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Minnesota Public School Told to End Field Trips to Christian Church

Humanist Legal Center Involvement Comes after Family Complaint Brushed Off

For Immediate Release


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

(Washington, DC, Feb. 3, 2014) — A Minnesota public school is being warned by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center to stop sending students on unconstitutional field trips to a nearby Christian church to create “manna” packages for a Christian nonprofit group. The letter was sent today by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC) to the administrators of the School of Engineering and Arts in Golden Valley, MN, Principal Kim Hiel and Executive Director of Academics Lori Simon after the AHLC was alerted to the violation by a family enrolled in the suburban Minneapolis school. The letter asserts that the “school has quite clearly violated the Establishment Clause by directing students to attend a pervasively Christian, proselytizing environment.”

The church in question, Calvary Lutheran Church, is associated with the Feed My Starving Children program, which describes itself as believing “that there is one God, in three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

“For public school administrators to send students to a religious environment to work on a religious mission with a religious organization is unconstitutional,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center attorney Monica Miller. “This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state.”

The letter states, “We fully understand that at least one purpose of this field trip was to have the children participate in charity work intended to assist poverty-stricken people. Such good intentions, however, can be pursued in innumerable other ways that do not involve immersing the unsuspecting children into a theologically-charged environment.”

School administrators refused a previous request from the family to stop the practice after their complaint was made last year.

The letter asks for a reply within two weeks.


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.