Wednesday, June 06, 2007

More On Virginia Teachers Refusing To Send Atheist Camp Flyers Home With The Kids

From the Institute for Humanist Studies: an interesting follow-up and additional detail on the Viriginia school teachers who refused to hand out flyers promoting an atheist summer camp but are perfectly willing to insure the kids go home with flyers promoting church organizations and bible classes. Mary Ellen Sikes, a resident of Albermarle county and retired employee of the Institute for Humanist Studies sought (and received) permission from the school district to distribute flyers on Camp Quest, a summer camp aimed at the children of non-religious families. According to Sikes:

"Church organizations were now starting to take advantage of this new expanded policy by advertising things like Bible schools and church events for kids, and it seemed to me that families in Albemarle County should have access to other perspectives," Sikes said. "I remember how it felt to learn that I wasn't the only freethinker out there and I wasn't the only one trying to raise kids. I know what it is like to feel isolated in this community of believers who probably do not respect what you're all about."

But it was apparently too much to ask that some teachers apply the same constitutional standards to non-Christians. Unfortunately, Sikes did not realize that some teachers were refusing to send the approved flyers home until it was reported in WorldNutDaily:

"There's a part of me that sympathizes with these teachers," Sikes said. "I'd be pretty uncomfortable as a teacher handing out a Bible camp flyer. But I'd still do it. And if I had a problem with it, I'd go to the principal. I wouldn't just dump it in the trash. That's what is so frightening about these teachers making the decision in the classroom -- based on their own values -- to override a flyer that their school board has approved and decided to be distributed. Just based on their comfort with the message of this flyer. That's censorship. I have to wonder what other messages they're sending to kids about conformity. To send kids the message that you should also conform to the majority view on religion or politics is frightening."

I'm sure Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave about now...

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