"However, it was inappropriate for the teacher to share his personal beliefs, as it had a direct influence on the interpretation of the lesson."
McDonald used the textbook's worksheet. On it, students were to give examples of how the Iroquois tale reflects four functions of myth - to instill awe, explain the world, support customs and guide people.
But he adapted the form, and had the class do the same for the biblical account of creation in Genesis. He provided a paraphrase of the story.
After they completed that assignment, he gave them another handout, titled "The Problem With Evil."
That handout, which was not part of the textbook's materials, asked questions such as how evil could exist if God is good and all-powerful.
Junior Lanae Olsen, 17, said it all went too far.
The assignment was offensive to her Christian beliefs, and came one day after McDonald told the class he was atheist.
'From a constitutional perspective, schools can't teach the truth or falsity of religious belief, and atheism would fall in that parameter,' said Alan Brownstein, a constitutional law expert at the University of California at Davis" School of Law.
"To see the disingenuous hypocrisy of religious people who embrace NOMA, imagine that forensic archeologists, by some unlikely set of circumstances, discovered DNA evidence demonstrating that Jesus was born of a virgin mother and had no father. If NOMA enthusiasts were sincere, they should dismiss the archeologists' DNA out of hand: "Irrelevant. Scientific evidence has no bearing on theological questions. Wrong magisterium." Does anyone seriously imagine that they would say anything remotely like that? You can bet your boots that not just the fundamentalists but every professor of theology and every bishop in the land would trumpet the archeological evidence to the skies."
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