AHA News |  

Humanists File Suit over Weekly Prayers in Missouri High School Classroom

Administration Complicit in Supporting Religious Activities During School Hours

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Maggie Ardiente, mardiente@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x116
Monica Miller, mmiller@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x 120

(Washington, DC, Nov. 20, 2013) — The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed suit today in U. S. District Court against school officials in Fayette, MO, demanding an end to teacher-sponsored and school-promoted classroom prayer sessions at Fayette High School.

Activities outlined in the lawsuit include weekly Christian “devotional” prayer sessions led by a teacher in her classroom during school hours, students being told by the teacher that God will punish them if they are not good, exclusive morning announcements by the principal over the school public address system promoting the prayer sessions, the prominent display of the book “God’s Game Plan” in a classroom during class time, and using school-owned equipment and materials to print fliers for the prayer sessions.

“It is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause when public school officials encourage their students to pray or participate in prayer activities with them,” said Monica Miller of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “It is unfortunate that we have reached a point where court action is necessary to address a problem that the school could have resolved voluntarily on its own.”

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter, dated May 15, 2013, outlining the reasons why the school-sponsored and -promoted classroom prayers 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.’”

The complaint can be found online here.

###

Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

American Humanist Association

In this episode, Bo Bennett and Todd Stiefel speak with Dr. Susan Blackmore abou...

13 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Halloween everyone! Look both ways. Don't Drive Drunk. Stay in Character....

14 hours ago

American Humanist Association

The Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, an AHA chapter in Charleston, SC, creat...

16 hours ago

American Humanist Association

I think this might be more scary than the haunted houses I'm used to...

18 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Check out the AHA staff's favorite scary films! http://thehumanist.com/arts_ente...

20 hours ago

American Humanist Association

In recent years, debates have grown over the place of atheists, agnostics, and n...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Did you know about the new social media site, Ello? Neither did we. But hey, we...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Prisoners dodging the rules because of religious exception?

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Secular Americans are showing their political side!

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Humanist Celebrant Dan Moran had the honor of performing the first humanist bab...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

DC Metro area humanists! Join us this Wednesday for happy hour at Mai Thai in NW...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's David Niose in AlterNet today, explaining why rational public policy will...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

This full-page advertisement ran in the Denver Post newspaper this week in respo...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Who caught the latest episode of The Good Wife? The most recent episode of the n...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do you ever get so overwhelmed with the saturation of religion in everyday life...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week, an apology to a student in southern California will be delivered afte...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

School is a place where students should feel safe regardless of race, religion,...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

There are several volunteer regional grassroots coordinator positions available...

5 days ago