Yet Even More Proof That Religious Right Myths Never Die

Earlier this week, James Dobson interviewed Kelly Shackleford and Jeremy Dys of the First Liberty Institute about what they see as the vital need for President Trump to protect the religious liberty of Christians in this nation.

Dobson, Dys and Shackleford insisted that conservative Christians are under relentless attack in America and facing increasing persecution, so much so that now even five-year-old girls are being told they cannot pray before eating their lunch at school.

“The attacks are not just increasing, they’re increasing at an exponential level,” Shackleford asserted. “So we’re seeing a lot more attacks, [including] a little five-year-old girl we represented who was actually stopped from paying over her meal and told—quote—’It’s not good to pray in school’.”

“You’re not making that up,” Dobson responded, to which Shackleford replied that this was indeed one of the “real cases that are occurring all over the country.”

Later in the program, when Dys brought up the incident again, Dobson still couldn’t believe that “that’s a real story,” but Dys assured him that it was, saying that he was personally in the room when the young girl was asked to identify the teacher who allegedly told her that she was not allowed to pray because “it’s not good.”

“These are real stories,” Dys insisted.

If this story sounds familiar, that might be because we covered it back in 2014 after Fox News commentator Todd Starnes wrote about it in one of his columns while conveniently failing to mention that the young girl in question just so happened to be the daughter of the man who was the vice president of sales at the Christian publishing house that was publishing Starnes’ forthcoming book, that just so happened to be about how Christians in America were under attack.

As we noted back then, the school district launched an investigation into the allegations and concluded that there was “no proof whatsoever” that this young girl had ever been told to stop praying. The teacher identified by the student, according to the school, wasn’t even in the cafeteria at the time the event supposedly occurred:

School officials said Wednesday that they can’t find any evidence to suggest that a kindergartner was told not to pray in a Seminole County elementary lunchroom.

But the school district apologized anyway, and a lawyer for the girl’s parents said they are satisfied with the outcome.

“We found zero evidence an incident ever occurred,” said district spokesman Mike Lawrence. “There’s no proof whatsoever.”

As for the identified staffer, a school-district investigator has concluded that “there is no way possible that person was anywhere near the lunchroom” that kindergartners and first-graders use. In addition to the student and her family, the district has interviewed staffers, the accused adult and Gabriella’s classmates, Lawrence said.

It looks like we’ll have to add this story to the list of Religious Right myths that never die.