Georgia Science Teacher Under Fire For Proselytising

| by Alexander Rubinstein
“Are You Sure That There is No God.”“Are You Sure That There is No God.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to Georgia’s Douglas County School System, claiming constitutional violations of the establishment clause of the First Amendment to U.S. Constitution which separates church and state.

The May complaint was issued after an atheist student’s parents contacted FFRF about their child’s allegations that his science teacher, James Tillman, had quizzed him during class about his atheism.

Tillman also allegedly asked whether the student’s parents were atheists, and challenged him with hypothetical questions such as “What if you had cancer and it suddenly went away?”

According to FFRF, two weeks later, Tillman gave the student two signed copies of a book which he had written titled “Are You Sure That There is No God.” The book’s Amazon product page says that the book contains “real accounts from real people who have meet (sic) or experienced God and Jesus first-hand.” The page also states, “If you have any doubt as to whether God is real, or if your faith is weak, all that will change after reading this book.”

According to the letter, Tillman also discussed his experience being a pastor and showed videos of himself preaching inside the classroom. FFRF said the actions are “unconstitutional proselytizing.”

FFRF also called on the school district to investigate Tillman’s role in the “First Priority Club,” an on-campus student-led religious organization, in which FFRF doubted that Tillman’s role was “non-participatory” as mandated by law.

Teachers are allowed to teach the Bible as literature and teach about religion as part of the curriculum, reports The Christian Examiner. Based on Supreme Court rulings, teachers are not allowed to convey to students their personal opinions of religion or teach religious doctrine from a personal point of view.

FFRF attorney Madeline Ziegler wrote, “Tillman's imposition of his religious beliefs on a classroom of students is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion over non-religion, and his overt attempt to convert our complainant's child to Christianity is inexcusable.”

FFRF is a watchdog group for the separation of church and state. The foundation has 22,800 members, including more than 400 in Georgia.

Sources: The Christian Examiner, Freedom from Religion Foundation

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