FFRF ends Georgia teachers’ proselytizing (Jan. 5, 2015)

Elementary school faculty in the Whitfield County School District, Georgia, will no longer teach their young students religion thanks to a letter sent by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

FFRF received a report from a parent whose Antioch Elementary School kindergartener was informed that Christmas was “Jesus’s Birthday” and that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” A project in the child’s class involved making a nativity scene from construction paper while a teacher read students the story of the biblical nativity. When the parent contacted the school to complain, the solution offered was to remove the student “whenever anything religious was brought up,” and to ask the parent what she would to do with the child “when they do activities for Easter.”

Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter to Superintendent Judy Gilreath on December 23, 2014. “Public schools have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion. When District staff assign children the task of making a project depicting a religious story, read students the nativity story, and tell students that Christmas is ‘Jesus’s birthday’ and that Jesus is ‘the reason for the season,’ the District has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message, specifically a Christian message,” wrote Seidel.

Gilreath responded on January 5, explaining that she met with the Antioch principal and “made her aware of the complaint and the legal restrictions concerning teaching of religion in a public school.” She instructed the principal to speak with the teacher who did the nativity project to “make sure she understand she is not to celebrate religious holidays with her students.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation