Atheist Group Claims Religious Bias in Charter School Run by Republican Representative

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An atheist organization claims there's a "significant religious bias" in a Queen Creek charter school run by Republican state Representative Eddie Farnsworth.

The American Humanist Association's legal team sent a letter on behalf of a family to Farnsworth and the Benjamin Franklin Charter School, asking that the seemingly religion-heavy curriculum of a seventh-grade English class be revised.

"Every single quarter there is a heavy religious element," American Humanist Association legal director David Niose tells New Times. "We have a consistent effort here to keep religion in the curriculum all through the school year, in a very heavy way."

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The syllabus includes non-religious texts, but also includes the Old Testament and New Testament, as well as the Christian-themed book The Pilgrim's Progress, and another book by overtly Christian author C.S. Lewis.

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Part of the syllabus for seventh-grade English at the Benjamin Franklin Charter School.

Additionally, on the syllabus, the Old Testament is listed under the dates of 4000 BC to 300 BC, which the American Humanist Association cites as evidence of a religious bias"

"Outside the realm of fundamentalist religion, it is generally accepted that the Old Testament was written in the first millennium BCE, and more specifically was set down in what is more or less its current form (in Hebrew, not English) between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE. Thus, one must wonder why the "4000 BC" reference is made by Mrs. Kasten.

"The only sensible explanation, it seems, is a religious one. That is, a biblical literalist view might understand the world to be approximately 6000 years old (meaning that Adam and Eve would have dwelled in the Garden of Eden around the year 4000 BCE). Thus, the fact that the Kasten curriculum categorizes Genesis and Exodus as being literature presumably dating back to 4000 BCE is not only misleading and inaccurate, it also seems to reflect an effort to present biblical literalism as truth. Again, this is a view that would be unsupported by any objective academic standard."

The American Humanist Association's letter claims this a Constitutional violation, and wants the school to respond to this letter within a week.

"Sometimes references to religious material might be appropriate," Niose says. "We're not trying to banish religious text altogether from English courses, but this syllabus is just extremely heavy in religious material."

Representative Farnsworth, the addressee of the letter and the president of the Benjamin Franklin Charter School, did not immediately return a message left with an assistant this morning.

The American Humanist Association isn't ruling out the possibility of a lawsuit over the curriculum, but the organization doesn't have immediate plans to file one.

"We're going to take it one step at a time," Niose says.

The letter, along with a copy of the syllabus, are embedded below:

American Humanist Association letter to Rep. Eddie Farnsworth

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Valley Fever on Twitter at @ValleyFeverPHX.
Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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98 comments
Sara Sturz
Sara Sturz

Sure if I wanted to teach my child how to be EVIL!

Timothy D Little
Timothy D Little

Isn't it Christ like how they kick over the game board like children losing when you question their certain brand of mythology.

Timothy D Little
Timothy D Little

Why yes it does. Your mythology is slipping and you're mad. I love how loving the so-called theists are.

Timothy D Little
Timothy D Little

They're is already a very well run charter school in the SE valley that stays out of indoctrination stuff. Not many of them out there.

Adrian Colon
Adrian Colon

We aren't mad. We just don't want to be indoctrinated by a belief system we don't agree with. If you want to learn about religion, have at it, but do it in its right place. You have that you know. It's called church...

Adrian Colon
Adrian Colon

Steven, this is not a Cristian nation. The founding fathers were very specific about that. And "in god we trust" was not added to things like money, dollar bills, until the 1950's as propaganda against communism during the Cold War...

Eva Quomsieh Leih
Eva Quomsieh Leih

Ha no. I know Farnsworth personally and he's a slick guy. Religion all up in your face. Guy has no problem telling you you're wrong for not believing the same way he does.

Arizona Gardener
Arizona Gardener

Trust me Maggie, I do not watch FOX News nor am I ignorant ...

Breanne Arnold Chacon
Breanne Arnold Chacon

I drive to take my child to a charter school. Plenty of other schools have bus options.

jp81az
jp81az

yea seriously my kid is in a mesa charter school if they started teaching the old testament id have a fit.. when i was in school we read stuff like Shakespeare, Canterbury tales, catcher in the rye, Beowulf, the pearl, etc..... no religious stuff what so ever... totally absurd they shouldnt be teaching any religious stuff what so ever . if parents want there kids to learn that send them to catholic school etc...


Beanz'arillo NuPerspective
Beanz'arillo NuPerspective

Of course there is.. there always was and will be. Conservative christians of bible belt America are behind education and politics... Is it some kind of plot? I dnt know.. i dont care. it's just been like that since european colonization. subconsciously, there is HUGE discrimination factors on any religion/belief but their own. The sad thing is they don't even realize they are not religious, they are biased since they love only one truth that is of their own.

Maggie Shaw
Maggie Shaw

Steven, you do NOT have to take an oath on a bible. That is just one more myth people believe in.

