By: Robin Murray-o'hair Re: Re: School Officials Promise Action SCHOOL OFFICIALS PROMISE A

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By: Robin Murray-o'hair Re: Re: School Officials Promise Action SCHOOL OFFICIALS PROMISE ACTION ON SHOWING OF RELIGIOUS MOVIE IN PUBLIC SCHOOL Atheist Group Described the Film as "Pure Religious Indoctrination" by Conrad F. Goeringer There are more developments in the case of a Salt Lake City school which showed sixth-grade students a religious film, ostensibly as part of a "social studies" curriculum. News of the incident was made public during the week of April 17 when American Atheists asked school officials to investigate the circumstances behind the showing of the movie "Where Jesus Walked." The one-hour video was produced by United Christian Productions, Inc. The cover jacket said the film was a "Video Journey Through Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jericho, Capernaum and Jerusalem." "This video journey stands as a witness to the Divinity of Jesus Christ and His bountiful love for all mankind." Chris Allen, Utah spokesman for American Atheists, sent letters to the local school district and the State Superintendent of Education, charging that the filming violated numerous state laws and education department regulations. "I have never seen a more serious violation of the First Amendment anywhere in the Utah schools," noted Allen, "and I am amazed that this was condoned and approved." American Atheists demanded that action be taken to make sure that "Where Jesus Walked" would not be shown in the state school system, and that officials issue a public policy for violating the First Amendment rights of students and parents. "It is religious prejudice perpetrated on Atheist, Jewish and other non-Christian children and their families", said Allen. Yesterday, there was word that while the film had been shown, the sound track had supposedly been turned off while the teacher lectured the class. In another press release, American Atheists claimed that the sound could indeed be heard according to at least one student. The American Atheist action received extensive coverage in both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News. The Tribune reports that Granite School District Assistant Superintendent Briant Farnsworth says the district is "reviewing" the movie and will decide whether disciplinary action will be taken against the teacher involved. Other controversies in Utah have involved a West High choir singing religious christmas songs and a Bingham High basketball coach conducting pre-game prayers; American Atheists' spokesman Richard Andrews cited these incidents as "cause to doubt (the state school system's) commitment to separation of church and state." The Granite film showing took place on March 17; the movie was shown to about 90 students. --30-- * WCE 2.0/2394 * Dial-THE-Atheist (512) 458-5731

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