Bible Literacy Project News
Alabama Education Association distributes religion guides to 50,000
August 27, 2005
Two booklets containing instructions
on handling religion in Alabama's public schools are being distributed
to some 50,000 teachers statewide by the Alabama Education Association.
The state teachers union is distributing the 16-page "The Bible and
Public Schools" and the 20-page "A Teacher's Guide to Religion in Public
Schools." An AEA spokesman, David Stout, said the goal is to dispel the
notion that the Bible and prayer aren't allowed in public schools.
The booklets advise an academic, not devotional, approach to religion.
Charles Haynes of the First Amendment Center produced the booklets after
U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley in 1999 suggested a guide to
Haynes has been the principal organizer and drafter of a series of
consensus guidelines on religious liberty in public education endorsed
by a broad range of civil liberties and educational organizations. In
January 2000, three of these guides were sent by President Clinton to
every public school in the United States.
Olivia Turner of Montgomery, director of the American Civil Liberties
Union of Alabama, said Wednesday she has not read the booklets and
couldn't comment. The AEA's distribution of the material was reported by
New York Times regional newspapers in Alabama.
Alabama Association of School Boards spokeswoman Sally Brewer Howell
said school boards already receive updates and training on religion
issues in schools to keep current on the law.
The AEA-distributed booklets emphasize that teachers and other school
employees are government employees who may not promote religion but may
explain its history, its place in ancient and modern times and the Bible
in its various forms.
Schools may strive for awareness but not acceptance of religion, the
Schools also may sponsor religious studies but not the practice of
religion and schools may expose students to diverse religions but may
not impose, discourage or encourage any particular religious view.
The guides also say schools may teach about religion but may not
denigrate or promote any particular one. Schools may inform students but
not seek to conform him or her to any particular belief.