After Promoting Christian Prayers at School, Missouri District Agrees to Pay Humanist Lawyers $41,000 in Settlement

Last year, we learned of a constitutional violation at Fayette High School in Missouri. Gwen Pope, a math teacher at the school, was leading Christian devotional prayers in her classroom every Friday morning. That alone might have been okay since she was the faculty sponsor for a Christian club, but announcements about those prayers were made over the school’s loudspeakers while other student groups didn’t get the same privilege.



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Ten Years Later, a Reflection on Michael Newdow’s Attempt to Remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance

Ten years ago today, the Supreme Court dismissed an atheist’s challenge that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance were an endorsement of religion — without actually settling that question one way or the other. I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit that case and its implications.

Michael Newdow (above) filed the lawsuit against the Elk Grove Unified School District in March of 2000 on behalf of his daughter, who was in kindergarten at the time. Newdow argued that the daily recitation of the Pledge was an endorsement of religion by the district and he wanted the courts to rule that the inclusion of the words “Under God” violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

In July, District Judge Peter Nowinski, not surprisingly, disagreed, maintaining that “the Pledge does not violate the Establishment Clause.”

So Newdow appealed. And that’s when all hell broke loose.

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Tecumseh School Board Debates Having Prayers at Meetings; Member Suggests Atheists Would Be Fine with Them

If you want to see ignorance at work, check out the conversation that took place between Tecumseh (Michigan) School Board members earlier this week when the idea of having religious prayers at meetings came up:



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Australian News Program Looks Into Christian Indoctrination Taking Place in Public Schools

Australian public schools offer “special religious instruction” (SRI) which is something of a joke when you realize how badly that privilege is abused. In theory, it’s great because kids can learn about the beliefs of all different faiths. But in many schools, the religious education is primarily Christian and the education veers into heavy indoctrination. Volunteers — and they’re always Christian, it seems — often use the time with students to make converts instead of merely educating them about what they believe.

The last time I mentioned this problem, the group called Fairness In Religions In School (FIRIS) was raising awareness of the abuses within the SRI program in part because they said parents don’t really know what’s going on in their kids’ schools. To that end, they put up a billboard in Melbourne to show parents what their kids may be learning:

Beautiful.

The leader of ACCESS Ministries — a Christian group that provides about 96% of SRI in the state, in 850 of the 1300 primary schools — was quick to denounce the billboard, not because it wrongly depicted humans and dinosaurs living at the same time, but because it was mocking Jesus. Which it wasn’t.

Yesterday, an Australian show called A Current Affair looked into ACCESS Ministries and exposed how the organization works:

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Law Society of British Columbia Votes to Reverse Accreditation of Anti-Gay Christian School

Back in December, I posted about a proposed new law school in British Columbia affiliated with (Christian) Trinity Western University where gay students who acted on their sexual orientation would not be allowed through the doors:

At the time, I defended the school’s right to exist. My thinking was that, like private Christian schools in the United States, they could discriminate however they’d like — and it won’t ultimately matter since the students would still have to learn and defend Canadian law as written and pass the Canadian version of the bar exam. In other words, their Christian anti-gay bigotry wouldn’t work in the real world. (A few commenters attempted to refute my thinking here.)

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