Outrage is swirling around the story emerging from Oviedo, Florida involving a five-year-old girl who was allegedly interrupted during her lunchtime prayer.
According to a story told to the Orlando Sentinel, a kindergartner was preparing to pray over her meal when a ‘lunch teacher’ at Carillon Elementary stopped her.
“My lunch teacher told me that, when I was about to say something...you’re not allowed to pray."
The child said that she responded, "It’s good to pray."
The teacher apparently countered that prayer is "not good".
The young girl was instructed to share her story in a video recorded by her father, Marcos Perez. Perez's video has garnered thousands of views and made local and national news.
A mean godless educator bullying a poor child just trying to say grace over lunch?
While the event is most certainly plausible, early investigation is raising a few red flags.
First, there is the fact that Seminole County Public School officials report that cafeteria workers have no knowledge of the incident or of interacting with Perez's daughter on March 10th, the date the family claimed the incident took place.
Second, Marcos Perez is the vice president of sales at Charisma House, a Lake Mary-based Christian book publisher.
"God Less America: Real Stories from the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values" is a book currently being promoted by Perez's company.
It was written by Fox News host Todd Starnes, who reported on the incident for Fox News Radio.
The coincidence and timing is enough to have some people declaring this entire thing a publicity stunt and hoax.
It is terrible to think that a father might not be above coaching his daughter through a blatant lie "for a good Christian cause". Nevermind slandering innocent school officials in the process and opening himself up to a defamation lawsuit.
Still, it wouldn't be the first time a father has gotten his children to lie for purely selfish reasons.
The balloon boy hoax that happened three years ago involved a father who coached his child into lying in order to potentially get a television deal. Something the child unwittingly admitted to on CNN.
— Tony Perkins (@tperkins) March 31, 2014
Given how visibly upset that young boy was when forced to play a role in the hoax (he would vomit whenever the matter was brought up in interviews), it's something Perez needs to consider if he's electing to put the same emotional strain on his daughter for profit and not because this actually happened.
If an incident did occur, hopefully further investigation will uncover the truth and reveal which teacher is responsible.
Given the viral nature of this story and the strong reaction, an update is inevitable.
Until such time, it's best to wait for all the facts before jumping to any definite conclusion in this matter. Or adults once again using partisan talking points to beat home their own one-sided point of view while forgetting something very important.
A little girl was either told that she couldn't exercise her religious beliefs or was coached to lie for profit and slander.
Either potential outcome is both sad and disturbing, and indicative of adults setting terrible examples for young and impressionable children.
Image via Youtube