***Update***: The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter to the school district.
The Kokomo Tribune, based in Indiana, just ran an unbelievable story about a school district that infuses Christianity into damn near everything they do.
They claim they’re just living out their Christian values — which is legal — and not indoctrinating the students at all… but their actions say something very different.
Here’s a look at reporter Lauren Slagter‘s story about Eastern Howard School Corporation:
[Christian influence is] there in the group of student athletes gathered before school each Wednesday to read the Bible together. It shows up when the elementary school student of the month is recognized for his “strong personal faith” as well as his classroom performance. It’s in the prayers before school board meetings, beginning-of-the-year staff meetings and choir performances.
There’s nothing wrong with students gathering to read the Bible, but faith isn’t a virtue, and the prayers before actual school events is completely over the line.
So is using the Bible as a history textbook:
“The entire premise of the course is that an educated person knows the Bible,” said [Peter] Heck, who is an Eastern graduate and has taught in the district for 12 years. “If we were graduating students from Eastern — or from any school — who were unable to do basic addition or subtraction, everybody would flip out about that. … And yet, we continually in this country and in this state are graduating high school students who don’t have any fundamental basis of understanding the Bible.
His lesson on Judges that day focused on how God used unexpected people to do something profound, and Heck went over the pattern of life for the Israelites during that period in history. Then students were assigned to identify unique characteristics of each judges’ rule.
That is not teaching the Bible as literature, which you could get away with. It’s teaching it as legitimate history.
And then there’s the Christmas program…
The main example [choir teacher Karol] Evenson gave of an opportunity for her to combine her faith with school events is the school’s annual Christmas program, which includes a Nativity re-enactment featuring faculty members. Students also sing secular and religious Christmas songs during the program, which draws a crowd big enough to fill Eastern’s Performing Arts Center each year, Evenson said.
“That is one major thing that’s done at Christmas time where we are singing about the birth of Christ,” she said. “I just get real passionate about that when I’m teaching it, so it allows me to share things. A lot of times, I tell the kids, ‘I’m not asking you to believe, I’m hoping that you do and that you will, but I’m trying to get you to feel the music and what we’re singing about.’ A lot of the kids here do believe it, so when they are singing those pieces, it’s such a blessing for me.”
Evenson gives students the option not to participate in the religious aspects of the Christmas program, and she said one or two students in her three decades of teaching have taken advantage of that option. She also allows students to step aside when she prays with students before every choir show.
“I tell them if they don’t want to do that, they can step into the hallway,” Evenson said. “Before a concert or a show that we do, we always stand in a circle and pray. Most times I lead it, … and sometimes a student will step up to do it.”
What. The. Hell. That’s a textbook example of what public school teachers cannot do.
You might be wondering: How is this going on? How has the district not been sued?
That would require a student or parent willing to speak out and complain — and possibly be a plaintiff in the event of a lawsuit. And when you live in an area where most of the people around you are Christian, you would be risking everything to go against them. It’s just easier to sit down and stay silent — and you can’t blame them for doing so.
But try telling that to Superintendent Tracy Caddell:
He said he has not heard from a family who was put off by the school culture at Eastern.
“I’ve not had that happen,” Caddell said. “I mean really, what is a parent going to say — that we want you to love my child less or show them less compassion?
That’s a line that only makes sense if you equate Christianity with compassion, which I certainly don’t do.
What this district is doing — whether administrators and teachers admit it or not — is promoting Christianity, not “compassion,” as a core part of the curriculum.
It’s absolutely illegal. And maybe thanks to an article the district willingly participated in, it has a chance of coming to a stop.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has been notified.
(Thanks to a student at the school for the link)