FFRF halts teacher from showing “The Bible” in class (April 28, 2014)

Atlanta High School in Atlanta, Texas, will no longer allow episodes from the series “The Bible” to be played during class.

A concerned student reported that an economics teacher aired episode six of the series, which depicts the “virgin” birth of Jesus, Jesus’ Baptism by John the Baptist, and the angel Gabriel telling Mary she is pregnant with “the Son of God.”

When the student complained to the teacher in question, saying he didn’t feel “The Bible” was appropriate to play during an economics class, the teacher called the TV show “factual.” Later, the student confronted the teacher again, who said that that “he would continue showing [The Bible] all week, and if [the student] wanted to go to a different classroom because of [the student’s] beliefs that would be fine.”

As a result, the student missed a weeks’s worth of economics classes, having been cast out of his classroom while the teacher continued showing biblical videos.

FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a letter to the school’s superintendent explaining why the situation is illegal, unacceptable and an especially egregious violation:

“It is not a violation of the free speech rights of teachers when a school district regulates what they teach to students during the school day. Teachers have access to a captive audience of students due to their position as public educators. Atlanta Independent School District has a duty to prohibit religious proselytizing by teachers in the classroom.”

On April 22, Superintendent Roger Hailey informed Grover that “[The Teacher] has agreed to apologize to your complainant and has been instructed to align his instruction with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Standards (TEKS) established by the Texas Legislature for the subjects he teaches.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation