools.

Starnes, who has a history of pushing one-sided reports of public school persecution of Christian students, reported that school officials responded to the family’s complaint, which was made after the video was posted, and said students were permitted to pray in school and at lunch.

School officials said none of the adults present in the cafeteria that day recalled a conversation with the girl.

“The situation as stated by the parent has not occurred according to the school’s investigation,” said Michael Lawrence, spokesman for Seminole County Schools. “We’re dealing with very young children here so there’s quite a bit of an opportunity for miscommunication to occur. The timing and the issues were very odd considering that the first thing that happened was that a video was done, it was on YouTube.”

The Liberty Council disputes that timeline, saying Perez had sent several emails to the school before posting the video.

The school spokesman said the elementary school principal will remind employees there is no policy against student prayer, as long as no school activities are disrupted.

Perez said his family had moved to Seminole County for the school district, but they would now home school their daughter.

“This definitely pushed us over,” he said. “We’ve long had concerns about Common Core and issues and agendas we see in the culture war.”

Watch the video posted online by Marcos Perez:

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