Friday, January 14, 2005

Fox News Lies ... Again

According to Media Matters Fox News has lied again, this time about the California school that supposedly banned the Declaration of Independence because it mentioned the word God.

In fact, Stevens Creek Elementary School in Cupertino did not ban the Declaration of Independence. As the Cupertino Union School District stated in a November 30 news release, the Declaration is featured in the school's textbooks and is displayed in some school buildings. A December 8 editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle noted, "The Declaration of Independence is not banned from Stevens Creek Elementary School, or any classroom in Cupertino. Copies of the Declaration -- including the passages about the inalienable rights of all men 'endowed by their Creator' and the founders' 'reliance on the protection of divine providence' -- hang in classrooms. It appears in textbooks distributed throughout the district."

Even the lawsuit, which was brought forth on behalf of teacher Stephen Williams by the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund challenging the school's decision to prohibit the handouts, acknowledged that the school has not imposed an outright prohibition on the mention of God or the discussion of religious beliefs in the classroom. The lawsuit recognized that "other teachers are permitted to show films and distribute handouts containing references to God," and that Williams had been permitted to teach "lessons on the origins of religious holidays" during that school year and had provided handouts relating to religion in the past "without any problems." Despite that acknowledgement, an Alliance Defense Fund press release about the lawsuit was headlined "Declaration of Independence Banned from Classroom."

When this story broke I remember thinking that it sounded awfully fishy, and I'm not at all surprised that it was blown out of proportion. The original news stories all seemed to be completely from the teacher's camp with minimal input from the school involved. Fair and balanced and all.