Smith v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County
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Smith v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County, 827 F.2d 684 (11th Cir. 1987), was a lawsuit in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the Mobile, Alabama schools could use textbooks which purportedly promoted "secular humanism", characterized by the complainants as a religion.
Parents and other citizens brought a lawsuit against the school board, alleging that the school system was teaching the tenets of secular humanism, an anti-theistic religion. The complainants asked that forty-four different elementary through high school level textbooks be removed from the curriculum. After an initial ruling in a federal district court in favor of the plaintiffs, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that as long as the school was motivated by a secular purpose, it didn't matter whether the curriculum and texts shared ideas held by one or more religious groups. The Court found that the texts in question promoted important secular values (tolerance, self-respect, logical decision making) and thus the use of the textbooks neither unconstitutionally advanced a nontheistic religion nor inhibited theistic religions.
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