Humanist Group Sues School District That Held Graduation in Church and Included Christians Prayers in Ceremony

Back in June, we learned that administrators at Mountain View Elementary School in Taylors, South Carolina held their “graduation” ceremony inside of a church.

Maybe they could’ve gotten away with that — other public schools have held cermonies in similar places — but the event’s program didn’t even attempt to shy away from promoting Christianity, listing two separate prayers:

As I wrote then, “school officials didn’t just cross the line. They destroyed the line and then prayed to Jesus to patch it back up.”

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent the district a letter warning them of the consequences of continuing future ceremonies in the same location with these prayers.

The district responded the next day, but failed to say how they would change their plans for the future:

With regard to the prayers given at the program by students of Mountain View Elementary School, the District can assure you that the school will not endorse the use of prayer by students at any awards program or school-sponsored event in the future.

That’s legalese for “We won’t publicly admit that we support the students, but we’re not going to stop the Christian prayers.”

In fact, a school official asked a student to deliver the first prayer. And the closing prayer, also recited by a student, was this:

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Texas Textbook Reviewers Are Trying to Push Creationism Into the Classroom

How did the Texas State Board of Education get back into the news?! I thought we were done with them after Don McLeroy left, but they’re back and they’re once again promoting bad science:

Records show that the textbook reviewers made ideological objections to material on evolution and climate change in science textbooks from at least seven publishers, including several of the nation’s largest publishing houses. Failing to obtain a review panel’s top rating can make it harder for publishers to sell their textbooks to school districts, and can even lead the state to reject the books altogether.

The Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education put out a joint press release this week explaining how the TFN obtained the review panel’s notes from the Texas Education Agency “through a request under the state’s Public Information Act.”

Among the most egregious examples they found:

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Religious School’s Chairman Destroys 3,000 Student Planners Because They Include Image of ‘Satanic’ Peace Sign

This is a page from a planner given out to the 3,000 students at Pieter Zandt, a Protestant reformatory school in the Netherlands (click to enlarge):

See anything wrong with it?

Check out that one guy’s shirt. With the peace sign on it. That’s the problem.

Parents complained to the head of the school because they believed the symbol to be a sign of the Antichrist.

Even worse, the school’s chairman agreed and destroyed all of the planners:

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Why Did Israel Alter Science Textbooks at Religious Schools to Remove Aspects of the Female Anatomy?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses a recent decision in Israel to give state-sponsored religious schools censored science books:

You can read more about the issue here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next! [Read more...]

Ask Richard: A Follow-Up Letter from a Teenage Atheist Four Years Later

Dear Richard,

I wrote to you back in 2009 when I was in the 8th grade and you really helped me and I wanted to thank you for that. I just recently rediscovered your blog and I figured I would write to you again. I’m now a senior in high school and in the time since the 8th grade I’ve completely reassessed my faith. For a little while I kept trying to be Christian, and for about a year I was. I feel like that was good for me though. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s a very unwise thing to completely disown one’s faith in middle school. I have, however, come to the conclusion that I am an atheist, and I honestly do not see that changing. I’m just worried about any fallout caused by this, and I don’t quite know how to approach certain situations that I face on a near daily basis. I’m trying to get some answers to questions preemptively in hopes that when I’m faced with these situations (either once again or someday in the future) I will know the best way to handle them.

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