Atheists Oppose Michigan Religious Diversity Program

December 7, 2003

Source: The Daily Oakland Press

On December 7, 2003 The Daily Oakland Press reported that "Michigan atheists have stopped well short of singing the praises of a religious diversity program sponsored by Oakland County educators, advocacy groups and religious organizations. Groups of students, teachers and administrators from five Oakland County school districts are taking part in the Religious Diversity Initiative - a program funded by the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan and sponsored by the Oakland County Superintendents Association, the Michigan Region of the National Conference for Community and Justice, and the Jewish Community Council. As part of the voluntary, nontaxpayer funded program, participants from the Berkley, Bloomfield Hills, Clarkston, Walled Lake and West Bloomfield school districts are visiting local religious institutions to learn from clergy about the beliefs they espouse. The goal, said program coordinator and Jewish Community Council public relations associate Eric Adelman, is to promote understanding and respect among students of various belief systems... Arlene-Marie, president of the Michigan Affiliate of the American Atheists, argues, however, that bringing public school students and teachers to churches, synagogues, mosques and temples to hear presentations from religious leaders violates the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution... At a recent convention, Michigan Atheists elected to make a campaign opposing the Religious Diversity Initiative a top priority."