Was Teacher Wrong to Tell Girl That Belief in God is an Opinion?

A 12-year-old student in Texas was recently corrected by her teacher after she answered on a school assignment that the existence of God is both a fact and an opinion.

The girl, Jordan Wooley, was completing an assignment that asked students to identify statements as facts, opinions or commonplace assertions. One of the statements was, “There is a God,” ABC News reports.

Wooley answered that it’s both fact and opinion and her teacher told her she was wrong. The Washington Post reports that the teacher told students that, “God is only a myth.” The girl texted her mom about the situation and now her mom is speaking out.

“In this day in age, I would have never guessed that something like this would happen in a classroom in America,” Chantel Wooley tells ABC News.

The school, West Memorial Junior High School, issued a statement to ABC saying that the teacher is “distraught” by the incident “as some commentary has gone as far as to vilify her without knowing her, her Christian faith, or the context of the classroom activity.”

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“Still, this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued,” the statement continued.

Some say the teacher was out of line for correcting the student and for using religion in the assignment to begin with.

“The same way that teachers should not speak ‘pro-God,’ they should not speak ‘anti-God,'” sulee1 commented on a Washington Post story about the incident. “The teacher was very wrong for even bringing the concept of God/religion into a public school classroom. I live on the anti-God side of the street, but the student was well within her right to be upset, the same way another child would be upset if the teacher admonished those who did not believe in God.”

But others say the teacher was simply doing her job.

“What if the values at home are saying the earth is flat? Should a teacher lie and stop teaching objective truth as we know it to be through science?” user ScottCA commented on the ABC News story.

The assignment “in no way discredited any religion,” another commenter, Kirby, wrote. “This assignment was a simple way of showing how to properly use the word ‘fact,'” he continued. “The student’s answer was wrong. That there is a God is not a ‘fact.'”

Even the school district called the assignment “ill-conceived” so it sounds like the issue won’t be repeated, but the situation still begs the question: Is it wrong for a teacher to say that the existence of God isn’t an absolute truth? Is the fact that others don’t agree with the statement what makes it an opinion?

In the reverse scenario, what if the student had answered only “opinion,” but the teacher believed in God and considered it a fact: Wouldn’t the teacher then be scrutinized for trying to force her religious beliefs on a student? There’s no right answer in this case, which is why the question shouldn’t have been asked. But since it was, this student responded tactfully – that the statement was both a fact (to her) and an opinion (to others). Isn’t that the sort of thoughtful response a teacher should applaud?

What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below.

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