In a story gaining momentum since late October, a seventh-grader from Katy, Texas, was made to state “God is a myth” by her middle-school teacher. Now the student is facing startling repercussions for her refusal to back down.
It started when 12-year-old Jordan Wooley’s teacher assigned a quiz at West Memorial Junior High School asking students to label statements as “fact, assertion, or opinion.”
Statements included “America is the most free country on Earth,” and “there is a God.” Jordan said the assignment was to identify “factual claims, commonplace assertions and opinions.” She said she originally answered the statement “there is no God” in two ways, according to a local CBS News affiliate.
Jordan labeled the latter as “fact,” and her teacher told her to mark it otherwise, or face an “F” grade.
“I said it was fact or opinion,” Jordan told the station. “Based on my religion and based on what I think and believe, I do not think it was a commonplace assertion.”
Wooley says her seventh-grade reading teacher said both her answers were wrong and that she had to admit God wasn’t real.
“It was really confusing to me at first because I didn’t really know what to do, so the first thing I did was tell my mom,” Wooley said.
The child’s mother, Chantal, said, “That a kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom so who would want to be known. … So the kids were caught in a Catch-22. If they argued their faith, they were being told they were arguing against their faith and that happened in the classroom.”
Jordan later testified in front of Katy Independent School District’s Board of Education meeting on how her friend went home crying after the assignment for being forced to express doubts about her faith.
The Katy ISD released a statement saying, in part, that the assignment was intended to encourage critical thinking and dialogue and not question any students’ religious beliefs.
“Still this does not excuse the fact that this ungraded activity was ill-conceived and because of that, its intent had been misconstrued,” Katy ISD said in its statement.
The district backed the teacher, who said the assignment was “misunderstood.” However after its investigation, “the district said the particular assignment was ‘unnecessary for achieving the instructional standard’ and pointed out that the teacher is actually a Christian and the assignment was misunderstood,” reported Christian Today.
“The teacher is distraught by this 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,” Frailey said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Now Jordan is experiencing fallout from her refusal to back down from her story and for standing up for her beliefs. She says she has been bullied and told to kill herself after media coverage of the incident.
“The Katy Independent School District claimed that it never happened and that Wooley’s story could not be verified,” notes IJ Review. “But Wooley would not relent, calling the school board ‘liars,’ and demanding an apology in a statement on Monday.”
Wooley’s mother, Chantel, said, “Jordan’s faith is continually being tested. She feels like she’s being made to be a liar when all that she did was tell the truth. … She was harassed at school, she was flipped off in the hallway, she was cursed at and blamed for this situation that her teacher and administration has created. She has chosen to forgive them and pray for them.”
Detractors have dismissed the controversy. “The outrage expressed by Jordan and her supporters is essentially directed at anyone who is trying to categorize what religious beliefs really are,” notes Crooks and Liars. “If you say it’s a belief and NOT A FACT, they will get very defensive and accuse you of not respecting their particular brand of what amounts to commonplace assertions. If you suggest it’s a myth, even without using those words, the staunch believer will become agitated and appalled at the mere notion that everyone doesn’t believe exactly as they do. So much for an assignment in the Bible Belt to discuss the differences between facts and beliefs. No wonder the GOP reigns supreme where the word ‘fact’ is a subjective matter.” [Emphasis in original.]
On “Fox and Friends Weekend” with Clayton Morris, Jordan stated, “A few people have told me to kill myself, people have told me things I’m not allowed to say. I’ve lost a few of my close friends, but that’s what will happen.”
When Morris asks her if she’s thought of giving up, however, Wooly replied, “I’m going to keep going until something gets done, and until something gets done, I’m not going to stop.”