When 19-year-old Sara Elizabeth Sheppard’s high-school economics professor started bashing atheists in class, the clever teen knew it was time to take out her cell phone and start recording. That decision, and the actions that followed, earned Sheppard a college scholarship.
According to Sheppard, her teacher had “started to talk about religion in an inappropriate manner,” comparing non-belief to smoking.
He lectured that atheism was contrary to human nature, and that “the mind rejects the concept of atheism” in the same way it rejects cigarettes. In a later class, he promoted using prayer to maintain a positive mindset.
Armed with her recordings, Sheppard contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The organization went directly to the school district, which responded with a letter stating, “We have conducted a thorough investigation and have taken appropriate action.”
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Apparently the action worked, because a friend of Sheppard’s who took the class the following semester reported that the teacher complained about losing “his right to talk about Jesus.”
Sheppard wrote an essay about her experience, a portion of which read, “I had a few friends in the same class that were angry with me and said I destroyed his freedom to religion, but in reality his actions were unconstitutional and were not related to economics at all. This was economics class, not Sunday school.”
That essay won her $500, coming in fourth place in the Freedom From Religion Foundation Scholarship essay contest.
Elsewhere in Texas, atheists are causing a stir with advertisements promoting their cause. The Brazos Valley Coalition of Reason has posted billboards stating, "Don't believe in God? You're not alone."
Local news channel KEYE TV found that although the sign upset some Christians, most people reportedly support the coalition.
According to coalition leaders, the billboard lets people know they have a community that accepts them, even if they question the dogma that surrounds them in their family and social lives.