AHA News |  

Humanists Demand an End to Teacher-Led Prayer Sessions at Missouri High School

Fayette High School Teacher Hosts Prayer Sessions for Students During School Hours

For Immediate Release

Contact: William Burgess, bburgess@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x 102

(Washington, DC, May 16, 2013) —The American Humanist Association’s legal center sent a letter to school officials in Fayette, Missouri, demanding they take steps to end weekly morning prayer sessions held by a teacher at Fayette High School (FHS).

“Students are encouraged to attend these sessions by an announcement made by the principal over the school’s intercom system,” the letter states. “These public school prayer sessions are clearly unconstitutional.”

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s letter, dated May 15, 2013, outlines the reasons why the Friday morning prayers organized and led by Gwen Pope, a FHS teacher, are unconstitutional. “Courts have … consistently ruled that the Establishment Clause prohibits teachers from leading, sponsoring, or participating in prayer with students, whether during school hours or not,” the letter points out. “Not only is leading students in prayer at school unconstitutional, so is ‘inviting or encouraging students to pray.’”

As well as conducting prayer sessions on school grounds during the school day, Mrs. Pope also “prominently displays Christian literature on her desk,” the letter reveals, also a constitutional violation.

“It is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause when a public school official acts in this manner,” said William Burgess, coordinator of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “School system administrators need to take immediate steps to stop these constitutional violations.”

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center, representing a student at the school, has asked that school officials “terminate this and any similar illegal activity immediately.”

The letter can be found online here.

###

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 160 local chapters and affiliates across America. Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation and The Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

American Humanist Association

Carroll County: A Small Maryland Community Gets Big Attention for All the Wrong...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Matthew Bulger, the AHA's legislative associate, reports on our first congressio...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Washington DC, Atheists, Humanists and Agn...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out some photos from yesterday's congressional briefing on humanist celebr...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Our first congressional briefing was a success! The room was completely packed w...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Wonder Works Day Camp in Moscow, Idaho has begun! The first day was a huge succe...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

The briefing on military chaplaincy has begun.

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today, the American Humanist Association will be hosting our first Congressional...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is a video from Harvard's Making Caring Common Project. 5 Ways to Raise M...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why the Way We Live is More Important. Get TheHumanist.com by email once a week...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hey, have a laugh! http://hmn.st/1sFRZ33 Get TheHumanist.com by email once a we...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

No matter how right or how wrong, religion can not establish morality for the ma...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

I have come across this many times. While this topic may not be important to all...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Jesus Cones! A new way to violate church-state separation, in Gwinnett County, G...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Well this is rad! AHA Board Member Herb Silverman is featured in this short (10...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

It may seem silly, maybe even a blatant mockery, but if you really think about i...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

A Blessing in Disguise for Atheists? Check out AHA Legal Director David Niose's...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

This is a very interesting interactive chart explaining bible contradictions, sh...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have you seen the new FYI Network show Married At First Sight? Tell us what you...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Vaccination Exception; God doesn't want me to receive vaccines... Luis Gran...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

With Corporations becoming "people", they will obviously be exploring religion.....

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

An Invocation for Everyone: What the Secular Invocation in Greece, N.Y., Means f...

9 days ago