In California, can a private employer ask a teacher to remove quotes and/or photos from the Bible from display in a Kindergarten classroom?
A: Yes. Discrimination in employment based upon religion has nothing to do with the employer's requirements of a secular nature concerning the products or services being offerred.
If you told the teacher not to bring the Bible to work, then you would have a problem. There is no issue with telling the teacher not to teach scripture to students.
What would be an appropriate communication be to such a teacher, explaining where the line is drawn between religion and her employment?
- Dear Teacher: The educational environment at this school is intended to be secular in nature. We have no interest in restricting you from practicing your theological tenets during your nonworking time. However, please do not advance those tenets as truth to the students, except as part of an objective historical presentation.
- Example1: Jesus walked on water, proving that he was a divine entity. [unaceptable as unsupported belief]
- Example2: The New Testament Bible, in Matthew 14:22-33, claims that Jesus walked on water. There is no objective proof for this claim. [acceptable objective presentation]
- Failure to adhere to the general principles of the above-described rule may result in termination of employment without further notice.
Note: The goal here is to permit a teacher to educate about history in an unrestricted manner, without advancing personal belief systems which may offend parents or students who are not ready for this sort of contentious philosophic debate.
You could be entirely deterministic and simply state that the teaching anything about religion is out of bounds. I am not wetted to any particular religious belief, however I do believe in presenting objective facts so that people can decide for themselves. This is the reason for my above-described approach. As the school administration, you must decide how much control to exert.
Hope this helps.
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