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Teacher Accused of Handing Out 'Bible Cookies' and Speaking About His Faith Is Being Investigated by California School District


"The Manteca Unified School District is dedicated to ensure the separation of Church and State as prescribed by law."

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A California teacher is under fire for allegedly handing out "Bible cookies" as rewards and promoting an after-school Bible club — allegations that were recently brought against him by a student at the continuation school.

Luis Velazquez holds a bible during the America for Jesus prayer rally, Friday Sept. 28, 2012, on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. Christian conservatives who blame  moral depravity  for everything from the recession to terrorism are converging on Philadelphia for a rally they hope will spark a religious revival as Election Day nears. Credit: AP Credit: AP

John Alameda, a teacher at New Vision High School in Stockton, California, is being accused of "unlawful proselytization," according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a First Amendment group, KTXL-TV reported.

The unnamed student filed a complaint against Alameda, leading the organization to charge that the purported classroom activity was a violation of the Constitution.

The teacher was accused in a December 29 letter of not only handing out so-called "Bible Cookies," but of also offering extra credit for copying Bible verses.

"We have received a complaint that New Vision High School teacher John Alameda is using his official position to promote an after-school Bible club. We understand that Mr. Alameda not only sponsors the club but also shares his Christian beliefs during school hours and frequently encourages his students to attend the club’s meetings," John McGinnis, a legal fellow for Americans United, wrote to the Manteca Unified School District. "Furthermore, he offers extra credit for copying Bible verses and gives students 'Bible Cookies' as a reward for completing class assignments."

Alameda has not publicly commented, though Manteca Unified School District deputy superintendent Clark Burke issued a statement on the matter.

"The Manteca Unified School District is currently conducting an investigation into the complaint filed by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State," Burke wrote. "While respecting the diversity and beliefs of our community, the Manteca Unified School District is dedicated to ensure the separation of Church and State as prescribed by law."

Americans United is asking that Alameda and others employed by the district "refrain from using their official positions to promote religion," requesting a response within 30 days of the letter's receipt.



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