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┬áreports┬áthat between 2007 and 2013, more than 97 percent of the prayers delivered by commissioners before public meetings were explicitly Christian prayers.┬á
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.
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┬áidentified ninety-one schools of concern. Subsequently, in January┬á2015, the BHA sent freedom of information requests to local┬áauthorities to ascertain whether those schools were still receiving┬ástate funds. Only fourteen of the ninety-one schools in fact lost┬átheir funding. Fifty-one schools still receiving funding were regarded┬áas 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.
┬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.”
┬áCalifornia State PTA involves nearly one million Californians who┬ásupport the education and well-being of children in the state.
The square miles of Arctic sea ice in March 2015, the smallest recorded since satellite technology was introduced.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration┬á