Imagine that you're a high school teacher who prioritizes your love for the baby Jesus over your legal responsibilities as an educator and thus, in the name of all that is holy, successfully stops an atheist group from forming on campus. Nice work! But you're not done. You're so pleased with yourself that you can't help sending an "anonymous" letter to the Secular Student Alliance bragging about your dedication to "conveying the truth to students." There's just one problem: your actions were illegal, and (okay, there are two problems) you don't know what the word "anonymous" means. Oops!
SSA's JT Eberhard recently received an "anonymous" letter from a high school teacher who had received SSA's educator brochure and felt compelled to respond back with his own thoughts, the gist being that the "organization is an agent of Lucifer." Some highlights:
Obviously, I would not want to help students down the wrong path. A group tried to form at our school. It was from one of those students that I received this brochure. Not surprisingly, they could not get a teacher to sponsor the club. As educators we are dedicated to conveying the truth to students. If the students are proud of believing there is no God they should not feel like they have to hide it. They should not feel the need for a safe haven.
Educational staff has the responsibility of preparing students to be responsible adults. We expect all students to be treated with respect. We are not, however, obligated to protect those who choose to be deviants in society.
A welcoming environment is what we should not create. Satan should not be comfortable in God's world. You say they should develop their own world view when you really want them to adopt your world view. The book they need to read for information is the Bible. Nontheism should not be spoken of in a tone of acceptance.
"A welcoming environment is what we should not create" ... and proper grammar is what we should not use! No wonder the only book this teacher (let's remember that this man is responsible for teaching impressionable young people things about the world) thinks students should read for information is the Bible. He, on the other hand, could've saved himself a lot of trouble by catching up on some internet basics: if you include your email address in an "anonymous" email — and if your email address includes your ZIP CODE — you can be tracked down very easily. That's exactly what Eberhard did, and he didn't stop there — he sent a strongly worded letter to the man's principal letting him know that it "violates the Equal Access Act to allow a monitor requirement to serve as a bar to a club's formation or to impose restrictions on one group that are not imposed on other groups."
You can read the entire letter on his blog, but here are some excerpts:
The notion that ostracism is justified for a minority if they do not conform to the activities of the majority, coming from an educator, is in violation of so many Education Discrimination Laws that the list defies concise description, not the least of which is Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
For an agent of the government, this behavior is egregious. The fact that Mr. XXXXX has expressed a willingness to create an atmosphere of inequality in a public school is compounded by the fact that Mr. XXXXX apparently doesn't understand even the basic legal obligations of a government/school employee. This makes him a very serious liability not only to XYZ High School, but also to the administration that hired him and which is charged with maintaining legal compliance (not to mention compliance with XYZ's nondiscrimination policy).
I will give you until Monday morning a 9am EDT to consult your legal counsel and to respond to this email with how you plan to rectify this situation. Your legal counsel will undoubtedly ask you if the students who attempted to start the club will still be students at XYZ in the fall. I have taken the liberty of answering that question before contacting you: yes, they will be. You will also need to let me know a time on Tuesday that the SSA's Regional Organizer in [US STATE], [SSA ORGANIZER], can come to your office and talk to you about Mr. XXXXX's letter.
We can't wait to hear how the school responds — and how they deal with poor Mr. XXXXX. Maybe he should have read his Bible more carefully; "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring."
High School Teacher Brags About How His School Stopped an Atheist Group from Forming, but He's in for a Surprise [Patheos]
Want to know what the high school secular landscape looks like? [FTB]
Image via Olly/Shutterstock.