This Teacher Never Told a First Grader ‘You’re Not Allowed to Talk About the Bible in School’

I have a hard time believing Christians are under attack in America. Mostly because they’re so totally not. Usually, when Christian groups are upset, it’s not because their rights are being violated, but because they’re no longer getting the privileged treatment they’re used to receiving. So you should always take their complaints with a grain of salt and search for whatever they’re not telling you.

When I heard about first-grader Brynn Williams‘ story, in the back of my mind, I was wondering what really happened because I knew Advocates for Faith & Freedom (a Christian version of the Freedom From Religion Foundation) couldn’t be trusted to share the entire story.

Here’s how AFF explained what happened:

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A Georgia Republican Legislator Wants To Legalize Prayer During Morning Announcements, Football Games, and Graduation

Last year, Mississippi’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant signed into law a bill that made student-led, administration-supported proselytizing perfectly legal in the state’s public schools.

On the surface, the bill appeared to be useless — as one Americans United lawyer said of similar legislation, “This bill is a solution in search of a problem.” It said students could “express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination”… even though they could always do that. It said students could form religious clubs that met before or after school… which was also never in doubt.

Here’s where things got really weird. The bill said:

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Humanist Group Fights Back Against School District That Held Graduation in Church with Christians Prayers in Ceremony

Last year, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center found out that administrators at Mountain View Elementary School in Taylors, South Carolina held their “graduation” ceremony inside of a church.

To make matters worse, the program for the event very clearly listed two separate prayers — both of which were led by students. Furthermore, both were Christian prayers that referred to “Jesus” and both were approved by a school official before the ceremony:

It’s possible to hold a public school graduation in a church — other districts have gotten away with that — but even Christian administrators who want to sneak prayers into the ceremony know well enough to call them “invocations” instead of giving away the game and they make sure school officials are not linked to the prayers.

The AHA sent the district a letter warning them of the consequences, but the school’s response didn’t quite indicate how they would change the ceremony in the future other than reiterating that “the school will not endorse the use of prayer by students”… which left the door wide open for prayers to continue without the school’s public support.

After another round of back-and-forth, the district took a stand and said they would not stop student-initiated prayers, leading the AHA to file a federal lawsuit on behalf of a family in the district.

Unfortunately, December’s court hearing was a mess. The judge, Ross Anderson, said things that no one with a strong knowledge of the facts should have said, a claim the AHA suggests in a recent court filing:

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How I Stood Up for My Right to Sit Down: a 10-Year-Old Atheist Tells His Story

This is an article by 10-year-old Grover Helton, as told to American Atheist. It appears in the 1st Quarter 2014 issue of American Atheist magazine. American Atheist is available at Barnes & Noble and Book World bookstores in the U.S. and at Chapters/Indigo bookstores in Canada. Go to Atheists.org/magazine to subscribe or to join American Atheists. Members receive a free digital subscription. It’s also available from iTunes.

I have never said the Pledge of Allegiance at my school because it says “one nation under god” and I don’t believe in god. But I always stood up with the rest of the class. Then I didn’t want to do that anymore.

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The Scariest Map You’ll See All Day: The Schools Where Taxpayer Money Funds the Teaching of Creationism

Last week, Zack Kopplin made us aware of how the largest charter school network in Texas promotes Creationism.

Now, Slate‘s Chris Kirk shows us a map where taxpayer money can legally be used to espouse Creationism, whether through charter schools or public schools:



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