FFRF helps to call-off unconstitutional constitution classes in Ohio

A complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation cancelled two constitution classes, to have been based on videos and lessons distributed by right-wing religious groups, which were scheduled to begin this summer in Springboro, Ohio.

News outlets in Springboro reported on July 4 that the school board cancelled the not-so-constitutional constitution classes after action from watchdog organizations like FFRF and outrage from the community.

FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote to Dr. Kelly Kohls, President of the Springboro Community City Schools Board of Education, on June 26, requesting the classes be cancelled or made free of religious indoctrination. Superintendent Kohls is also the president of the local Tea Party.

Organized by the Institute on the Constitution, the class material and video instructors for the 12-week course comes from two right-wing Christian groups that falsely assert the United States is a Christian nation.

One of the instructors for the 12-week course is David Barton, who is not a historian, and has been discredited even by religious conservatives for spreading factual errors and misleading statements. His publisher pulled his latest book from shelves because “basic truths were just not there.”

The National Center for Constitutional Studies, a second right-wing Christian organization planned to put on the other course, a day-long seminar scheduled for August 3.

That organization backs up its propaganda that America is a Christian nation on the Founding Fathers’ choice of national motto of “In God We Trust.” In reality, “In God We Trust” was adopted as a johnny-come lately by Congress in 1956, a product of the McCarthy Era. The original motto — and the one supported by the Founding Fathers — was the secular phrase, “E Pluribus Unum” [Out of Many, One].

“Aside from the obvious religious bent to these presenting organizations, offering these courses is also troubling because much of the history purported by these instructors is inaccurate, false or misleading,” Markert stated.

This is not the first time FFRF fought to keep state and church separate in the Springboro School District. In 2011, FFRF stood up for science when the district considered teaching creationism in the schools.

This June, FFRF reiterated its call to the district to reject policies that will inject religion into the school. One policy, sneaked in under the guise of “controversial issues,” would allow the teaching of creationism.

Another policy would allow religious and political organizations such as NCCS, the Institute for the Constitution, and Hillsdale College — a private Christian school, access to students under the guise of Constitution Day. The policy would also require “In God We Trust” and “With God, All Things Are Possible” be posted throughout the schools in the district.

“These policies violate constitutional principles, particularly under the Establishment Clause, and we urge the Board to reject them,” Markert wrote.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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