Jordan Wooley, a sevent-grade student in Katy, Texas, said an assignment questioned her faith when her teacher told her God wasn't real. Photo courtesy of KHOU-TV, Houston, via USA Today

Texas student: Teacher taught 'God is not real'

KATY, Texas — A seventh-grade assignment in a Texas school district asked students to deny the existence of God, a student said.

The Katy Independent School District has since apologized and the principal of West Memorial Junior High School determined the assignment wasn't necessary for students.

But the assignment still didn't sit well with one student.

Jordan Wooley, a sevent-grade student in Katy, Texas, said an assignment questioned her faith when her teacher told her God wasn't real. Photo courtesy of KHOU-TV, Houston, via USA Today

Jordan Wooley, a sevent-grade student in Katy, Texas, said an assignment questioned her faith when her teacher told her God wasn't real. Photo courtesy of KHOU-TV, Houston, via USA Today

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Jordan Wooley said she answered the question "there is a God" in two ways.

"I said it was fact or opinion," she said.

Jordan said her 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," Jordan said.

Her mom, Chantel Wooley, couldn't believe it.

"That a kid was literally graded against her faith in God in a classroom," said Wooley.

Jordan testified at the Katy school district's Board of Education meeting Monday (Oct. 26).

"Today I was given an assignment in school that questioned my faith," Jordan said at the meeting.

On Tuesday, the school district released a statement saying, in part, that the assignment was intended to encourage critical thinking and dialogue and not question any student's 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," the district said in its statement.

Wooley could understand the assignment if it were given in college.

"Are we talking about impressionable 12- or 13-year-olds or are we talking about 24-year-olds in college who already have a firm grasp of the world around them?" she asked.

"I love reading so for me personally to have to fail reading because of what my beliefs are just shocked me," Jordan said.

Jordan said the assignment was in fact graded, so she would have had to contradict her faith in order to pass.

The school district said the teacher who came up with the assignment is distraught and that it's crucial not to vilify the teacher without knowing her and her Christian faith.

The teacher did not respond to requests for comment outside her home.

Katy is about 30 miles west of Houston. According to the school district's website, there are more than 70,000 students attending schools in the district.

(Josh Chapin writes for KHOU-TV, Houston.)


  1. All across the country (and especially in the South) we have accounts of Christianist teachers mocking, insulting and punishing students who don’t fall in line with the teachers religious delusions, be they Buddhists, Muslims, or simply unbelievers. The evangelical media machine, without fail, supports and defends the Christianist teacher. But whenever the shoe is on the other foot, there is all of a sudden a mountain of artificial ‘outrage’
    It is crystal clear that the definition of ‘Anti-Christian bigotry’ is ‘whenever a human being treats a fundamentalist / evangelical the way fundamentalist / evangelicals treat everybody else.’

  2. Why do I get the feeling the story is probably exaggerated or a misrepresentation of facts?

    In the overwhelming majority of cases where a teacher is accused of attacking the Christian beliefs of students, the real story is not what is initially reported. Most are outright fabrications. Especially from sources notorious for exploiting such nonsense.

    “It’s not hard to spot Wooley’s mistake. She’s equating “commonplace assertion” with “myth.” That’s simply not accurate.”

    “The teacher was absolutely right in saying “God exists” is a commonplace assertion. The question itself was intended to provoke discussion. If students think the answer is wrong, it’s because they don’t understand the categories, not because a teacher is trying to rid them of their religious beliefs.

  3. Often these type of forums are dominated by arguments of atheists saying “Ha ha, we are smart” and “Ha ha, Christians are dumb.” Whatever the real facts in the case which I suspect no one except someone who has the personnel file on the teacher has true knowledge of, the story is about a teacher in a rich Texas suburb who did this, well, folks, that teacher was the stupid atheist here. It’s like unfastening a wire hanger and sticking both ends in an electrical socket: it’s going to cause a little explosion and the person who caused it won’t look good. Perhaps the poor teacher was so on fire for her nonbelief and in her zeal messed up royally.

  4. By all accounts this is a matter of an ultra-religious student being knee-jerk defensive instead of understanding the assignment.

    There was no “test”. It was not a graded assignment but an attempt to teach how one handles objective/commonplace assertions . But its nice to know how much Christians are willing to exaggerate and make up stuff in service of their faith. 🙂

    Considering Texas public school systems have a nasty habit of mixing church and state, one can see where there is some skittishness here. If fundamentalist Christian Texans are not getting their posteriors kissed by official government sanction, they get nervous.

    The rest of your screed is simply a display of your ignorance of the 1st Amendment and what religious freedom actually means. Being Christian does not entitle you to greater privileges than anyone else in this nation.

  5. “…originally all schools in America were established by the churches…”

    100% false. You really need to quit buying into every lie that David Barton creates off the top of his head. And they aren’t ‘your’ schools; they are truly ‘public’ schools, and that includes my family as well. I don’t want my child indoctrinated with false Christianist myths any more than I’d want them taught Islam or any other nonsense. Schools should be about facts, not fairy tales.
    Also, you claim the people who came to America were being persecuted for their faith. What you don’t mention is the fact that it was OTHER CHRISTIANS doing the persecuting – something they still do to this day, whenever they think they can get away with it.

  6. S,

    “. . . people were being persecuted for their faith so they came to America for freedom of religion,” and then they started persecuting Native Americans.

