Author Topic: FFRF is suing my home county's school district  (Read 1091 times)

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Offline AQB24712

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FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« on: January 20, 2017, 07:20:55 PM »
I am really going to enjoy following this story from the county where I grew up.

FFRF, parent sue to end 75 years of Bible classes in Mercer County, W.Va.

Quote from: FFRF
The bible instruction, taught by itinerant teachers who possess "a degree in Bible," begins in first grade. Classes are held in 15 elementary schools, one intermediate school and three middle schools. The classes meet weekly and last 30 minutes in elementary schools and 45 minutes in middle schools.

Bible indoctrination classes have been taught in Mercer County Schools for more than 75 years. Between 1939 and 1985, the bible classes were designed, financed, administered and staffed by a small group of Mercer County citizens. Following complaints by parents of eight students in 1985, the Mercer County schools took over the instruction in 1986, claiming to follow nine guidelines from the Office of the Attorney General.

Bible in the Schools (BITS) is the organization that teaches the classes.  They never showed up at my school.  Apparently, they go where they're invited (like vampires), and perhaps the parents in my college town were not interested in the program.

The story in the local newspaper, and my own Facebook post, have garnered predictable and mortifying comments from Good Christians who are outraged at this persecution.  (Comments on the paper based in the state capital are more moderate.)

Honestly, I'm a little surprised a lawsuit hasn't happened already—it seems like it's clearly unconstitutional—but maybe it took this long for somebody to get the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  Jane Doe is a brave woman, and I don't blame her for being anonymous.  Her kid will almost certainly, as the suit alleges, be ostracized or bullied as one of few children who don't participate if the suit fails.  The potential post-lawsuit backlash, if it's successful, will be considerable as well. 

SO ANYWAY, first have a look at Bible in the Schools' web site. 
       
Quote from: BITS
Is this a church-operated program?   
    No.  The program is operated by the Mercer County Public Schools.

That's enough for me, right there.  As well as the fact that the classes are taught in school buildings, during the instructional day.

Quote from: BITS
Is this in any way violating separation of Church and State?   
    No.  The Bible is not taught as religion but as history and literature according to the guidelines set by the Supreme Court. 

The guidelines referenced are from the 1963 Abington v. Schempp decision, which ruled 8-1 "school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional."  However, BITS seized upon this section of the decision, which they quote on their web site, insisting that they are not teaching religion or doctrine or biblical interpretation, but history and literature.

Quote from: BITS
It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities.  Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.  (Abington v. Schempp, 374 US 203)

FFRF has obtained, through a FOIA request, some of the BITS curriculum and guidelines.  You can read the whole filing listing some stuff that really made my eyebrows meet my hairline.

Quote from: lawsuit
49. Lesson 1 instructs students to listen to the directions and warnings that are given in the bible and to follow them in their own lives.

50. Lesson 1 says, “This year is so great. We will be studying about the life of Jesus, which is so exciting, and we will see the signs and warnings He gave to help the people.”

Quote from: lawsuit
52. Lesson 2 advocates for creationism and a belief that animals were created as stated in the bible rather than by natural processes. Lesson 2 states, “Moses was saying that when a dolphin had a little baby --- it didn’t have a baby octopus. It had a baby dolphin that was like itself. When a shark had a baby ---- it didn’t have a baby eagle or a baby sea turtle — the shark had a baby shark that was like itself.”

53. Creationism instruction in Lesson 2 includes having students imagine that human beings and dinosaurs existed at the same time. Lesson 2 says, “So picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur! He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!”

Wait, what?!  History and literature, my sweet round ass.

Quote from: lawsuit
40. Participation in the bible classes is said to be “voluntary” by Mercer County Schools. The overwhelming majority of students participate in bible classes.

41. District policy requires reasonable alternatives for students who opt out of the bible classes.

42. Upon information and belief, students at many schools have not been receiving alternative instruction.

Some commenters have noted that because it's "optional," the kid can sit out and there will be no problem.  Given the vitriol they're spewing ("If you don't like our religion, you can leave"), I find this a bit rich.

Read, enjoy, comment, join me on this ride.  :munch:
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2017, 07:25:38 PM »
Kind of amazing they have gotten away with this for so long?

Offline AQB24712

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2017, 07:33:27 PM »
Kind of amazing they have gotten away with this for so long?

It kind of is, even in the heart of Appalachia.  From 1936 to 1985, it was essentially circuit riders preaching in the schools, and when parents complained, the school board didn't say "hey y'all, take it outside, you can't do that here," they took control of the program!  They were given "guidelines" by the state's attorney general ("history and literature"), and have been contorting themselves ever since to claim that's what they're teaching. 

Yeah, the school board blew it 30 years ago, and now those chickens are circling the roost.

I bought a digital subscription to the Charleston Gazette-Mail (the capital city's newspaper) so I could follow this; their coverage will be much better, and much less biased, than that of the local Bluefield Daily Telegraph (aka the Daily Rag).

