Maybe a high school teacher who promoted an after-school Bible Club that he sponsored wouldn’t be the subject of much controversy. He shouldn’t do it, but it’s nothing a quick email reprimand from an administrator couldn’t take care of.
But what’s happening in Stockton, California absolutely crosses the line:
We understand that [New Vision High School teacher John] Alameda not only sponsors the club but also shares his Christian beliefs during school hours and frequently encourages his students to attend the club’s meetings. Furthermore, he offers extra credit for copying Bible verses and gives students “Bible Cookies” as a reward for completing class assignments.
That letter was sent about a week ago, quietly, by Americans United for Separation of Church and State — there’s no mention of it on their website — but it appears to have hit the local media.
What Alameda is doing is clearly illegal, it would never be accepted if he was anything but Christian, and it’s hard to believe he’s ignorant of how problematic this is. But the whole controversy can be put to rest if he simply promises to stop with the understanding that his job would be terminated if he doesn’t comply.
Indeed, that’s all AU is asking for:
… please ensure that Mr. Alameda and all other school employees refrain from using their official positions to promote religion in any manner, including by pressuring students to join religious clubs.
It’s not much to ask for and the district should be grateful its getting off easy.
So far, though, there’s no indication of how they’ll respond.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Richard for the link)