Washington County Election Officials Refuse to Kowtow to Atheists

According to the Associated Press, Washington County election officials in Arkansas will continue using churches as polling sites despite complaints from an atheist group.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation reportedly sent a letter to the election commission discouraging the commission from using churches as polling sites on Election Day.

However, when it’s all said and done, there is no constitutional problem with letting a church serve as a polling site–and as the AP notes, election commissioners have struggled in the past to find enough polling locations for elections.

You can read more here.

Atheist Group Goes After “Bible” Course in AR School

As we have written before, a few years ago the Arkansas Legislature passed a law authorizing public schools to teach about the Bible.

Act 1440 of 2013 permits public schools to offer elective academic courses that study “the Bible and its influence on literature, art, music, culture, and politics.” The courses must be objective and nonsectarian, and must meet the same academic standards as other elective courses offered in public schools.

According to CNSNews.com, the Bentonville School Board is considering whether to offer an elective course on the Bible in the coming school year–drawing the ire of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group based in Wisconsin, who sent a letter to the board last month in opposition to the course.

It is worth noting courts have indicated the U.S. Constitution does not prevent public school students from being taught about the Bible and its significance throughout human history, provided the instruction is conducted in an educational and neutral manner.

In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court even went so far in its Stone v. Graham decision as to say, “the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like.” The key is the state has to have a legitimate, secular purpose in offering elective courses on the Bible.

Act 1440’s stated purpose for these classes is to study the Bible’s influence on our culture. This purpose seems more than reasonable, considering no single book has held more sway over western culture than the Bible.

As we have also said before, students and teachers do not shed their First Amendment freedoms by walking into a school. Students are free to form religiously-based student organizations. Students can even discuss their faith, if relevant, as part of course assignments and homework. They can peacefully read scripture or pray during breaks, before school, and after school.

Atheist Group Continues Saber-Rattling in Arkansas

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is at it again in Arkansas–this time threatening legal action over prayer at a public high school football game in Ashdown.

KTBS writes,

The “Freedom from Religion Foundation” of Madison, Wisconsin, wrote to Ashdown School District Superintendent Jason Sanders recently, with complaints about the high school band director leading students in prayer, as well as, school-sponsored prayer at the football games.

Sanders consulted the “Alliance for Defending Freedom” for advice on the situation.

He says they haven’t broken any laws.

“We feel like that the freedom of our students to express themselves will hold up in a court of law,” said Sanders.

This isn’t the first time atheist groups have tried to use the threat of legal action to intimidate public officials and others.

It’s worth noting that across the board, groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation tend to threaten lawsuits; oftentimes, if people stand their ground, no lawsuit is ever actually filed.

Photo Credit: “Gameday2” by Rmcclen at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia by Ronhjones. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.