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USA: Freedom From Religion Foundation objects to religious propagation in Texas school

Sunday 23 December 2018, by siawi3

Source: https://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/33809-ffrf-objects-to-religious-propagation-in-texas-school

FFRF objects to religious propagation in Texas school

December 20, 2018

FFRF is requesting that a Texas public school cease exposing children to religious propaganda through class assignments.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation learned through a district parent that earlier this school year a Champion High School teacher showed a religious propaganda film to her Principles of Education class. The video, entitled “America’s Godly Heritage,” is a production of WallBuilders, an evangelical Christian organization led by David Barton. Now, FFRF is seeking an investigation and corrective action from the district.

The teacher reportedly instructed students to turn in a one-page “Video Observation” sheet after watching the video. The sheet includes a number of misleading evangelical talking points, phrased as questions answered in the video, including: “What year did the Supreme Court rule that it was unconstitutional to pray silently in school?” (an event that never happened); “What have been the effects seen in our society since religion has been taken out of our schools? (at least 4)” (with desired answers including: more teen pregnancy, more STDs, lower SAT scores, lower academic performance, more violent crime, and higher divorce rates); and “What other religion, however, can be taught in our schools now?” (a question designed to confuse religious neutrality—when no religion or ideology is endorsed—with the promotion of atheism).

It is well-settled law that public schools may not endorse or advance religion. FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover sent a letter to the district, discrediting the organization that produced this video and requesting that administrators ensure students will not be exposed to this video or assignment in the future.

“WallBuilders is an organization committed to twisting history in order to sell a false narrative based on Christian exceptionalism,” Grover writes in his letter to the district. “The United States of America was the first nation to adopt a secular and godless constitution, where the only references to religion are exclusionary, such as the prohibition on religious tests for public office. Showing Boerne ISD students a WallBuilders propaganda video that suggests otherwise is not educational; it is both deceitful and illegal.”

FFRF also notes that it is dangerous and misleading for public school teachers to peddle Barton’s myth that a decline in religiosity is linked with a laundry list of alleged societal woes, despite significant social science data proving otherwise.

“Religion is already a divisive force in public schools, with nonreligious students experiencing ostracization and even bullying for publicly identifying themselves as nonreligious,” Grover comments. “District employees should be particularly mindful of not demonizing their nonreligious students, given that fully 38% of young Americans—those born after 1999, i.e., all of the district’s current students—are nonreligious, either identifying as atheists, agnostic, or otherwise not religious.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 31,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 1,200 members and a chapter in Texas. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.