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Atheist Group Challenges Christian Curriculum in Public Charter School

For Immediate Release


Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, dniose@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on behalf of a local family to the Benjamin Franklin Charter School in Queen Creek, Arizona, concerning Christian bias in a seventh grade teacher’s English class.

According to the class’s curriculum, students will study Christian texts, including selections from the Old and New Testaments, Pilgrim’s Progress and the writings of Christian author C.S. Lewis. The curriculum’s dating of texts suggests an inaccurate bias reflecting a biblical literalist view, with Old Testament readings dated as originating from around 4000 BC. Most academic scholarship dates those materials as originating about three thousand years later, and coming into their present form between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.

“Public charter schools are not in the business of promoting a Christian worldview,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Doing so is an affront to the wall of separation between church and state.”

“Teaching that promotes Christianity and presents a biblical literalist perspective of the Old Testament is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Students deserve a sound education based on fact, not religious belief.”

The letter urges the school to revise the curriculum to correct the inaccuracies of its dating of the Old Testament and remove some or all of the Christian reading material, as well as allow students and parents to record and monitor classes.     

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.  


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.