ACLU SENDS LETTER; SPARKS WAR ON CHRISTIANITY
"Religious Rants in the Classroom"
Students in public school say Christianity is being forced on them.
By Zack Kopplin
November 2, 1015
During health class, students at Airline High, a public school in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, read Bible passages, and their teacher asks them to identify their favorite verses. Airline students told me they are taught creationism as science and pressured into attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes club meetings. During gym class, girls are warned against contraception by a “born again virgin” from the local crisis pregnancy center, a Christian anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-premarital-sex advocacy center.
Yet in Bossier, conservative Christians say they feel under attack. In a video shared by tens of thousands of people, Pastor Mike Welch of Bistineau Baptist Church raises his eyebrows above his sunglasses and delivers the line: “Christians, we’ve taken enough stuff lying down.” Welch, parked in his car in front of Airline High, is recording himself on his phone, which is balanced on the dashboard. “I refuse,” he says, “I flat refuse, in America, to be forced into hiding as a Christian!”
Welch was upset because on Sept. 24, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a warning to the Bossier Parish School Board. It stated that Airline’s principal, Jason Rowland, had engaged in a “pattern of religious proselytization.” Among other things, Rowland had sent out newsletters with religious messages and, over the school’s intercom, urged students to “pray to the almighty God.”
In response to the ACLU’s caution about a clear breach of the First Amendment, yard signs calling Rowland a “Prayer Warrior” were planted in front of Airline’s flagpole. The Bossier Parish School Board passed a resolution in support of the principal that declared, “our history and tradition respect the freedom of religion not the freedom from religion.” A pray-in protest against the ACLU was organized.
At the protest the next weekend, the front lawn of Airline High was packed with hundreds of people. Men in leather Christian Motorcyclists Association jackets stood next to high school students in their Fellowship of Christian Athletes T-shirts. People held hands in small circles, and prayer flags waved from their back pockets. Some bowed their heads and kneeled on the concrete, praying. Over a loudspeaker, a woman told the crowd that “the Lord” was about to do something amazing. “Get ready, he’s here!” she announced.
I scanned the crowd, but I didn’t see him.
This is the beginning of a fairly long article about one Louisiana public school district’s Christian proselytizing of its students. The entire article is here: RELIGION IN THE CLASSROOM
It is well worth a read since it catalogs literally dozens of examples of how the local school board, the Airline High School administrators and the school’s teachers are engaged in advocating, introducing, and teaching clearly unconstitutional religious dogma.
I have been a dues paying member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for years. Why? Because they and the Southern Poverty Law Center are probably the top two organizations in the country who fight intolerance, bigotry and unlawful practices in the secular U.S. of A. and have been doing this work for decades now. It is instructive that the ACLU letter to the School Board warning that Airline High School’s principal was engaged in religious proselytizing set off a tidal wave of “War On Christianity” sentiment among the righteous folks of Bossier Parish, Louisiana.
Naturally, any interference in the teaching of Creationism, anti-evolution science, the Ten Commandments, etc. in Louisiana’s public schools is immediately characterized as a full blown attack on Religious Liberty and Free Speech. An unabashed “WAR ON CHRISTIANITY.” In Louisiana this teaching of religion in public schools was aided and abetted by Governor Bobby Jindal and the Republican state legislature when they passed the double-mind-speak “Louisiana Science Education Act” that allows teachers to “critique” evolution through “supplemental materials” like the opening passages of Genesis, for example.
Here’s a few more juicy bits from the Slate article:
From teacher Carolyn Goodwin: “Bossier has problems but there are so many awesome Christians from the top down. We pray at school functions and probably break the law all the time!”
From Lucy, a student: “one of our science teachers got in trouble last year for teaching evolution as a fact and our class teacher got in trouble for it” while an AP Biology teacher, says Lucy, “didn’t want to teach evolution because she was scared” about the controversy.
U. S. Senator David Vitter is quoted as saying that he was at a rally to fight against “the left who wants to push religion out of the public square.” (Note: And this guy is a U.S. Senator who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution?)
Outside of a discussion about sexually transmitted infections in science class, students stated that the only sex education came from a guest speaker, a “born again virgin,” from a crisis pregnancy center, a religious organization that provides inaccurate information about pregnancy and contraception.
And there you have it, how one public school teaches Creationism and practice Christianity on its students in Twenty First Century America. Don’t kid yourselves that this only happens in Louisiana.
To me it looks like once again, the teaching of religious dogma in pubic schools the right wing holds so closely to its heart, will be settled by the Supreme Court just like Obamacare and same sex marriage. And while I am loathe to predict an outcome (the loony Hobby Lobby decision and disastrous Citizen’s United decision as evidence of the Court’s lack of common sense) the Constitution is pretty clear about the imposition of religion on the public. Sure, Louisiana is not exactly California or New York, liberal bastions of left wing communism as they might be, but even in conservative Louisiana and even with it’s batshit crazy Governor, I cannot imagine a Supreme Court outcome that will not slap down these religious fundamentalists and all their fake War on Christianity bullshit. Enough is enough already.
Please God, why must we put up with this nonsense?