FFRF fights Religious Right in Ohio

FFRF continues to fight proposals in Springboro, Ohio, to promote religion and conservative religious views in public schools.

FFRF’s first letter to Springboro Community City Schools in 2011 warned the district that a proposal to teach creationism wrapped in history to counter the alleged “controversy” around evolution was unconstitutional. The board tabled the plan.

FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote another letter June 4 to School Board President Kelly Kohls about proposed changes to the board’s “Controversial Issues” and “Religious/Patriotic Ceremonies and Observances” policies. Included are gun rights, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, legalization of drugs and evolution/creation.

Kohls, who is also a Warren County tea party activist, told the Dayton Daily News after the June 4 meeting that “We’re going to leave it on first reading for quite a while.” Springboro is a city of about 18,500 people, with about 1,900 students at Springboro High.

Kohls stated earlier that “Creationism is a significant part of the history of this county. It is an absolutely valid theory, and to omit it means we are omitting part of the history of this country.”

Markert wrote another letter June 26 to the board after learning about two proposed summer school courses. The first is a 12-week Constitution course developed by the Institute on the Constitution.

The flier says participants will “learn [their] Godly American heritage and birthright.” David Barton of Wallbuilders and John Eidsmoe of the Foundation for Moral Law in Montgomery, Ala., are the video instructors for this course. Both consistently have stated the false notion that America is a Christian nation.

Barton, a Texan, has been described as a “Christian historical revisionist.” He often teams up with conservative commentator/author Glenn Beck. Eidsmoe is has law and theology degrees and is an ordained pastor in the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations. He’s said publicly that Alabama had “a constitutional right to secede” and that “Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood the Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.” He was “disinvited” from a 2010 tea party rally in Wausau, Wis., because of those statements.

The second course is entitled “The Making of America,” and is organized by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. It’s a daylong seminar scheduled for Aug. 3. The flier says that participants are “invited to help Springboro Schools evaluate this nationally renowned course on the U.S. Constitution.”

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NCCS was founded as the Freeman Institute in Provo, Utah, in 1971, and is based in a farmhouse in Malta, Idaho (pop. 177). Its founder, Cleo Skousen is an extremely conservative Mormon widely known for virulent anti-communism and conspiracy theories. Its website touts the “28 fundamental beliefs of the Founding Fathers,” including “Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained,” “All things were created by God,” “God has revealed a code of divine law,” and “The United States has a manifest destiny to eventually become a glorious example of God’s law under a restored Constitution that will inspire the entire human race.”

The email sent to Springboro families states “Your family will see, hear and learn exciting and unforgettable stories about the founding of our country.”

Markert told the board that the groups presenting the courses have inherently religious messages. “Additionally, the content of these courses are up for scrutiny for factual accuracy. Thus, we urge the board to cancel these summer courses and again urge the board to reject these groups as sponsors of presentation as part of future Constitution Day celebrations.”

Markert added, “It is deeply troubling that despite widespread community opposition to these policies from local residents and taxpayers and groups like the ACLU of Ohio and FFRF, the district would continue to move forward with these presentations of religious propaganda and disinformation at its local schools. We urge you to cancel these courses and reevaluate the policy that requires presentations by these groups for Constitution Day.

“FFRF would like to offer our assistance by making factual presentations on the secular nature of our government and current case law requiring public schools to be free of religious indoctrination. May we hear from you at your earliest convenience?”

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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