With schools across the country shifting to online learning, there’s a tremendous opportunity for religious organizations to offer themselves up as solutions to a district’s problems, only to push their propaganda once they get approved. We already see this happening in Pennsylvania.
Now, according to American Atheists, there’s a similar case in Ohio.
It involves the Cincinnati Digital Academy, an online-only school that operates under the umbrella of the Cincinnati Public Schools. The CDA is currently using courses offered by a company called Edgenuity, which is affiliated with a blatantly Christian company called Alpha Omega Publications. That alone wouldn’t be a problem if the curriculum was secular.
But American Atheists’ attorney Geoffrey Blackwell says that’s not the case at all.
Materials obtained by American Atheists show that in multiple courses at multiple grade levels, the curriculum provided by Edgenuity contains explicitly religious content that cannot be justified by Ohio’s Social Studies Learning Standards.
An entire module of third grade Social Studies on “ancient Hebrew culture” is devoted to Bible stories, including Joseph of the Many-Colored Coat and the Tower of [Babel]. Students must recount the story, transcribe a summary, draw a pictorial representation of the tower, and explain Yahweh’s motivations.
In an eighth grade U.S. History class, an Edgenuity instructor teaches Christian theology under the guise of the Great Awakening, uncritically reading sermons that promise eternal suffering for sinners; underlining important phrases like “full of the fire of wrath,” “You hang by a slender thread,” “divine wrath,” and “singe it, and burn it;” and discussing the afterlife and “what God has in store for them if they do not repent of their sins.”
There is obviously educational value in teaching about the Bible and the Great Awakening. But treating the Bible as a history book and reading the sermons of Jonathan Edwards as if he’s telling the truth has no place in the public education system. Save that brainwashing for church.
The letter AA sent to the district offers another example, too:
Another lesson instructs the students to make plant, animal, and human “forms” out of clay and “think about how you feel when you create, and then destroy, each of your forms. How does it feel to bring form out of nothing? How does it feel to create something out of a lump?”
A footnote to that example says: “Hopefully someone is also pointing out to the students attending CDA that humans are animals.”
For now, American Atheists is just asking the district to “remove sectarian material from the curriculum,” assure them that no students are punished for not partaking in the indoctrination, and review the relationship with Edgenuity to make sure religious indoctrination isn’t seeping into the classroom. They’ve also filed a public records request regarding the district’s partnership with Edgenuity.
***Update*** (9/15): American Atheists has updated its press release with this information:
Edgenuity reached out to American Atheists on 9/9/2020, explaining that the undermentioned Grade 8 U.S. History class at Cincinnati Digital Academy contained content from Edgenuity’s Grade 11 American Literature class. American Atheists is continuing to investigate how religious content intended to be studied by 11th graders for the work’s literary and rhetorical dimensions made its way into a middle school U.S. History class
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