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Tennessee Public School Agrees to Halt Religious Proselytization in Science Class

September 19, 2018

For Immediate Release

 

Contact:

Sarah Henry, (202) 238-9088, shenry@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, (202) 238-9088, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

 

(Washington D.C., September 19, 2018) – The American Humanist Association (AHA) legal team has received written assurances from Bedford County Schools, TN that appropriate action will be taken in response to the AHA’s September 12, 2018 letter concerning Biblical proselytization in the science curriculum. The letter warned the district that a science teacher’s frequent presentation of Biblical creationism as scientific fact and attribution of natural phenomena to “God” violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

 

On September 17, the school district responded, stating that they had investigated the matter and would continue to monitor the situation and make necessary corrections.  The response, however, also stated that the teacher was reminded of the importance “to remain neutral and present all sides.”

 

In a follow-up letter sent that day, Monica Miller, senior counsel for the American Humanist Association, clarified that a teacher cannot “present all sides” as scientific fact when one of those sides is Biblical, young-earth creationism. “The Supreme Court and circuit courts have been clear that teaching creationism in public schools violates the Establishment Clause,” Miller stressed. “This includes presenting creationism as an ‘alternative’ to evolution.”

 

Yesterday, the district responded thanking the AHA for the clarification and assuring the AHA that district teachers and principals would be warned accordingly. While the American Humanist Association is pleased with the district’s diligent response, as well as the promise to take appropriate action, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center will continue to monitor the situation to ensure full compliance with the constitutional mandate of church state separation.

 

The September 12, 2018 letter can be viewed here.

 

The September 17, 2018 follow-up letter can be viewed here.

 

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The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans, including almost 600 members in Tennessee. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

 

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

 

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