In late December, you start seeing “Top Ten” lists for the year that was. So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Church-State Stories from 2016 (in my humble opinion, at least):
President-elect Donald Trump has picked Betsy DeVos to head the U.S. Education Department. DeVos is infamous for leading the crusade to create private school vouchers, but she’s also known for her Wild West approach to charter schools – and that should worry religious-liberty watchdogs.
Students attending Heritage Academy, a string of charter schools in three Arizona cities, are learning some unusual things.
In an American Government class and other courses, students are taught that non-believers are mentally unfit, the Constitution was inspired by the Bible and evolution is an unsound theory.
The American Government course looks to be drenched in religion. It’s based on 28 principles that supposedly are required for sound government. Many of them are religious in nature.
Americans United last month filed a federal lawsuit designed to clean up some church-state problems at an Arizona charter school. As charter schools grow in popularity, this case could set a national precedent.
Remember, charter schools for the purposes of separation of church and state are public institutions. They are arms of the public school system and are funded by the taxpayers. They aren’t private schools, and they can’t engage in religious indoctrination.
“All things were created by God, therefore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent, and to Him they are equally responsible.”
That sentence appears in a required textbook used in the American Government class at Heritage Academy, a public charter school for seventh through twelfth graders with three campusus near Phoenix, Ariz.
A public charter school in Arizona is violating the U.S. Constitution and Arizona Constitution by pushing religion on students in its classes, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.