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Lawsuit Challenges New Science Standards in Kansas

September 30, 2013
Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE), a Kansas-based nonprofit, has sued the Kansas State Board of Education and the Kansas State Department of Education to enjoin (stop) the state's implementation of new, multistate science standards.

The challenged standards are the National Academy of Science's Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards, which have been adopted in seven states as of September 20. Kansas adopted them in June of this year. In its complaint, dated September 26, 2013, COPE alleges that the new standards will violate the First and 14th Amendments by having the effect "of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview."

In response, Joshua Rosenau of National Center for Science Education, a California-based nonprofit, said that COPE is "trying to say anything that's not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion."

On its web site, COPE classifies "Atheism and Religious ('Secular') Humanism" as religions alongside "traditional theistic religions."

Sources: COPE web site, Next Generation Science Standards web site, The Kansas City Star

New Hampshire Schools Disallow Mother From Praying on Campus

July 29, 2013
Christine Rath, superintendent of Concord School District in New Hampshire, has said that a woman’s prayer activity at the entrance to Concord High School must cease when school resumes in the fall. The woman, a mother of two Concord High School students, had begun vocally praying each morning on the stairs leading into the school after a bullet had been found in a school bathroom in February.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit that advocates strict separation of church and state, complained to the school district upon hearing about the prayers. In response, Superintendent Rath said Urena had no permission to pray on school property.

Source: New Hampshire Union Leader.


Judge Rules Yoga Class Not Religious

July 2, 2013
On July 1, Judge John Meyer ruled that a controversial Southern California yoga class offered in the Encinitas Union School District does not advance religion in public schools. The school district had received a grant from a yoga foundation of more than $500,000 to develop an Ashtanga yoga program for elementary-school P.E. classes. In response to the program, parents of two children in the district filed a lawsuit against the district earlier this year.

Testifying for the plaintiffs was Dr. Candy Brown, a religious studies professor and member of the American Academy of Religion, who testified that Ashtanga yoga as taught in Encinitas was inherently religious. Judge Meyer ruled, however, that the yoga program as developed by the school district satisfied each of the three prongs of the Lemon test. Therefore, the yoga class was not religious in this context.

The parents were represented by attorney Dean Broyles of the National Center for Law & Policy, a Christian-advocacy nonprofit. Broyles has pledged to appeal the trial court’s decision.

Source: National Public Radio, Religion Clause (blog).


Mississippi School prayer Law Goes Into Effect

July 1, 2013
Today, the “Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act of 2013” went into effect. The law’s stated prupose is to end school-based discrimination against students or parents on the basis of religious viewpoint. Among other things, the law establishes “a limited public forum for student speakers at all school events at which a student is to publicly speak.”

Read more at CRF Blog.


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