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

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, AHA Legal Director Dave Niose talks abou...

2 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Do you or your family have any holiday traditions?

4 hours ago

American Humanist Association

What are you thankful for?

6 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Yet again, Neil deGrasse Tyson breaks down a movie we love! Neil, your'e are su...

24 hours ago

American Humanist Association

We all have a "dark side" but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Psychologist...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

UCoR proudly announces the official launch of the Rhode Island CoR with a bus ad...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

It is wonderful to see so many skeptics, atheists, humanists, and non-theists co...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

How the AHA and local Colorado humanists helped to defeat the anti-choice person...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Suspended for a week for defending evolution? That is a bit of an over-reaction...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

What if you could win $1,000 for telling the world what is important to you? Al...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason, the new b...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Things that make you go hmmm....

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is a cool new Kickstarter campaign to create a children's book for non-bel...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA board member Howard Katz is at Skepticon representing! Make sure to stop by...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

December 2nd is Giving Tuesday. This holiday season, while you are buying gifts...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hey, It's our favorite science guy! Clay Farris Naff talks with past AHA humanis...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Who is ready for Skepticon 2014?! If you are attending the event, make sure to s...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today is National Transgender Day of Remembrance. Today we remember transgenders...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Many people don't believe that a person can be good without a god. What are thos...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Yesterday, AHA's David Niose presented his argument that the phrase "under God"...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

A Congressional hearing on religious accommodations in the armed services is hap...

7 days ago