We need to stop a new bill that would defy the Constitution by allowing South Carolina public school teachers to openly proselytize.
HB 3345, proposed for 2017, falsely claims to promote "academic freedom." In actuality, the bill is about emboldening public school teachers to promote their personal religious beliefs to students in their classroom and to participate in student-organized prayer events and religious clubs. This kind of spiritual propagation is a direct assault on the Equal Rights Act, which sets boundaries for teacher participation in student clubs, and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Public school teachers are already free to discuss religion from an academic perspective to advance cultural education. They can teach about the impact of religion on history, literature and the arts. However, public school teachers cannot use their positions as government-employed educators to promote a spiritual ideology as truth or specific religious dogma as fact. HB 3345 seeks to blur the line between teaching fact and preaching faith and will undoubtedly result in teachers violating the law.
This bill is detrimental to students, families, taxpayers and, ultimately, the state's public education system. Students have a right to a public education that is free from proselytization. Parents entrust public schools with the education of their children with the understanding that teachers will not abuse their access to students by promoting a personal religious belief.
HB 3345 was prefiled on Dec. 15 and referred to the Committee on Education and Public Works. We need you to help us stop this bill that would poison our public education system.
Tell members of the committee that the religious proselytization HB 3345 would create is an assault on the wall of separation between church and state guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Please cc your legislators and ensure that the opinions of freethinkers about the dangerous implications of this proposal are communicated to the state's representatives.
Feel free to utilize the talking points below.
Please oppose HB 3345, which would allow South Carolina teachers to indoctrinate students by expressing their religious viewpoint, conducting or participating in student-led prayer or student-organized prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious gatherings put on by students. This blatantly violates the Equal Rights Act as well as the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. As a taxpayer, I am concerned that this bill will cause needless litigation by confusing teachers into violating federal law.
Students, parents, and taxpayers have a right to an education system free of the promotion of religious ideologies. Public education needs to remain secular for the proper functioning of a democratic society in which church and state are separate, as is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.