Church-State Separation Group, Methodist Minister, Sue School for ‘Pushing Religion on Students’

School-Bible-pdMESA, Ariz. — A nationally-recognized church-state separation group has sued an Arizona charter school on behalf of a United Methodist minister and an offended parent for allegedly “pushing religion on students” by using curriculum that includes text favorable of Christianity.

As previously reported, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), led by Barry Lynn, an attorney who is also ordained in the United Church of Christ, sent a letter last September to Earl Taylor, Jr., the principal of Heritage Academy, which has campuses in Mesa, Gateway and Leveen, to demand that the school cease referencing Christianity in its government class.

While the organization asserted that the academy’s government class is “anchored heavily in religion,” it specifically and especially took issue with the use of a textbook called “Proclaim Liberty Throughout all the Land,” published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies, which is led by Taylor.

The book, AU says, cites the divine Creator, biblical law and judgment following death.

“[T]here [is] but one eternal and unchangeable law [that] will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge,” it reads, citing the ancient Roman orator Marcus Cicero.

The publication also explains the faith of the Founding Fathers, that they “did not look upon God as some mysterious teleological force operating automatically and indifferently in nature,” but believed “that their Creator was both intelligent and benevolent and therefore anxious and capable of responding to” their prayers.

But Taylor did not pull the textbook during the 2015-2016 school year, as he explained that he is not seeking to convert students, but to only cite how “religion influenced what the Founders did.”

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AU consequently filed suit against Taylor and Heritage Academy on Sept. 7, alleging that the entities are violating the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution. The organization is suing on behalf of an unidentified parent whose child attends the school, and David Felten, the pastor of the United Methodist congregation known as The Fountains.

“Felten is offended by and objects to the expenditure of his tax dollars to support the provision of religious instruction by Taylor and Heritage Academy to public-school students,” the legal complaint reads.

It alleges that the school required students to memorize “28 principles” and to recite them before the class, and encouraged them to share the concepts with others outside of school.

The principles included: “Men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” “To protect man’s rights, God has revealed certain principles of divine law,” and “All things were created by God, therefore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent, and to Him they are equally responsible.”

“Heritage Academy and its principal, Defendant Taylor, are advancing religious beliefs and mandates by instructing students that they should obey and implement laws given by God in order to lead a happy life and have a prosperous country,” the lawsuit alleges.

“The religious instruction at Heritage Academy results in excessive entanglement of government with religion, coerced religious instruction, and endorsement by the state of religion over nonreligion and of a particular religion and religious viewpoint over others,” it says.

AU and its complainants are seeking a declaratory judgment that the school violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and have requested an injunction against the further use of “religious material” at Heritage Academy. If the school continues to teach students about religion, AU requests that the Department of Administration be prohibited from providing taxpayer funding.

The complainants are also seeking to collect an unspecified amount for damages.

“Plaintiffs are harmed, intimidated, and distressed by the Heritage Academy Defendants’ endorsement and promotion of religious views, which Plaintiffs believe should not be taught in public schools, and by the use of Plaintiffs’ tax dollars to fund that endorsement and promotion of religious views,” the lawsuit asserts.

As previously reported, in 1839, Noah Webster, known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, said, “Practical truths in religion, in morals, and in all civil and social concerns ought to be among the first and most prominent objects of instruction. Without a competent knowledge of legal and social rights and duties, persons are often liable to suffer in property or reputation, by neglect or mistakes.”

“Without religious and moral principles deeply impressed on the mind, and controlling the whole conduct, science and literature will not make men what the laws of God require them to be,” he continued. “And without both kinds of knowledge, citizens cannot enjoy the blessings which they seek, and which a strict conformity to rules of duty will enable them to obtain.”

Webster, a schoolmaster, wrote America’s first dictionary in 1828, which often cited Christianity and the Bible.


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  • Michael C

    Tax dollars shouldn’t be spent to further the Mormon religion in schools.

    • Amos Moses

      Yeah …. but they spare no expense to teach them other religions …… like Yoga and TM and “mindfulness” ….. this is all religion by another name …… and in fact a-theism or even secularism is just religion by another name ………… so it come down to what worldview is going to be taught …………

      • james blue

        Atheism is a religion like bald is a hairstyle.

        • Amos Moses

          Exactly …… atheism has nothing to offer but theft from others worldview ….. just like a bad comb over …… atheism can explain nothing accept that it steals from others ………

          • james blue

            Atheism is the disbelief in the existence of any deity, nothing else. That’s it, that’s all there is, there is nothing else beyond that. It makes no attempt to “explain” anything.

          • Amos Moses

            Yep …… and it explains nothing ………….. and the only way for them to explain anything ….. is to steal from religion …. and since they steal from religion then all they have as a worldview is RELIGION ……….

            “It makes no attempt to “explain” anything.”

            then why are they here CONSTANTLY trying to EXPLAIN things that they cannot EXPLAIN ……

          • Jenny Ondioline

            Like what?

          • Amos Moses

            lets just stick to the basics …..what coherent and consistent worldview do they hold that explains evil or good …….

          • Michael C

            You’re …… the one who is ……. saying that atheists steal ……. their …… “worldview” from the reli ….. gio …..u ……s.

            How is ….. it that you think ….. atheists explain …..evil or good?

          • Jenny Ondioline

            I’m not sure what you mean. They’re only homosexuals, they aren’t murderers.

          • Amos Moses

            well actually, yes, they are murderers ……… but the question was in reference to a-theism ………..

          • james blue

            What are they “stealing” from religion?

          • Amos Moses

            basically ……….. everything ……… their entire worldview ……. they cannot explain evil and good or morality or even use science ….. even science comes from a religious background …

          • james blue

            If you do not know good from bad, right from wrong without it being explained to you, what you lack is empathy, not religion. How can they not use science?

          • Amos Moses

            i did not say they do not know good from bad, right from wrong …………. i said they cannot explain it from their worldview …. and they cannot in any coherent and consistent manner ……. no empathy required ………………. and BTW, empathy comes from religion ….

          • james blue

            They explain it with “empathy”. Empathy does not come from religion.

          • Amos Moses

            they cannot explain from where empathy comes …… they have no basis to even determine from where it comes in any coherent and consistent manner ……….

          • james blue

            Human nature.

            Throughout history men of religion have had no empathy to their fellow man, take human sacrifice, take witch burning.

          • Amos Moses

            that is the a-theist worldview …… it is not the christian worldview ……. you want to lump all religion together ……. sorry …… there were 20 witches burned …… so if that is all you have ….. if that is your best number ….. then fail …… the a-theist death toll is in the billions ……… and there should be no complaint about that …… that is the worldview they have chosen ….. and you still have not answered the question ……

            what is the a-theist worldview that explains empathy in any coherent and consistent basis …. attacking religion ….. that does not answer the question …………

          • james blue

            So now you are separating Atheist “world view” from religion after claiming they stole it? You were the one who used “religion”.
            There were more than 20 “witches” killed, but killing in the name of God wasn’t limited to just witches and you know it.

          • Amos Moses

            the reason that it is a religious worldview is because they cannot explain the world in any coherent manner and so they have to steal from others religious view ……. and then they deny that they do that ……

            The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. The trials resulted in the executions of twenty people, fourteen of them women, and all but one by hanging. Five others (including two infant children) died in prison.

          • james blue

            What about the world are they unable to explain?

          • Amos Moses

            again …. good and evil, morality, or even use science … well that is a misstatement …. they can use science ….. but the reason they can use science …. how we have a world that allows science to even be used …. they have no coherent and consistent explanation …….

          • james blue

            Just saying that means nothing, explain WHY they cannot explain and how they can’t use science?

          • Amos Moses

            scripture gives an exact account of why men are what they are …… devoid of God, the a-theist has no explanation …………. they cannot explain it from their worldview in any consistent and coherent manner ……….. science comes from GOD ….. they cannot understand it properly to use it …… devoid of God their observations are fundamentally flawed ………………….

