The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking that an Arizona school district immediately halt a teacher’s blatant proselytizing.
A concerned Scottsdale Unified School District student has informed the national state/church watchdog that a teacher at Chaparral High School has been abusing his position to proselytize and impose his religious beliefs on his students. The student reported that the teacher delivered a sermon to students during class time, that he has religious materials posted in his classroom and also told students they need “a loving daily relationship with our Lord and father in heaven” and “to repent of [their] sins.” The teacher also directed students to google “23 minutes in hell” to “learn about the other place.”
The district must make certain that none of its employees is unlawfully and inappropriately indoctrinating students in religious matters by discussing personal religious beliefs, preaching, displaying religious messages or otherwise creating a religious environment in their classrooms, FFRF insists.
“It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a public school may not advance, prefer or promote religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent Scott A. Menzel. “Public schools must remain neutral concerning religion.”
And, FFRF emphasizes, it is not a violation of the free speech rights of teachers when a school district regulates what they teach to students while acting in their official capacities. Teachers have access to a captive audience of students due to their position as public educators. Therefore, the district must regulate religious proselytizing during the school day. Courts have upheld the termination of teachers who violate the principle of separation between church and state.
FFRF is urging that course of action. The teacher should indeed be terminated, and administrators at the school should be reprimanded and reminded of their duties under the law, which FFRF is demanding.
“It’s alarming that there’s so much egregious flaunting of religion happening in a public school system,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor remarks. “This must be stopped at once.”
FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with over 36,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 900 members and a local chapter in Arizona. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.