By Stephen D. Foster Jr. | 13 October 2015
A Mississippi public school teacher blatantly violated the religious liberty of his students by trying to indoctrinate them during class by insulting atheists.
Rick Hammarstrom, who is also a pastor at Rehobeth Baptist Church, openly disparaged atheism during a history class when he announced that people who don’t believe in God are fools.
“Atheists are throwing a fit because they don’t have their own day,” the teacher told the class as an atheist student was forced to listen. “They do have their own day; it’s called April Fools’ Day, because you are a fool if you don’t believe in god.”
Disturbed by the hostile proselytizing, the parents of the students were soon informed and asked the American Humanist Association to step in.
The AHA sent a letter to the Northwest Rankin High School District warning them to put an immediate end to the religious lectures or face possible legal action.
And apparently, not only does Hammarstrom have a history of preaching to his students, the school has a history of trying all sorts of indoctrination tactics to convert students to Christianity, even in direct violation of court orders.
This is not the first instance of the school district endorsing religion. In 2013, a former student and the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit challenging the district’s practice of holding religious assemblies. The judgment, favoring the American Humanist Association, included a consent decree requiring the district to stop the assemblies. In July 2015, a United States District Court granted a motion for contempt filed by the American Humanist Association’s legal center, which ruled that the district defied the consent decree by sponsoring an award ceremony with Christian prayers and by permitting Bible distribution in an elementary school. The court’s order states that the district will be fined $10,000 for each future infraction.
It sounds like this school needs to be slapped with a multi-million dollar lawsuit to make it sink in that religious lectures belong in church and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a place of learning. It also sounds like this pathetic excuse for a teacher and the administrators who appeased him need to be fired as examples of what happens when a school administrator or employee tries to indoctrinate students or insults other beliefs.
Clearly, these court orders and settlements are not enough to stop school officials from running the school like a church designed to brainwash and bully non-Christian students into converting against their will.
A lesson in basic constitutional rights needs to be learned here, and if these school officials can’t learn it, they have no business overseeing the education of our kids.
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