(Washington D.C., September 12, 2018) – The American Humanist Association (AHA) legal team sent a letter today to administrators at Bedford County Schools in Shelbyville, Tennessee, demanding that a science teacher immediately halt religious proselytizing to students. The letter, sent on behalf of a parent of a Cascade Middle School student, reports that the classroom curriculum is frequently infused with religious doctrine, unscientific materials, and outright misinformation.
Monica Miller, AHA senior counsel, writes, “Children are urged to reject the scientifically accepted view of evolution in this class, merely because it conflicts with bible interpretation.” The teacher “recently played a video called ‘The Theory of Genesis: How Old is the World?’” in class, disputing the scientific consensus on the age of the world and instead promoting a “young earth” view. The letter also details that the teacher has played other videos with Christian overtones, mentions “the great flood” almost daily, and frequently tells the class that “God” is responsible for natural phenomena.
“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment strictly forbids public school teachers from advancing religious views and presenting Christian mythology as scientific fact in the public school classrooms,” says Miller. “The teacher here is not merely sharing his personal religious views with students during class time, which alone would be inappropriate, but is aggressively injecting those views into the actual curriculum, making this an egregious constitutional violation.”
The American Humanist Association’s letter demands that appropriate actions are taken to immediately stop Christian proselytizing and coercion at Bedford County Schools and at Cascade Middle School specifically.
Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the AHA, explained, “Evangelizing to students is not only unconstitutional, it’s unethical. This teacher is taking advantage of his position of authority to promote sectarian religious beliefs.”
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans, including almost 600 members in Tennessee. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
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