The Freedom From Religion Foundation is objecting to proposals in Springboro, Ohio, that appear to promote religion under the guise of controversial issues and patriotic ceremonies.
FFRF, a Madison, Wis.-based state/church watchdog, is concerned that the policies are a ploy to inject religion into what the school dubs "controversial issues." These issues include "pro-life/abortion," "contraception/abstinence" and "evolution/creation."
In 2011, FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote a letter to the district successfully opposing an overt resolution to promote creationism.
The school board tabled the resolution at that time, but it appears to have been reborn in a new form.
Markert sent a letter on June 4 to the Board of Education: "As outlined to the Board in 2011, public schools are prohibited from teaching creationism or 'intelligent design.' Courts have routinely found that such teachings are religious and unconstitutional. Given the history of attempts by the Board to inject creationism religious teachings into the school, curriculum, it is unlikely any court would find Policy 2240 constitutional. We ask to Board to reject such an irresponsible proposal to include religious dogma into the curriculum."
At the Board's meeting on June 4, during which this proposal was discussed, Kelly Kohls, Board President and also the head of the Warren County tea party, told the Dayton Daily News, "I want to allow that discussion to happen. We're going to leave it on first reading for quite a while."
Kohls has stated in her own words that, "Creationism is a significant part of the history of this county. It is an absolutely valid theory and to omit it means we are omitting part of the history of this country."
A teacher, librarian and union representative commented, "None of the teachers have been talked to about this. Please leave it out of the science classroom."
The second policy contains guidelines for religious/patriotic ceremonies and observances which are also unconstitutional provisions. These include moments of silence, discussion of religion in the classroom, U.S. and Ohio state mottoes posted in district schools, and Constitution Day. Ironically, Constitution Day would be a pretext to invite a private religious college to promote a religious perspective.
Markert adds, "There is no place in a public school for religious messages. Displaying these religious messages in a public school is particularly concerning as it creates and association between faith in a god and patriotism. This message alienates non-believers, turns them into outsiders of their community, and usurps parental authority. It is the right of parents to discuss their faith or non-belif with their own children in ways they find appropriate."
FFRF is urging the district to reject these policies currently under consideration.
-By Lauryn Seering