Secular Group Says Mesa Charter School is Pushing Religion

Cleon Skousen

Heritage Academy Charter School in Mesa has received flak from critics after being accused of pushing religion among its students. Washington DC-based secular group Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently filed a complaint against the school with the Arizona Board for Charter Schools, specifically citing the use of two books written by controversial writer Cleon Skousen.

Critics have raised concern over chapters in the two books that have headings such as “Principles of Law Based on God’s Law” and “All Things Were Created by God.”

The letter states that the curriculum used with the senior students “does not merely acknowledge the influence of religion in the nation's founding, but actively promotes and endorses specific religious views and ideologies… The 5,000 Year Leap focuses heavily on scripture and cites Bible stories as fact.”

Earl Taylor, founder and principal of Heritage Academy, defended the school’s use of Skousen’s books, saying the teachers stress on the teachings of the Founding Fathers, whose ideologies often involved religion. He also said that the books are not covered in entirety during classroom teachings.

“We read the Founders. We try to analyze what made them do what they did. We don't require Bible reading in this school. We don't teach creationism in this school… Every one of those ideas you've read, I can give you a Founder's quote. All (Skousen) is doing is helping the reader understand what the Founders mean,” he said.

Approximately 600 students attend Heritage Academy from Grade 7 to 12. Even though the first official complaint was dismissed by the state earlier this year, Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a second complaint, which is still pending decision.

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