Americans United for Separation of Church and State is launching an investigation into new Florida educational standards that reportedly promote white Christian Nationalism.
Gov. Ron DeSantis launched a Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative (CLEI) and Florida educators recently attended a three-day training session to learn how to teach students the new material. “There was this Christian nationalism philosophy that was just baked into everything,” one teacher told the Miami Herald, which broke the story.
The billion-dollar shadow network Americans United has been fighting in court and around the country seems to be involved in promoting the standards. Americans United’s investigation seeks to uncover the extent to which the training sessions were developed by the conservative Christian groups like Hillsdale College and the Koch-founded Bill of Rights Institute.
During the training, slides shown to teachers describing the new curriculum called facts about our nation’s history “misconceptions,” including that “The Founders desired strict separation of church and state and the Founders only want to protect Freedom of worship” and “The American colonies were characterized by religious intolerance … and there was no religious liberty in America until the First Amendment.” During breakout sessions, the state’s presenters reportedly highlighted the influence of Jesus Christ and the Bible in the country’s foundation. The training also whitewashed the role of slavery in American history.
In a public records request filed today with the Florida Department of Education, Americans United is demanding all documents, materials, contracts and audio or video recordings related to the CLEI trainings, and all department correspondence relating to the trainings, including communications with Hillsdale College.
Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser said: “Americans United is considering all options. We’re not going to sit by while politicians smuggle white Christian Nationalism into public school curriculums under the guise of good citizenship. This is another attack in the long war religious extremists and their lawmaker allies have launched on our public schools, as is the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which shamefully takes effect in Florida today.
“Our public schools suffered devastating blows at the Supreme Court over the last few weeks. First, the court forced Maine taxpayers to fund private religious education. Then, the court falsely described a coach’s coercive prayer as ‘personal’ and stopped public schools from protecting their students. In both cases, the court redefined the constitutional promise of religious freedom for all as religious privilege for a select few.
“The state shouldn’t be indoctrinating students into Christian nationalism, but educating them about the separation of church and state, which is embedded in our Constitution because the founders recognized it is the only guarantee of religious freedom for all. What we need right now is a national recommitment to the separation of church and state.”
Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Associate Vice President of Communications