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

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

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

With the number of Christians declining and the unaffiliated rising in the US, w...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Ethical Dilemma: How much would you change for your significant other's beliefs?

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone!

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

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

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Bob Diven, AHA celebrant in New Mexico, recently participated in a debate about...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Washington DC does something right, and we aren't talking about the feds!

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

On May 13, the AHA joined other members of the National Coalition for Public Edu...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Ethical Dilemma: What to do about a rude house guest. Tell us your experience w...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss the Humanist Institute's upcoming "Ask Me Anything" session with Kris...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

On this week's episode of the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo Bennett interviews singe...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

A very happy 127th birthday to Inge Lehmann, the Danish seismologist and geophys...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do community events like "Draw Mohammad" contests promote freedom of speech or j...

11 days ago