    “However, that does not mean that we want our children to be endoctrinated into islam or any other false religion.” There is a lesson here: If you’ve determined that all the other religions on earth are false, then it’s a darn good bet that yours is too. There is simply no legitimate basis on which to establish that your religion is true, and all the others are false.

  7. Time to chalk this up to “The dangers of trying to teach critical thinking in Texas”.

    I will be brutally honest, many adults (including some who post here) can’t tell difference between:
    “God exists is a fact” and
    “God exists is an assertion”

    The types who have no trust in faith as the source of their religious belief and feel the pressing need to make stuff up about clear proof of God’s existence (which of course includes Creationist).

  8. In teaching critical thinking in a debate class, the sides of a debate are given a position to defend. Often, a participant in the debate team will have to defend a position s/he does not personally believe. The importance of the exercise is for participants to learn to develop cogent, complete arguments. It will assist them in understanding not just two sides to all positions, but all sides to positions, political, religious, or otherwise.

    Anyone of any religion or lack of faith would benefit from understanding exactly what their faith teachings are and can advocate it on a logical level. This student could have used the assignment of defending “there is no God” by exploring the subject so s/he knows exactly why s/he DOES believe in God.

    Remember: if the blind lead the blind, they both end up in the ditch. We should not be teaching our children how to be blind, but rather how to search for the truth.

  9. I thought God was not to be mentioned in Public Schools, so why is it acceptable for this teacher to request such an assignment? It’s incredible how stupid so many teachers are today. Hope she gets suspended w/o pay for two weeks.

  10. This isn’t critical thinking. It’s an attempt to enculturate students into the folkways of the upper-middle-class urban-coastal elite. Even before Culture Wars, when I was in school, everyone knew you could get points for making anti-religious comments. Just include some canned anti-religious cliche in a class essay and you were guaranteed to get a laudatory marginal comment from teacher, like ‘Now you’re really thinking!

    I don’t doubt that in Texas there may be pressure to make religious noises. But elsewhere religious belief is not, and has not been for years, socially acceptable. And the facile view of teachers is that anti-religious remarks ipso facto show smarts and critical thinking, apart from any argument, explanation or defense.

  11. Leaving religion aside altogether, it is just not helpful to use deeply held issues of personal identity for a critical thinking exercise. Imagine if the statement was: “It is wrong to treat women as inferior to men” or “women are not inferior to men”. Is that an assertion or an opinion or a fact? The point is, it would be helpful to situate such an exercise in terrain that does not loom so large in people’s sense of self.

  12. Saying God does or doesn’t exists are of course 2 different opinions. Neither are facts. No one knows because they obviously can’t know and people shouldn’t come unglued when asked to think or when their beliefs are questioned ( which in this case they clearly weren’t )

  13. What is a “Christianist?” Sounds like a Christophobe was behind it. Of course Barton’s wrong. America was started by atheists and Satanists, not Christians. The Pilgrims and Puritans weren’t Christians. They were Hindu gurus, voodoo witch doctors, and New Age yoga practitioners. Most definitely.

  14. Which requires the same level of proof as saying “God exists”. None whatsoever.

    Assertions without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. 🙂

  15. For all who assert that “Christianists” exert undue influence over public school policy, compare the Katy school district which went out of its way to rationalize and defend a teacher who clearly crossed the line in forcing her atheistic views on others to the case of the high school coach who was just fired for praying with students who wanted to pray with him before a game. Anti-religious secularists have held sway over most areas of public education for decades now–time to wake up and smell the coffee.

    Oh, and for those who assert that the teacher was merely providing an exercise in critical thinking–give me a break! If the exercise would have begun with the opposite premise–that God DOES exist–you’d all be calling for her head right now. Let’s be honest, people!

  16. Saying that God does not exist, that he did not create the marvelous and awe-inspiring universe, nor the beautimous earth and everything on it, including the human family (which is incredibly made in spite of its imperfections) is comparable to believing that you can go to Mars and survive on your own without water, food or oxygen! Those necessities simply do not exist there, but God certainly does!

    The heavens declare the creativity, intelligence, order, power and vivid imagination of Almighty God. The earth, its plantation, water sources, food, animals and oxygen declare God’s intense love for the human race. It’s just so obvious! ❤️??

  17. “Assertions without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
    Self-refuting assertion.

  18. “It’s just so obvious! Look at the trees!” How did you rule out natural processes, the quantum mind theory, or multiple gods? If it’s so obvious to you, maybe it’s because you haven’t thought about it.

  19. The exercise DID begin with that premise. So I’m not sure what your point is. That was the question, and it was being asked whether it was an opinion, common assertion, or fact. The exercise would have had the same value if the starting question was “Does God not exist?”

  20. “…the Katy school district which went out of its way to rationalize and defend a teacher who clearly crossed the line in forcing her atheistic views on others to the case of the high school coach who was just fired for praying with students who wanted to pray with him before a game.”

    Facts are not your strong point here.

    The HS coach was fired for leading students in prayer, making it inherently coercive and illegal. Public servants engaging in coercive acts of religious expression attacks the religious freedom of all under their control.

    LETS be honest here.
    You would find a coach leading a team in a Muslim or Buddhist prayer objectionable as an imposition and attack on the players’ beliefs. But because you share the same faith, its somehow OK. No. Not ever.

    If you feel that upholding religious freedom and the law of the land is “forcing atheistic views”, it says little for your knowledge of such things.

  21. My kids would have known how to respond to that assignment. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, except by Him. I would tell them that’s an A+, then I would definitely go deal with the teacher and the school myself.

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