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Florida schools tell students they’re God’s ‘own possession’ and promote Christianity: secular group

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A secular group filed a complaint against a Florida school district that opens meetings with Christian prayers and allows teachers to promote religion to their students and colleagues.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter last week to the Levy County School Board asking for an investigation into several possible violations of the constitutional separation of church and state, reported The Gainesville Sun.

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After investigating complaints starting in April, the group reported seven possible violations – including explicitly Christian invocations delivered by the superintendent or school board members.

Teachers also promoted and participated in religious events, including a baccalaureate service held at a Baptist church, with students.

One of those events, the Global Day of Prayer, lasted into school hours at Williston Elementary – where FFRF said teachers display religious-themed messages in their classroom, such as “God danced the day you were born” and “You are a gift of God. His own possession.”

One teacher at the school used her district-issued email account to send weekly Bible passages to other staff members, the investigation found.

Williston High School held its Advanced Placement testing at a local Methodist church, and the school promoted sports-related events at area churches.

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An attorney from FFRF said the group received additional complaints after sending the letter, which noted that 30 percent of Florida adults are non-religious, Thursday to the school district.

The attorney said the group handles thousands of complaints a year, and most require little more action than notifying the proper officials – who frequently are unaware of potential violations.

“Here, the violations are so extensive (that) we’re a little less understanding and believe they probably knew a little bit more than other school districts that we deal with,” said attorney Andrew Seidel, of FFRF.

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An attorney for the school district said he does not believe all the points in the letter are valid, but he said any violations would be corrected to comply with constitutional standards.


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China reports 323 new cases of mysterious virus — as death toll rises to 54

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The number of confirmed deaths from a viral outbreak in China has risen to 54, with authorities in hard-hit Hubei province on Sunday reporting 13 more fatalities and 323 new cases.

The latest numbers from Hubei, the epicentre of the contagion, would put the nationwide total of confirmed infections at 1,610, based on figures previously released by the central government.

President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China faced a "grave situation" as authorities raced to contain a respiratory illness that has caused the widespread abandonment of Lunar New Year celebrations nationwide and overwhelmed health facilities in Hubei.

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California offers to reimburse Trump for abortions — but he has to free the women from non-disclosure agreements

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The state of California is offering to reimburse President Donald Trump for any abortions he's paid for in the state, but there's a catch.

On Friday, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a "notice of violation" against the state for mandating universal abortion coverage in health insurance plans sold in the state, which the administration claims is "unlawful discrimination."

“Once again, President Trump’s administration is delivering on his promise to protect human life and all Americans’ freedom of conscience,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

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2020 Election

Elizabeth Warren wins coveted Iowa caucuses endorsement from the Des Moines Register newspaper

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) received a coveted endorsement on Saturday evening when her 2020 bid was endorsed by the Des Moines Register newspaper.

"Who would make the best president at this point in the country’s history? At a time when the economic deck has become so stacked against working Americans that the gap between rich and poor is the highest in more than 50 years? At a time when a generation of war has stressed military families and sapped the treasury?" the newspaper asked. "The Des Moines Register editorial board endorses Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses as the best leader for these times."

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