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ACLU warns local school over creationism, archery class

The ACLU of Ohio has warned the Lebanon City Schools about constitutional implications of turning over its school gym classes to an evangelical group that teaches creationism alongside archery.

According to an ACLU release, the Lebanon school program, managed by a group known as 'His Pins," began in local churches. It has expanded into public schools, where classes are taught by clergy members and include religious devotion along with lessons connecting the sport of archery with biblical creationism.

"This group openly admits that they are proselytizing to public school students during classroom time," ACLU of Ohio staff attorney Drew Dennis said in the release."These children are legally required to attend public school; that makes them a captive audience. When outside instructors take advantage of this fact to advance their own religious views, it sends a message that the school endorses one set of religious beliefs above all others."

"It is the job of families to educate their children on spiritual values, not the government," Dennis said in the press release. "If families want their children to learn about archery and biblical creationism at the same time, there are ample opportunities off school grounds. There is no need to create unnecessary constitutional problems by involving the public school system."

The ACLU letter outlines several court cases affirming that creationism cannot be taught in public schools and asks the Lebanon district to take steps to avoid legal problems. "Whether the school is using outside instructors or their own personnel, the First Amendment clearly prohibits them from using class instructional time to teach creationism or impose devotionals on students," said Heather Weaver, staff attorney with the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

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