BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A Washington-based humanist organization is taking a Texas teacher to task who allegedly has a Christian cross in her elementary school classroom and at times references God to her students.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) sent a letter on Thursday to the superintendent of the Brownsville Independent School District and the principal of Benavides Elementary School in an effort to put a stop to what it calls “proselytizing” in the classroom.
The correspondence specifically refers to a third grade teacher only identified as Ms. Sanroman, who reportedly has a one-foot cross sitting on a shelf in her room. Sanroman is also being accused of recently telling students that no one is perfect except for One, and that is “our Lord.”
A parent, whose name AHA did not disclose, complained about Sanroman to the organization.
“This kind of religious activity is of great concern to the atheist-humanist family in question, which expects public schools to educate children without attempts at religious indoctrination,” the group wrote in the letter.
“Obviously, expressly promoting belief in ‘our Lord’ as the only perfect person, while simultaneously displaying a Christian cross, must be perceived as an endorsement of that religious view, especially when none others are made available,” it said.
AHA asserts that it has received reports about other schools in the district as well, and has given officials seven days to respond, “acknowledging the errors here and assuring that they will be corrected.”
“The Establishment Clause demands religious neutrality from all government employees, including teachers, while on the job,” David Niose, AHA legal director, said in a statement. “Non-Christian students and their families should not have to put up with Christian proselytizing in what should be a secular public school.”
As previously reported, in 1647, the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed “The Old Deluder Satan Act,” which required that children be taught to read so they could learn to read the Bible.
“In being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, … and that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers in Church and Commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors, it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof, that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall then forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read,” it read in part.
The first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in public and private schools alike until approximately the early 1900’s. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.
“Save me, O God, from evil all this day long, and let me love and serve Thee forever, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son,” it read.
Many of the Founders’ children learned to read from the primer.