Maggie Shaw
Maggie Shaw

You have no understanding of CC. We spend more money on inmates and wars than we do on kids...which is why we are at the bottom...All the other nations that top us in educational achievement ARE democratic socialist states. Quit watching Fox(faux) news and other biased sites that want you to remain ignorant.

Steven Glansberg
Steven Glansberg

Lou Lernor this is a Christian nation. "In God we trust" under oath you have to put your hand on the bible lol come on

Steven Glansberg
Steven Glansberg

Atheist are always mad about nothing. ..stubborn stupid people

humfree1859
humfree1859

We are a huge distance now from the ideals of equality and freedom enunciated by the founders of this country.  The fundamentalist Christian right has taken us to the brink of theocracy, even though they won't admit it.  To them, it is simply the "right way".  They lie about the religious founding of the U. S., and the meaning of our Constitution.  Presently, they have a majority of the Supreme Court in their pocket.  I would guess that the charter school issues ultimately will be decided by this SCOTUS in favor of religious prerogatives in this nation's schools.  We desperately need to band together to oppose these moves.  At the same time, we will be aware of the rights of religious and non-faitheist folks to believe as they wish.  If this nation is to survive in freedom, we must eliminate the possibility of theocracy.

Kurt Kreiger
Kurt Kreiger

People look down their noses at public schools here so much. Whether public or charter--way too many parents expect a "school" to raise their kids. When parents don't pay attention--this kinda crap happens. Wonder how long this "state Rep" takes to distance himself so he can keep the job he covets.

Breanne Arnold Chacon
Breanne Arnold Chacon

It is a charter school ... the parents can CHOOSE another school. Just saying, I drive 20 miles to take my child to school.

Kurt Kreiger
Kurt Kreiger

If the "religious" can deny an employee of certain health care---why do they get public money to force their agenda like this?

getmeouttahere
getmeouttahere

Another reason the Charter School movement needs to die....

Eric Brugman
Eric Brugman

On the other hand, it wouldn't surprise me if this was just some atheists over reacting and looking for attention. They've been known to do that. And I've seen a secular school text book with a section on world religions in which Christianity and Judaism are mentioned in one paragraph, and many pages dedicated to eastern religions, especially Buddhism, which is a little biased I would say.

Eric Brugman
Eric Brugman

This shouldn't just bother atheists. What about agnostics or other religions? Or, Christians who want their kids to be critical thinkers and not just believe what they are told. In an English class the bible should be taught as literature, not as history. And definitely not in a history class. And if they want to be a religious school then they should be designated as one.

Francisco Cortez
Francisco Cortez

Religious bias by a Charter Schools ran by a Right Winger? No surprise here.

fankromank555
fankromank555

Perhaps they should read the Bible more often!


www.AnonWorld.tk

Arizona Gardener
Arizona Gardener

speaking of Liberal education, CommonCore, how do all of you like the new 2 + 2 = 5 ? or instead of correct answers now we have "more likable answers". since our educational system was taken over by the communists and socialists many years ago the US now ranks last in the developed world in regards to intelligence.

michimaiki
michimaiki

I guess you don't read  our history. Even our Pledge or Allegiance has "God" in it.

michimaiki
michimaiki

Good for you. I guess you probably watch MSNBC and CNN...

michimaiki
michimaiki

Some of them are biased just llike you are showing in your post

michimaiki
michimaiki

Fox is the most accurate and unbiased news compared to the major stations (ABC. CBS. NBC) and the propaganca machines - CNN and MSNBC. The people that want you to remain ignorant are the people in power who want to stay there.

SpottedDick
SpottedDick

Fuck your god, and fuck what it stands for.


Any questions?

michimaiki
michimaiki

@humfree1859 You forgot about the progressive socialists who are in power right now. They are indoctinating our kids in "common Core" schools andin our Universitites..

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Always check for commies under the bed and in the closet before turning in. Check the locks. Make sure the windows are secured. Then pray to be delivered from the Mexicans, atheists, communists, feminists and homosexuals. Especially pray for protection from ZOG.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Make sure you check for commies under the bed and in the closet before turning in. Check the locks. Make sure windows are secured. Then pray for protection from the atheists, communists, feminists and homosexuals. Especially pray for protection from ZOG.

valleynative
valleynative topcommenter

Nobody has ever changed arithmetic.

Nobody accepts "more likeable answers"

Education is not related to intelligence.


Maybe you should have gotten a better education.


humfree1859
humfree1859

@michimaiki @humfree1859  Common core subjects are a basis for progression of humanity.  Religion isn't any kind of foundation for learning science and expressing rational thought. Next, socialism is not the political system existent in the U. S. today.  You've absorbed the attitudes of the Tea Party and the fundamentalist Dominionists.  We must oppose such thinking, not become fascist theocrats.

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