Proselytizing history teacher muzzled at Texas high school (September 22, 2014)

Arlington Independent School District in Arlington, Texas, will no longer allow a teacher to proselytize students after a complaint was filed by FFRF.

A concerned parent of a student at James Martin High reported that a teacher, who is also a local pastor, used valuable time during a world history course to proselytize. The teacher told students that the stories of the bible are historical fact and that the the bible is “about the only information we have” about any ancient civilization. The teacher informed the students that the first six weeks of class would rely heavily on “the Hebrew history book.”

The teacher also told the students “carbon dating is wrong,” and posted a portrait of Jesus in the classroom.

The teacher’s u webpage additionally demonstrated blatant intent to teach the bible as historical fact, listing Moses and Jesus as “historical characters.” The webpage included links dubbed “advance training videos,” including the 2009 animated movie The Ten Commandments, which depicts the biblical story of the life of Moses. In the classroom, the teacher reportedly taught how Joseph became a slave in Egypt as if it were part of an accurate historical record and had students reenact a conversation between Moses and the Egyptian pharaoh. During a unit on Egypt, the students extensively covered the “ten plagues” of Egypt.

The teacher also spent parts of multiple class periods complaining about Supreme Court decisions against religious indoctrination in public schools, and how the teacher gets around such prohibitions.

On Sept. 10, FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a strongly-worded letter to the district, explaining why religious indoctrination in public schools is an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause:

“Teachers have access to a captive audience of students due to their position as public educators. The District has a duty to prohibit religious proselytizing by teachers in the classroom.”

The school responded to FFRF on Sept. 16, “AISD takes your letter and its contents seriously, and has begun an investigation.”

On Sept. 22, the complainant informed FFRF that the problematic content was removed from the classroom and that the teacher “has not been proselytizing recently.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation