A Wisconsin-based organization known for their pursuit of separation of church and state has clashed again with an East Texas School district.
In a Thursday press release, the group stated they were able to get a Nacogdoches high school to “discontinue religious propaganda movies.” The move stems from two movies school staff members allegedly showed at Central Heights High School.
Teachers at the school reportedly showed “God’s Not Dead” and Expelled: Intelligence Not Allowed.” The organization said the movies blatantly proselytize for Christianity. The Freedom From Religious Foundation was contacted by a student about the films.
In a May 19 letter to Superintendent Bryan Lee, an attorney representing the organization called for immediate action.
“We write to ask that the District take immediate action by investigating these claims and by ensuring that its employees do not use the classroom to proselytize.”
The school responded on May 26 stating the teachers were operating under legal and local policies to create discussion of religious ideas and outlined the district’s policy.
“The District shall address controversial topics an impartial and objective manner. Teachers shall not use the classroom to transmit personal beliefs regarding political or sectarian issues. Students and educators shall ensure that, to the extent possible, discussions are conducted fairly and courteously. “
According to the District, they determined both teachers were in compliance with their policies.
FFRF then responded on June 16 and claimed the “religious films” had no educational merit and could not be justified. They closed the letter with a request for action.
“We agree with Superintendent Lee’s statement that the established Board Policies take “a hard stance against ‘proselytizing’ by its teachers in the classroom.” We ask that the school district take action to enforce those policies and ensure that Central Heights employees do not proselytize their students in the future.
On July 12, the school issued a response through their lawyer stating the school district, as requested, will continue and have been training their staff on Establishment Clause issues.
“We are glad that the district is going to enforce its policies and stop miseducating its captive audience,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “However, the onus shouldn’t be on us to remind school districts about their constitutional obligations.”