A Christian teacher at a public high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma is using her position to preach to students. There’s anecdotal evidence she’s doing this, it’s not the first time she’s been caught promoting her radical views to students, and she’s openly admitted suggesting that all teachers should follow her lead. Somehow, though, she’s faced no consequences for any of this, including for putting a “prayer wall” in her classroom.
According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Memorial High School biology teacher Amy Cook created a “prayer room” in the back of her classroom where students could go and pray. It’s a wall littered with Bible verses and the like. That’s problematic enough. But one of her non-Christian students attempted to add a different kind of prayer to the wall; this one asked for the “gods and goddesses” to help students achieve their goals.
Not only was that prayer taken down from the wall, Cook allegedly lashed out at the student:
Mrs. Cook pulled our complainant out of class and berated them for not being a Christian. Mrs. Cook reportedly told our complainant that if they didn’t repent they would “burn in hell” and that she was required to intervene as a “good Christian.” Our complainant reports that principal [Dr. Rebecca] Grooms, and assistant principal [Jim] Vestal are aware of this illegal conduct but have taken no action to correct it.
What’s holding them back? It can’t possibly be a lack of evidence since Cook has openly bragged about her methods. When she ran for political office (which is fine and legal), she wrote on her campaign website about the “liberal brainwashing” and “political indoctrination being slipped into our schools,” and claims she fought back:
As a Christian, I could not remain silent. Silence equals permission. When the LGBTQ national mandate was forced on my students under the guise of SeXXX Education in a 2 week class, I boycotted it and alerted all my students’ parents. It was successfully taken away from most of the students’ young eyes. I continue to model my Faith in God openly in my classroom, because amidst all the confusion I know where they will find true wisdom, strength, and love.
She insisted that modeling her faith didn’t amount to “indoctrination,” which is literally contradicted by the “prayer room” in the classroom. It’s just another page out of the Christian Nationalist playbook. (Cook has since dropped out of the race.)
When Cook’s campaign against accurate, comprehensive sex education occurred, the principal supposedly backed her up because “she is a believer herself.”
On a different website, Cook writes about how Christians are victims in this country (“In some cases it can even result in a loss of employment”) which is batshit insane given what non-Christians have to face on a regular basis. She also calls on other conservative Christians to push back against anything in the curriculum that opposes their fundamentalist religious views:
… I have a proposal. I propose that every Christian teacher decide right now, this very minute, to say no to all curriculum and policy in their school that is anti-Scriptural and dangerous for the souls of our youth. I think…no, I know this is not an impossible fight to win. We CAN have Christian values in our schools again. We CAN have God as the foundation for our students. It is not impossible!… [Satan] knows he is no match for an army of teachers covered by Jesus blood.
Does that include fighting evolution in science class? Literature that may open students’ eyes and challenge their views? History that doesn’t mesh with David Barton’s white-washed lies? She doesn’t elaborate. But we already know sex education is a dealbreaker for her.
Also, just imagine the outcry if a Muslim teacher wrote anything resembling Cook’s insane views.
No one is saying Cook should be fired for being a Christian. Of course she shouldn’t. She should be investigated for using her classroom as a platform to spread Christianity instead of doing her job. And if she can’t keep those two worlds separate, she has no business working at a public school when it’s obvious she’d rather be a preacher anyway.
FFRF is demanding action from school administrators. They shouldn’t look the other way when a Christian teacher is doing something in the classroom that would be front-page news and countless FOX News segments if a non-Christian even suggested it.
[FFRF] is asking that the district take immediate action to ensure that Cook no longer discusses her religious beliefs with students, encourages students to pray, shames students for their religious beliefs or in any way promotes or endorses religion to students. And the district must immediately remove the “prayer room” from Cook’s classroom. Given Cook’s egregious behavior, FFRF is advising that she be terminated, and administrators at the school be reprimanded and reminded of their duties under the law.
“This sort of abusive conduct cannot be tolerated in our public schools,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The freedom of conscience of students, especially those belonging to minority religions — and no religion at all — is in grave jeopardy under such teachers.”
Just because this is happening in Oklahoma, and just because the majority of people likely share Cook’s views doesn’t give her the right to push her ridiculous beliefs on kids when she’s literally being paid to educate them instead.