First Amendment Challenge: Freedom of religion

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Alina Abidi

Religion. Speech. Press. Assembly. Petition. The First Amendment of the Constitution establishes these five fundamental freedoms which have become essential liberties in the United States of America. So in honor of Scholastic Journalism Week, we are participating in the 1 For All First Amendment Challenge to show you — the Monta Vista community — the importance and relevance of the crucial amendment at MVHS. Each day of this week, we will be publishing a short video highlighting one of the freedoms so by Friday night, we will have covered the entirety of the First Amendment.

Today we kick off the challenge with the first freedom of the amendment: religion.

It’s taught as fact, but received by some as theory. The concept of evolution is central to the material in the second semester of the freshman Biology course — a standard class — and is taught and tested upon as a major topic. Students, while expected to understand the material, are not required to accept the concept as fact — teachers simply present the information and give room for students to make their own conclusions, whether they align to the material or not. Freedom of religion, guaranteed by the first amendment, grants students this right. With evolution contradicting some religions’ beliefs, forcing a student to accept the theory violates his or her constitutional right to practice religion.

“Our position is — and this is what the law says — that students are entitled to their freedom of religion, but in Science class we study science,” Andrew Goldenkranz, Head of the Science department said. “You can have whatever religious beliefs you want, but here we’re going to study the facts and theories of science as we know them. Students can always assess evidence and see what conclusions they’re going to reach.”
Additional reporting by Colin Ni