A Louisiana public high school is fighting the ALCU over the school’s Christian curriculum. The school teaches creationism in science class, test students on bible verses, and give lectures about the evil of contraception.
The ACLU sent Airline High School a warning on Oct. 24, accusing the school of a “pattern of religious proselytization.” The ACLU was alerted to the school’s illegal curriculum after a series of complaints from students and parents. The school, located in Bossier Parish, LA, does not deny that it teaches Christian lessons and tries to indoctrinate students into a Baptist lifestyle.
According to students, the school openly promotes Baptist ideology, punishes teachers that teach evolution as fact, and regularly reads the bible during classes. The school had a “born-again virgin” talk to the girls in gym class, and warned them against the evils of premarital sex and contraception.
After the school received the ACLU letter warning them about their First Amendment violations, local citizens rallied support for Airline principal Jason Rowland. The school has no plans to amend any policy, and will likely face ACLU intervention.
In addition to setting the curriculum, Rowland sends out newsletters with religious messages, and tells students to “pray to the Almighty God” over the schools intercom. After ACLU intervention, signs appeared on the Airline campus calling Rowland a “prayer warrior.”
Pastor Mike Welch of Bistineau Baptist Church is one of the biggest supporters of Rowland and Airline’s Baptist teachings.Welch posted a video on his Facebook page voicing his support of Rowland, and declaring that Christian ideology was under attack.
Airline is also publicly supported by David Vitter, a Louisiana senator who is running for Governor in this week’s election. Vitter spoke at a rally to support Rowland and decried the ACLU’s “war on Religion.”
“They’re on a seek-and-destroy mission for all things religious. Biblical principles were the basis of our founding documents,” said Vitter, who owns “Legal Guard,” a Christian legal firm that represents businesses against the ACLU.
Although many locals support the school, students feel uncomfortable with the principal and faculty constantly pushing their religious attitudes. Slate spoke with several students anonymously, and all had issues with the school’s methods of forcing religion on the students.
One story, from 2011, that came up repeatedly was about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes distributing pocket Bibles to students during lunch. Allie was a sophomore at the time, and she told me, the “FCA gave students Bibles and encouraged people to pass them out to a sinful school because it was ‘our jobs as students’ to minster to the broken.’”
Students felt uncomfortable with the school’s ideology, and feared they were not getting a proper education. They also took issue with how the school handled LBGTQ students. Michael Graves, a former student, came out as gay after graduation, but still feared rejection from former advisors.
“When I came out, there were some teachers who blatantly told me they thought I was sinning, but thankfully I had graduated,” said Graves.
Featured image via Zach Kopplin of Slate