The weekly report on US and International policy
by Edwina Rogers

Federal Court Rules Against ÔÇÿCoerciveÔÇÖ Christian Prayers At Public Meetings

Secular Victory: A federal court┬árules┬áÔÇ£coerciveÔÇØ Christian prayers at public meetings in a North Carolina county are unconstitutional.

Last week a federal judge┬áruled┬áthat in North Carolina, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners violated the U.S. Constitution by adopting what the ACLU calls a ÔÇ£coercive prayer practice.ÔÇØ

The federal court┬áruled┬áthat the Rowan County Board of Commissioners violated the Constitution when they coerced public participation in prayers that overwhelmingly advanced beliefs specific to one religion ÔÇô Christianity.

The ACLU reports that between 2007 and 2013, more than 97 percent of the prayers delivered by commissioners before public meetings were explicitly Christian prayers. praying-hands-on-scripture

State Report – Anti Science Bill In Alabama

┬áHouse Bill 592, introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives on┬áApril 30, 2015, and referred to the House Committee on Education┬áPolicy, would undermine the integrity of science education in the┬ástate by encouraging science teachers with idiosyncratic opinions to┬áteach anything they pleased and prevent responsible┬áeducational authorities from intervening. Topics identified in the┬ábill as likely to “cause debate and disputation” are “biological┬áevolution, the chemical origins of life, and human cloning.” The bill was modeled on Tennessee’s “Monkey Law”, enacted in 2012.

HB 592’s┬álead sponsor is Mack Butler (R-District 30), who,┬ádiscussing a different bill with┬áAlabama.com┬á(January 21,┬á2015), commented, “It takes a lot more faith to believe in evolution.” ┬áHB 592 is the first antiscience bill in the Alabama┬álegislature since 2009, when HB 300, the last in a long string of.┬á”academic freedom” bills in Alabama, failed to win passage.s-AMERICANS-CREATIONISM-large

Creation In British Faith Schools

┬á”Creationism is still taught in dozens of faith schools [in the United┬áKingdom] despite government threats to withdraw their funding,”┬áreports the Telegraph (May 2, 2015), describing the results of a┬árecent investigation by the British Humanist Association.

┬áIn September 2014, the Department of Education instituted a ban on the┬ástate funding of nurseries (for children 2-4) that promote extremist┬áviews. Although the main target of the ban were “nurseries linked to┬áradical mosques or run by Islamic hardliners,” the Telegraph (August┬á7, 2014) noted, “Nurseries that teach creationism as scientific fact┬áwill be ineligible for taxpayer funding, under the new rules.”

Before the ban was instituted, the British Humanist Association identified ninety-one schools of concern. Subsequently, in January 2015, the BHA sent freedom of information requests to local authorities to ascertain whether those schools were still receiving state funds. Only fourteen of the ninety-one schools in fact lost their funding. Fifty-one schools still receiving funding were regarded as likely to be teaching creationism.

The BHA’s Pavan Dhaliwal told the Telegraph, “It is hugely┬ádisappointing … to discover that creationist schools have continued┬áto receive state funds since the ban on their doing so came into┬áforce” and called on the Department of Education to address the┬ásituation.

California PTA Weighs In On Climate Change

┬áCalifornia State PTA adopted a resolution on climate change and┬áclimate change education — entitled “Climate Change is a Children’s┬áIssue” — at its annual convention in Sacramento, California, on May┬á2, 2015.shutterstock_153806906

┬áObserving that there is broad scientific consensus on climate change┬áand the role of human activity in causing global warming, the┬áresolution calls for the California State PTA to “urge its units,┬ácouncils and districts to educate parents on the impact of climate┬áchange on children’s health and future welfare” and for school┬ádistricts to “educate students on climate and energy literacy and┬áhuman sustainability.”

┬áNCSE’s Minda Berbeco spoke in favor of the resolution, saying, “It is┬áthe mission of the California PTA to positively impact the lives of┬áall children and families. By passing this resolution, we are telling┬áour children, their teachers, and their schools that we, as their┬áparents and guardians, are here for them, to support them as they┬álearn how to navigate the challenges ahead and protect their future. I┬ácan’t imagine a more important positive impact.”

 California State PTA involves nearly one million Californians who support the education and well-being of children in the state.

And incidentally…

5,560,000

The square miles of Arctic sea ice in March 2015, the smallest recorded since satellite technology was introduced.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration