Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) is a not-for-profit Corporation formed exclusively for educational and religious purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. COPE’s mission is to promote objectivity in public school curricula that address religious questions and issues so that the educational effect of the teaching is religiously neutral. In this context religion is defined inclusively as an organized set of beliefs about ultimate questions, such as the cause, nature and purpose or meaning of life. It includes traditional theistic religions as well as pantheistic and materialistic religions, including Atheism and Religious ("Secular") Humanism.
U.S. courts have ruled that public school subjects that touch on religion must be (a) omitted from the curriculum or (b) presented objectively so that the effect is religiously neutral. COPE believes that many subjects taught in public education routinely address controversial religious questions in a manner that promotes only one of competing religious viewpoints. This tends to indoctrinate rather than objectively educate with a religiously neutral effect [Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)]. COPE is particularly concerned with curricula that systematically exclude theistic views while teaching only atheistic perspectives.
COPE promotes the religious rights of parents, children, and taxpayers. We support the right of parents to direct the religious education of their children. Once in the classroom, children have the right to be objectively informed about issues that touch on religion.
Religious subjects include those that seek to explain the origin and nature of life and those which tend to profoundly relate the life of man to the world in which he lives. [McGowan v. Maryland (1961)] Public school courses that open these subjects for discussion include origins science, health, psychological and social sciences, religion in history, and other courses that deal with questions of ethics and morality, human sexuality, marriage, family, human behavior, and the sanctity of life. In addition, COPE seeks to enhance public awareness of the need for objectivity in public education regarding subjects that touch on religion.
The word “objective” generally means not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased. Objective teaching avoids indoctrination. It involves teaching methods which seek to reasonably and objectively inform students about, and cause them to critically analyze, competing viewpoints about religious issues and questions.
COPE was incorporated on March 8, 2012, and its application for recognition as a 501(c)(3) organization was filed with the IRS on April 13, 2012. Biographical sketches of the officers and Board of Directors are included on this website. COPE is currently seeking to expand the Board and its membership.
Persons interested may apply for membership in the organization by submitting the form shown on the Join COPE page. COPE will protect the privacy of all who may apply for membership and of all those accepted for membership as explained in the member application form. Members are entitled to receive reports published for members. They may also be notified of opportunities to serve as they arise. Membership does not currently require the payment of dues or fees, and no fees or assessments may be made without the consent of the member.
COPE carries out its mission through policy research, education of the public and government officials, and grassroots mobilization. We review federal and state legislation, study federal and state education standards, analyze local school policies, and publish position papers. The organization may become active in promoting a variety of other initiatives and activities designed to encourage objectivity in the teaching of subject matter that touches on religion.
COPE’s first published work is an analysis and comment on proposed Next Generation Science Standards and its related Framework for K-12 Science Education. That work is reflected in its June 1, 2012, letter to Achieve, Inc.