A student recently told a group of humanists in Texas in that she won a scholarship by standing up for her beliefs after her high school teacher compared atheism to smoking cigarettes.


At a Humanists of Houston meeting last week, 19-year-old Sara Elizabeth Sheppard explained that she decided to use her cell phone to record her high school economics professor after he "started to talk about religion in an inappropriate manner."

During the one lecture, the teacher claimed that atheism was against human nature, and that "the mind rejects the concept of atheism" just like the body rejects smoking. The next week, he taught a lesson advocating prayer for a positive state of mind.

Sheppard provided the recordings to the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), which contacted the Katy school district. The school superintendent replied with a letter thanking Sheppard and FFRF.

"We have conducted a thorough investigation and have taken appropriate action," the letter said.

A friend who was in the same class the next semester told Sheppard that the teacher had said that she "took away his right to talk about Jesus."

Sheppard wrote about her experience for the Freedom From Religion Foundation Scholarship Essay contest and won the fourth place prize of $500 in August.

"I had a few friends in the same class that were angry with me and said I destroyed his freedom to religion, but in reality his actions were unconstitutional and were not related to economics at all," she explained in her essay. "This was economics class, not Sunday school."

"From this event I learned that even though I grew up with a shy personality I can still have a passionate and assertive voice that fights for what is constitutional."

Watch this video from the Humanists of Houston, uploaded Sept. 15, 2013.

(h/t: Friendly Atheist)