Hnn | HNN Articles

Legal Victory! South Carolina Public School Cuts Ties with Evangelical Program

 

School administrators at East Point Academy, a South Carolina public school, have ended their participation in a Samaritan's Purse evangelical gift program after being contacted by the American Humanist Association's Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

The American Humanist Association asked administrators of East Point Academy to stop promoting student participation in Operation Christmas Child, a program run by the evangelical Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse. A letter was sent by the American Humanist Association’s Appginani Humanist Legal Center following a complaint from a parent of a student at East Point Academy in West Columbia, SC about the school’s push for student participation. The American Humanist Association’s press release and legal complaint letter can be found here.

The following letter from Renee Mathews of East Point Academy was sent to parents yesterday and received by the American Humanist Association this morning:

-------------------------------------

November 12, 2013

Dear Parents,

Yesterday I received a letter from Monica Miller, Esq., Legal Consultant, Appignani Humanist Legal Center, American Humanist Association in Washington, DC. According to her letter the AHA has 20,000 members in the USA. In part, her letter stated:

This letter serves as notice to policymaking school officials of the East Point Academy’s unconstitutional conduct and as a demand that the school terminate all promotion, sponsorship, endorsement or affiliation with Operation Christmas Child immediately. Because the law prohibiting school endorsement of religion is well-settled, not only is the school district itself liable for this constitutional infringement pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983, including in the form of punitive damages and the payment of plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, but each and every school official and employee involved are personally liable, in their individual capacities, as well. In order to avoid the necessity of litigation to end your unconstitutional practices, contact us immediately (preferably by email) indicating that you will take the appropriate steps to remedy this clear constitutional violation, including by expressly renouncing any affiliation with or support of Operation Christmas Child and stating that the school will not collect of boxes ontheir behalf or encourage staff or students to do so.

Operation Christmas Child has been a school wide community service project for three years. Last year communications were prepared and distributed by staff of one grade level and again this year, communications were prepared and distributed by staff of one grade level. You may recall receiving a flyer communicating that there were two projects scheduled in the same time period and that parents and students could choose which one they wanted to support or they could support neither since this is not a requirement. I assure you that many public schools in SC and across the United States participate in Operation Christmas Child. The only legal issue that I am aware of that came about in the past was in one public school where students completed a survey about their religious beliefs as part of the collection process. At our school only non-religious items have been collected for the boxes, no religious material is distributed to students or included with the boxes and the school has expended no money for the shipping of the boxes which each voluntary participant paid. No incentives or grades are given for any community service projects. Having said all of this, since we are just receiving this notice at this late date and the project ends Friday, we have very little time to seek legal advice. Therefore, in an abundance of caution because we do not want to expend school financial resources defending a lawsuit, we are not going to accept Operation Christmas Child boxes. If you and your child had planned to donate a shoebox of supplies, you are encouraged to find a charity of your choice for the gift. A reminder that Toys for Tots will continue until December 10 so you are encouraged to participate. Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,
Renee Mathews

--------------------------------------------

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

Congratulations to Jorhat College for becoming the first college in India to acc...

16 hours ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's Legislative Associate, Matthew Bulger, covers last week's congressional br...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

In case you missed Lawrence M. Krauss at AHA's 74th Annual Conference in Denver...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is it a sign!? Move over Jesus toast, there's a new symbol in town. A happy huma...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

#MemorialDay

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Christian numbers are declining, "Nones" are on the rise. Is this just a reactio...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do you think the face of a prominent female historical figure will ever appear o...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

According to Pew Research's latest study, America's religious landscape is chang...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Evangelist Franklin Graham calls on supporters to pray that Ruth Bader Ginsburg...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

George W. Bush gets something right?

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Montgomery Humanists, to the American Huma...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

As we have seen by the recent murders of three nonreligious bloggers—Ananta Bijo...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Jennifer Bardi, editor-in-chief of the Humanist magazine, recaps the AHA's 74th...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Prospective Student Webinar this Thursday! Considering the next class of The Hum...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Help the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers represent humanists at this year's...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Humanist Pioneer Awardee Isaiah Smith, stands up for separation of church and st...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

A South Carolina court has ruled that prayer in public school graduations doesn'...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Right-wing media loves terrorism stories, so how did they all manage to miss thi...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Omaha Metro Area Humanist Association, a chapter of AHA, is participating in Oma...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist, Becky Garrison sits down with Quiet Company's Taylor...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss the Humanist "Ask Me Anything" session with Kristin Wintermute, Execu...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

We love to see our fellow free-thinkers doing what they can to help out humanity...

10 days ago