This is BIG DOINS Y'ALL.
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Online Friendly Angel

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2017, 08:19:00 PM »
Haven't I read about these guys already being lawsuited out of other school districts?
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Online Desert Fox

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2017, 09:45:42 PM »
The funny thing is that they never really teach the bible because the bible is the best book for creating atheists if people actually understand it. 
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2017, 10:44:20 AM »
I'm a strong advocate for teaching comparative religions in school. Kids should be taught about all the major world religions, with at least some coverage of the smaller religions. Each section should include presentations by a follower of the religion (if available), and a critical scholar, as well as reading translations of the original source material (where available).

Preaching of just one religion in school is a clear violation of the separation of church and state. But preaching would be acceptable as one small segment for each religion in a program that included all religious traditions.
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Offline Enkidu Shamesh

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2017, 01:06:14 PM »
Yeah, I'd be fine if it wasn't giving preference. Like, sure have a priest or a reverend come in and give a sermon, but you also need to have a rabbi, a mullah, a Wiccan priestess, a Hindu cleric, a Humanist, hell someone from a local atheist group even. Set a week aside for each religion.

Of course, you could do a different Christian denomination every day of the school year for a full 12 years and not run out of Christian denominations - I could definitely see them monkeying with it that way.

Online Ah.hell

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2017, 01:22:46 PM »
I'm a strong advocate for teaching comparative religions in school. Kids should be taught about all the major world religions, with at least some coverage of the smaller religions.
I would agree except I dont trust american schools to teach it appropriately.

Add me to the list of "What took so long?"

Offline Nosmas

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2017, 02:09:48 PM »
The funny thing is that they never really teach the bible because the bible is the best book for creating atheists if people actually understand it.

I've always found that to be funny. I remember in grade school having religion class and learning about Christianity and what they believe (we never learned about anything but Christianity despite it being religion class). I thought it was odd that in social studies, science, geography etc. I would have to read the text books as homework or we read it in class. Yet in what was basically Christianity class we never read anything longer than a few sentences from the bible and were never assigned reading from it despite it being THE book to represent the topic.
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Offline Shibboleth

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2017, 12:28:20 PM »
It will be inter interesting to follow. For the most part I am not a fan of the FFRF but this is a worthy one to take to court.
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Offline PANTS!

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2017, 05:50:39 PM »
Interesting.  I feel sorry for the kids caught in the middle.
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Offline AQB24712

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2017, 10:49:00 PM »
Interesting.  I feel sorry for the kids caught in the middle.

The Christian kids who go to the program or the kids who don't go to the program?


The fairly useless local news posted this content-lite story.

On the Facebook link to said story, I commented thus.

Quote
The program should not take place on school property, during the instructional day, and be administered by the school district. That's a pretty clear constitutional violation.

Go back to having it administered by a church coalition, as it was until the mid-1980s, and have it take place outside of school hours—and follow whatever rules the district has for allowing community groups to use school property after hours. Then it's fine.

I cannot make heads or tails out of this response to my comment.

Quote
If this is the truly the case - then Ms. Doe needs to find another way. Why? Aethists believe God doesn't exist nor that the bible offers any moral, educational, and historical or creative and humane values. Their religion/belief is there is no God. How can her defense of beliefs/religion be used as a valid basis for a lawsuit that goes against church and state too? Is this not using the state to make her church plea be known also? How can this lawsuit be a separation of church and state when she is using the state to promote her beliefs? Isn't this the religion activity she is trying to stop in the schools? Doesn't that make her a hypocrite or having double standards to her own beliefs? To use the state as an outlet to justify her beliefs versus others?
"There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind."  Kurt Vonnegut
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Offline Caffiene

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2017, 11:21:06 PM »
I cannot make heads or tails out of this response to my comment.

Quote
If this is the truly the case - then Ms. Doe needs to find another way. Why? Aethists believe God doesn't exist nor that the bible offers any moral, educational, and historical or creative and humane values. Their religion/belief is there is no God. How can her defense of beliefs/religion be used as a valid basis for a lawsuit that goes against church and state too? Is this not using the state to make her church plea be known also? How can this lawsuit be a separation of church and state when she is using the state to promote her beliefs? Isn't this the religion activity she is trying to stop in the schools? Doesn't that make her a hypocrite or having double standards to her own beliefs? To use the state as an outlet to justify her beliefs versus others?

tl;dr: "The courts are the state and Atheism is a church too; using the courts to stop religious education in schools is using the state to push the church of atheism ... separation of church and state nyah nyah you cant touch me etc"
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Offline Smooth

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2017, 09:38:02 AM »
Decades of election winning regressive anti science ideology are yielding very bitter fruit.

Online arthwollipot

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Re: FFRF is suing my home county's school district
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2017, 06:19:34 PM »
Isn't there, like, some kind amendment or something that prevents this sort of thing?

 

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