          • james blue

            Already given the answer, human nature and empathy. The ability to think,

          • Amos Moses

            Nope ….. that is not an explanation ……… “human nature” is not an explanation ………. WHY is “human nature” what it is …. THAT is an explanation ………….. you cannot even get to “empathy” until, devoid of God, you can explain that ….. because scripture DOES ……………. and coherently and consistently …………

          • james blue

            The ability to think

          • Amos Moses

            which comes from where ………… it has no probative value …….. animals can think and reason to a degree ……… explain where that comes from in a coherent and consistent manner ….. or it means nothing ………

          • Amos Moses

            FYI, “human nature” does not explain anything ….. unless you can explain how, devoid of God, what that is ….. and you cant …………

          • james blue

            characteristics which humans have naturally, independent of culture.

            Seeing as humans of old before the influence of other cultures tended to have different beliefs independent of each culture I would say that most Gods were man made so to speak.

          • Amos Moses

            again …. you are giving a definition of “human nature” ….. you are not explaining what it is or how it came about …….. and i would also say that most gods are man-made and that they are gods and not Gods ….. but man was made by God ………..

          • james blue

            Empathy came about by experiencing.

            Who is to say our God isn’t man made? I only have faith he exists, I cannot prove it.

          • Amos Moses

            “Empathy came about by experiencing.”

            what experience ………. what experiment can you do to even show that to be true ….. there is none ….. you cannot prove empathy in any way … how is it measured ….. what does it look like that you would even know ….. devoid of God … how would you even know it …….. and for you to even say “Who is to say our God isn’t man made?” shows you do not have faith or believe ……….

          • james blue

            If you have no food and are hungry you will know what hunger feels like, how horrible it is. When you have food and see someone without food you will empathize.

          • Amos Moses

            sure …. but how is it measured ……… you cannot measure if one person is hungrier than another …….. and it means nothing ……….. and that is not empathy …….. in the a-theist view …. if i am hungry … and there is no God ….. i can kill you for your food or AS FOOD ……. where is the empathy …. or i can make you a slave to get me food …… where is the empathy ….. devoid of God ….. that is all the answers the a-theist has ………. that is their worldview ………..

          • james blue

            That has to be the dumbest thing I have read on any forum ever. You actually think Atheists believe they can kill you to eat you?

            Erm Are you saying that the slave owners where not Christians and were devoid of God? They used the bible to justify owning slaves, so where is your “religion gives us empathy argument there”?

          • Amos Moses

            if they hold a consistent and coherent worldview …… YES …. but as i said …. they do not …. they steal their worldview from others …… because they have no consistent and coherent worldview …………..

            “Are you saying that the slave owners where not Christians and were devoid of God?”

            at best they used scripture to justify the unjustifiable ………… so yes ……….. devoid of God …. yes …. they followed a different god of their own making ……..

          • Edward MacGuire

            Observations, experiments and fossil evidence show that not only humans but other apes, monkeys and pre-humans all show empathy and altruism.
            -Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals
            -Monkeys Show Empathy New French Study: Science/Health
            -Bonobo Monkeys Feel Empathy Too : Nature World News
            -the first Homo erectus skeleton KNM-ER 1808

            The last example is from a 1.5 million year old homo erectus who died from hypervitaminosis A caused by eating carnivore liver . This disease results in severe pain and all the bones in the body are distorted and deformed. This individual’s bones had begun healing when he died which is convincing evidence that he was cared for by other members of his group since he would have been completely helpless and unable to get food or water or to protect himself.

            Empathy and altruism do not come from religion.

          • Amos Moses

            fine ……….. explain where it comes from then …… and this ……. “Observations, experiments and fossil evidence show that not only humans but other apes, monkeys and pre-humans all show empathy and altruism.” …. does not explain from where it comes ……….

