Christianity-Promoting School District Says It Will Look Into Teacher-Led Prayers and Nativity Re-Enactments February 27, 2015

Christianity-Promoting School District Says It Will Look Into Teacher-Led Prayers and Nativity Re-Enactments

The other day, I posted about the Eastern Howard School Corporation, a school district that was frequently violating the Constitution with its promotion of Christianity.

Even when confronted with the problem, district officials didn’t seem to care. Superintendent Tracy Caddell said of any potential complaints: “I mean really, what is a parent going to say — that we want you to love my child less or show them less compassion?” He wrongly equated Christianity with compassion, and that mindset permeated throughout the district.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation very quickly sent a letter to Caddell. They sidestepped the more ambiguous endorsements of Christianity and zeroed in on the most obvious ones mentioned in Lauren Slagter‘s story about the district:

A misleading quotation on the wall of teacher Peter Heck’s classroom

The article quotes Eastern Jr./Sr. High School choir teacher Karol Evenson about the prayers she conducts with her students before every choir show. “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,” she states. She also notes that the school’s annual Christmas program includes a nativity scene enacted by faculty members.

The article further reveals another Eastern Jr./Sr. High School teacher, Peter Heck, has two religious quotes on the walls of his classroom. A picture of one of the quotes [above], attributed in the article to George Washington, is enclosed. In actuality the quote was neither said nor written by Washington, but is a deliberate corruption of a far less religious letter sent from Washington to the governors of the thirteen states upon disbanding the army, dated June 8, 1783. The final paragraph of the original letter, which is the basis for the quoted language, is not addressed to “Almighty God” and makes no mention of “Jesus Christ our Lord.” In fact, the original is not prayer at all.

So, at the very least, the letter concludes, the district must “prevent Ms. Evenson from praying with her students in the future, instruct its teachers not to enact a live nativity scene at school, and remove religious quotes from the walls of Mr. Heck’s classroom.

On Facebook, the district denied any wrongdoing, but said it would take proper action on the advice of its legal counsel:

Lots of denial on their end, but the real question is what the district’s lawyers will tell them to do. The smart move would be to purge the overt Christianity altogether the same way they would if teachers were promoting Islam or atheism.

But these officials have already shown that good judgment isn’t a value they cherish, so I’m not optimistic they’ll do the right thing.


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