Bible, ‘Spirit of the Lord’ on school supply list

'It's supposed to be reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic, not religion.' — FFRF Co-President Dan Barker

A Texas public school math teacher's school supply list sent home with students included the Bible and "the Spirit of the Lord."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national church-state watchdog with 16,000 members and more than 700 in Texas, sent a letter of complaint Aug. 30 to Superintendent Stan Surratt of the Lindale Independent School District and to Principal Vicki Thrasher at Lindale Junior High School on behalf of a concerned parent in Lindale, Texas.

The parent alerted FFRF about math teacher Amy Priddy's inappropriate list for eighth-grade algebra students. Included under "Classroom Expectations" was "Listen: to the Spirit of the Lord, to all instructions. . ." Another expectation is to prepare "your supplies (notebook, textbook, Bible, pencils, graph paper, spiral notebook, red pen, homework, etc.)"

The list imposes the teacher's religious sentiments on her students, and thus is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, noted FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt in her letter.

"Mrs. Priddy’s decision to include 'Listen: to the Spirit of the Lord' and a Bible as classroom expectations distributed to parents and students crosses the line [of state-church separation] because she is endorsing and promoting religion while acting in her official capacity as a school district employee," Schmitt wrote.

(This apparently was the teacher's personal list because the district's supply list online is different.)

"Lindale Independent School District must take appropriate action to stop its teachers from imposing their religious beliefs and practices on their students," Schmitt wrote. "Teachers in your district must be directed to adhere to current law. Please promptly inform us in writing of the steps you are taking to protect the rights of conscience of your students."

"It's supposed to be reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic, not religion," said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. "This algebra teacher needs to be told to calculate the distance between church and state!"

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor added, "The bible claims there is nothing new under the sun. But the bible, as usual, is wrong because this type of brazen violation is new even to us! Whoever heard of the bible being used as a math textbook?

"We think this teacher should certainly know that such behavior is illegal in a public school, and she should be disciplined," Gaylor added. "Students have a right to a safe and secular school environment and to be free from teachers misusing their authority to impose their personal religious views on what is basically a captive audience."

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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