The Tennessee State Board of Education recently took a big step to making their state’s public education curriculum more inclusive. The state’s new social studies standards for the first time ever includes educating students about Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion and the only major faith not previously included in the curriculum.
The assaults on religious freedom and church-state separation by the Trump/Pence administration have fired up a base of already passionate Americans United supporters, and they are ready to fight back. This past weekend, I joined AU’s Field team, chapter leaders and supporters from North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee for a two-day training on grassroots organizing.
A statue of Clarence Darrow – the lawyer who famously defended John T. Scopes when he taught evolution in a Tennessee public school – is expected to be unveiled in Rhea County, Tenn., in July.
Darrow’s likeness will square off against that of William Jennings Bryan, the creationist prosecutor who successfully argued Scopes had illegally taught evolution at Dayton High School in 1925.
Bryan’s statue has been located outside the Rhea County Courthouse, the scene of the infamous trial, for a dozen years.
One Tennessee woman has all but thrown down a gauntlet and demanded a duel in opposition to a proposed statue of Clarence Darrow, the attorney who defended teacher John T. Scopes when he taught evolution in a Dayton public school.
Philadelphia sculptor Zenos Frudakis is creating the statue, which is scheduled to be dedicated in July at the Rhea County Courthouse – the site of the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial.”
A Tennessee mother is arguing that her family’s “personal religious beliefs were violated” because her daughter was expected to learn historical and objective information about Islam as a part of her social studies curriculum in a public school.
A Tennessee county official who performs marriage ceremonies but said he will not marry same-sex couples has received a warning letter from Americans United.
After marriage equality became the law in 2015 thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, Maury County Trustee Steve Konz said that he would no longer officiate at any weddings due to his conservative Roman Catholic beliefs.
by Sarah E. Jones
In Dayton, Tenn., William Jennings Bryan stands alone.
Or rather, a version of him does. Since 2005, the Rhea County Courthouse has displayed a solitary Bryan statue honoring his role in the famous “Scopes monkey trial” of 1925. Now, thanks to an idea hatched by an Americans United activist and endorsed by AU and a number of other groups, he may be about to get a new neighbor with a familiar face.
The Bible will not become the state of Tennessee’s official book.
A measure granting this designation to the Bible passed both chambers of the legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Bill Haslam (R). The bill, H.B. 615, would have made Tennessee the first state in the country to make the Bible an official symbol.
Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives attempted an override but failed on a 43-50 vote. The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station), lamented the failure but said he and his colleagues had “made history.”
Thanks to the power of the Religious Right, a number of bad bills have circulated in the states this year that would allow discrimination against LGBT persons in the name of “religious freedom.”
Here are updates on the status of some of those measures.