          • Edward MacGuire

            Obviously it is because empathy and altruism gives higher mammals a survival advantage, and this has been extensively studied and documented. Jared Diamond and Franz de Waal’s various books show, in regards to human and animal society, how these things benefit and make us successful. Darwinian selection.

          • Amos Moses

            obviously you are trying to anthropomorphize animal behavior ……… and it is flawed ….. and it is no explanation as to its origin ….. no matter how “extensively studied and documented” …. it is just anthropomorphization …….

          • Edward MacGuire

            We are animals. Mammals. Anthropomorphization is a term from 50 years ago when it was considered non-scientific to describe animal behaviour in human terms. We know better now.

          • Amos Moses

            No … we are not animals … and if that is all you think you are ….. then you are only entitled to what animals are entitled ………….

            “Anthropomorphization is a term from 50 years ago when it was considered non-scientific to describe animal behaviour in human terms. We know better now.”

            apparently not …………..

          • Edward MacGuire

            “No … we are not animals … ”

            Good luck defending that premise.

          • Amos Moses

            nothing to defend ….. it is up to you to prove it otherwise …………

          • Edward MacGuire

            Not really. There are hundreds of thousands of profesionals working in biology worldwide, 80,000 in the U.S. alone. List the ones that think humans are not animals, specifically mammals. If you think science is wrong, fine, but the burden of proof is on you, not on those who accept the evidence of science.

          • Amos Moses

            ” hundreds of thousands of profesionals working in biology worldwide, 80,000 in the U.S. alone.”

            numbers have nothing to do with whether they are right ……….. and they are not ……. truth is not a democracy nor determined by a vote or how many believe ……………. or even if none believe ………

          • Chet

            It asserts oneself as his own god…

          • james blue

            No, because it denies the existence of any God, so God would be a concept only.

          • Chet

            Okay, play on words. The atheist declares oneself is boss and final authority, thus god, bottom line…

  • Reason2012

    Google public school islam and see how islam is taught in more and more schools and this group does NOTHING about, kids are even taken on trips to mosques and made to dress like muslims, which shows this is nothing about anti-Christianity, not any sort of Constitution violation, but a flat out attack on Christianity here in America.

    • BW

      Name a specific school that does this.

      • Reason2012

        Before I do, are you claiming you searched and could not find a single case?

        • BW

          Yes, I couldn’t find anything that was unconstitutional that AU would get involved in, except for the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy case from 2009, where the ACLU filed a lawsuit, and AU has written about, which was settled in the ACLU’s favor.

          So if you DO know of any public schools unlawfully promoting Islam (or any other religion), name them so groups like AU and the ACLU can follow up on them.

    • Grace Kim Kwon

      The Muslim population may bring religious freedom in the politically “correct” secular nations. Everyone should see secularism’s cowardice and double standard.

  • NWaff

    The name says it all – “Americans United for Separation”

    • Grace Kim Kwon

      America’s sense of fairness has become a disaster when it started to treat the unequal Christianity as one of many. Now public schools are forced to install all kinds of evil upon the children. America cannot be good apart from Christianity, as man is nothing apart from his sane conscience.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    This Methodist minister is an atheist and nothing of Christianity. USA is meaningless and hollow apart from Christianity. Only something evil fills vacant USA as it does with vacant persons. Americans are tricked to think their own goodness had it all from the beginning because sacrificial Christians created the nation by Christian principles from the very beginning. No random big bang, but an intentional structured creation for everything including the universe and Israel and USA. American children need Christianity for the truth, salvation, and proper moral instructions and historic knowledge. Amorality is evil and never neutral. Secular Americans hate Christianity because secularism is evil and Christianity is good.

    • Michael C

      This is a Mormon textbook.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Then they should have said, “Pushing Mormonism on students” is wrong. Absense of religion means Sodomic chaos. Pushing amorality on students is wrong. Secularism is a particular philosophy; it should not govern anyone.

  • Chet

    Aw Barry, go pack sand and leave the Holy Bible and those revering it alone…