Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No. 6 August 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

State/Church Bulletin: August 2010

‘Anointing’ teacher resigns in Virginia

An unidentified fifth-grade teacher at Jacox Elementary in Norfolk, Va., resigned after it came out she was anointing students and their desks, WAVY-TV reported July 15:
Interim Superintendent Michael Spencer sent a memo to the School Board: “The teacher admitted that she had rubbed ‘holy oil’ on students and their desks during the school day. She was immediately removed from the classroom, and she resigned as of June 30.”

Court rejects ‘mark of the beast’ claim

When Darrell Hill applied to work as a registered nurse at Promise Hospital in Phoenix, he refused to list his Social Security number because he said it was “the mark of the beast.” He sued after he wasn’t hired, alleging federal laws requiring him to furnish the number violated the Establishment Clause.
An Arizona federal district court rejected Hill’s claim July 7 on sovereign immunity grounds and said the government’s action didn’t interfere with Hill’s employment opportunities.

Court upholds firing for anti-creationism

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals threw out a suit by a Texas Education Agency employee who was fired for forwarding an e-mail critical of teaching creationism in public schools.

Christina Castillo Comer’s suit challenged the constitutionality of the agency’s neutrality policy. In 2007 she sent an e-mail detailing a presentation called “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse” to 36 science teachers in the Austin area and leaders of science teacher groups and was later fired.

“The fact that Comer and other TEA employees cannot speak out for or against possible subjects to be included in the curriculum ­— whether the considered subjects relate to the study of mathematics, Islamic art, creationism, chemistry or the history of the Christian Crusades — their silence does not primarily advance religion, but rather, serves to preserve TEA’s administrative role in facilitating the curriculum review process for the board,” Judge Fortunato Benavides wrote for the three-judge panel.

Bus driver: No rides to Planned Parenthood

A former bus driver has sued a nine-county Texas public transit system for firing him after he refused to drive two women to a Planned Parenthood clinic in January.
Edwin Graning, an ordained Christian minister, was “concerned that he might be transporting a client to undergo an abortion,” the Austin American-Statesman reported July 16. He’s represented by the American Center for Law & Justice.

He alleges his supervisor responded to his refusal by saying, “Then you are resigning.”

Six Flags sued by Muslim families

A lawsuit filed in June by two Muslim families alleges security guards at Six Flags amusement park in Upper Marlboro, Md., threatened two youths with Mace, held them for an hour and asked “if they believed in God” and assaulted them in the parking lot.

Ahmad Al-Momani, Hussein Tafour and their families are suing for assault and battery, false imprisonment and negligent hiring, Courthouse News Service reported.

The families seek $3 million in compensatory damages and $9 million in punitive damages for each boy, alleging negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery.

Army’s religious emblem challenged

State-church separationist Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation had this to say June 15 in the Colorado Springs Gazette: “Our message to the Army is: See you in court.”
Weinstein said he will sue to get a religious motto removed at Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital. The emblem includes a spiked Latin cross and the words Pro Deo et Humanitate ­— For God and Humanity.

He said 42 Fort Carson soldiers have complained about the emblem.

Weinstein, of Albuquerque, N.M., is a 1977 Air Force Academy graduate who founded MRFF in 2005.

“This continues to add more fodder to the argument that we are Crusaders,” Weinstein said. “It’s exactly what fundamentalist Muslims want.”

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