Louisiana School District Questioned After Principal’s Promotion of Christianity

How many religious references do we need to see from public school officials before we can all admit they’ve overstepped their bounds?

Exhibit 1: Principal Albert Hardison‘s message on the website for Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School in Louisiana, part of the Caddo Parish Public Schools:

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For Reasons That Make No Sense, the Supreme Court Has Let Stand NYC’s Ban on Worship Services in Public Schools

In 1994, the Bronx Household of Faith (an urban church) filled out an application to rent out space at a New York City public school for its Sunday morning services. Their application was rejected because of something now known as “Standard Operating Procedure” (SOP) §5.11.

No outside organization or group may be allowed to conduct religious services or religious instruction on school premises after school. However, the use of school premises by outside organizations or groups after school for the purpose of discussing religious material or material which contains a religious viewpoint or for distributing such material is permissible.

So it was okay for groups to rent out the space to teach kids about religion… but if it became too church-like, that was a no-no? (What was the difference? Saying “Amen”?)

At one point, in 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in Good News Club v. Milford Central School that it was unconstitutional for a public school district to exclude groups like the GNC, which taught religion to children through memorizing Bible verses and singing songs and teaching them they will burn in hell for eternity if they don’t accept Jesus into their lives.

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Atheists Who Attended a School’s “Good News Club” Meeting Respond to a Volunteer’s Concerns About Their Reporting

Yesterday, I posted about how some atheists who had started a “Young Skeptics” group had gone to a meeting of a local elementary school’s Good News Club — a Christian group — to find out what exactly was being taught to children.

Referring to the doctrine of eternal torture if you don’t accept Christ in your life, the atheists were concerned that the GNC’s teachings were “intimidating to children, which was a violation of the district’s facilities use policy.” They were also concerned when one of the GNC group’s leaders told them they were not using the (parent organization) Child Evangelism Fellowship’s approved curriculum, which turned out to be inaccurate.

One of the comments underneath that post was made by “Holly,” who wrote:

As a volunteer for the GNC group at this school, I can tell you that this is greatly exaggerated. For instance, [atheists] Dan Courtney or Kevin Davis didn’t mention that the leader of the Young Skeptics Club was told to remain a certain distance from one of the volunteers, because he had gotten overly aggressive. Why were the police called? Because strangers were taking pictures of our kids. If it were any other community club, the men coming in and taking pictures would be met with ire. Imagine if it was your daughter’s ballet class and a group of men came in and just started taking pictures? You might call the police, too.

As for the “lying,” that, too is really exaggerated. The person who was asked if the GNC club used CES curriculum likely didn’t know what CES was, and probably said, “We use our own curriculum” meaning, the Good News Club’s curriculum. There was absolutely no intention to deceive. Actually, it’s quite obvious the GNC uses the CES curriculum — anyone who went to CES’s website and then observed our club would be able to tell. Now, perhaps the GNC leaders should be better apprised of where the teaching sources come from, but since only one or two people are in charge of teaching, not all the volunteers are aware of the connection between CES and GNC.

This video and Kevin Davis’s version of the events that occurred are so over-the-top, my liberal, ACLU atheist friend was appalled. Please read my blog for the other side of the story. Dissenting comments are fine, but hateful comments won’t be published. The link is [here].

I understand the hate for religion runs deep among some atheists, but what’s been written here is simply false.

Hemant, I’m actually a longtime reader of your blog, and will continue reading, but I hope when you receive a one-sided story, you won’t present it as “gospel truth.” No pun intended.

Those are some serious charges, so I asked Kevin Davis for a response.

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The Trouble with Teaching Evolution When You’re Surrounded by Creationists

University of Kentucky Biology Professor James J. Krupa has a tough job because, well, he teaches science in Ken Ham Country. In an article for Orion, he explained why he defends Darwin despite the opposition:

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Atheists Attend School’s “Good News Club” Meeting & Find Out Christian Organizers Lied to District About Curriculum

The Good News Club is a weekly program targeting elementary school children, because a lot of Christians love to indoctrinate kids before they start asking critical questions. (If you haven’t read it yet, check out Katherine Stewart‘s fantastic book about the organization.)

When a GNC began at Fairbanks Road Elementary School in New York, Monroe County residents Dan Courtney, Bill Courtney, and Kevin Davis weren’t sure how to respond. It wasn’t illegal for the group to be there, but they wanted an alternative for parents like them who preferred more skeptical fare for their kids.

So, earlier this year, they began a group of their own called Young Skeptics (sponsored by the tongue-in-cheek “Better News Club, Inc”).

In the meantime, they’ve been keeping tabs on the GNC at the elementary school and realized there were some major problems:

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