History Curriculum Backed by Bill Gates is Criticized by Creationists for Teaching Accurate History

Bill Gates is one of the forces behind the Big History Project, a free online course spearheaded by historian David Christian that takes high school students through the history of the universe:

By sharing “the big picture” and challenging students to explore the relationship between key events over time, big history ultimately helps young people develop key critical thinking skills and the ability to better synthesize and apply complex information. These are skills vital not only to more advanced, discipline-specific work in the sciences and humanities, but also to help students understand and evaluate individual and collective impact — and potential.

I haven’t gone into the curriculum in depth, but it sounds like a great way to educate students. And the more free, quality resources that there out there, the better.

So guess who’s upset about this project?

Creationist Ken Ham.

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Are Faith-Based Dorms at Public Universities Legal?

Troy University in Alabama has a very religious student body (shocking, I tell you).

So they’re about to open a 376-bed dorm at a cost of $11,800,000 that will give preference to religious students:

The new facility gives preference to students who maintain an active spiritual lifestyle and are actively engaged in a campus faith-based organization.

Residents are required to engage at least semi-annually in a community-service or service-learning project that is tied to a church, such as food or clothing drive.

The building will also house a (Catholic) Newman Center, as well as three Catholic and three Baptist resident assistants.

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Ball State University Clarifies That Intelligent Design is Not Real Science

Ball State University in Indiana has produced the likes of David Letterman, Jim Davis, Joyce DeWitt, and yours truly (to save you the time it takes to scroll down and check on the author, this is Jessica. I assume Hemant probably went to U of I or something) [Hemant's note: I went to U of I in Chicago!]. I had a great experience at BSU — I had amazing professors, met some of my closest friends, studied abroad, read Moby Dick (That’s right. Cover to cover), and, more relevantly, tried on my Outspoken Atheist Hat for the first time. I’ll be honest, that hat took a little breaking in.

And I bring up my alma mater with pride today, because University President Jo Ann Gora recently released a letter saying the following:

Intelligent design is overwhelmingly deemed by the scientific community as a religious belief and not a scientific theory. Therefore, intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses.

Boom.

But let’s see what led up to all of this in the first place.

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Cullman County School District in Alabama Is the Site of Even More Violations of Church/State Separation

Just the other day, I posted about a “prayer caravan” organized by Cullman County Schools (Alabama) Superintendent Billy Coleman. The idea was that he would lead a group of people to all the schools in the district and pray… becauseI guess that raises test scores in Alabama or something. They’ve been doing this for a few years running.

We also learned from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (PDF) that the caravan wasn’t the school’s only violation of the law:

We were also informed that schools in the Cullman County system recite the Lord’s Prayer over the loudspeaker each morning. We understand that an attempt to mask this illegal practice is made by giving students “the option” to participate.

So why bring this all up again?

Because FFRF has learned that they’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violations of church/state separation in the district:

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A Principal Allowed Her to Deliver Bible Readings on School Property Every Morning This Past Spring

I teach at a public high school and the visitor policy works like this: If you’re not a student or staff member, you must sign in at the front desk, show identification, and declare the intent of your visit. Even if a parent is just dropping off lunch for his child, those are the rules. They apply immediately before, during, and immediately after school. I hope it’s obvious that this is all for the safety of the people in the building.

Concord High School in New Hampshire has a similar policy, but one parent was coming on school grounds every morning this past spring (from February onward), was in contact with students as they entered the building, and no one did anything about it. In fact, the principal allowed her to do it.

Why did that happen?

Because the mother, Lizarda Urena, wanted to pray for everybody:

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