AHA News |  

Humanist Group Files Motion of Contempt Against Public School for Prayer

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Merrill Miller, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 ext. 105

Monica Miller, mmiller@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 ext. 120

(Washington, DC, May 7, 2014)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center has filed a motion of contempt against the Rankin County School District in Mississippi and its administrators for including a prayer in a school ceremony. This school-sponsored prayer violates a federal judge’s ruling requiring the school district to comply with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

In April, the school district hosted an awards ceremony for students that included a formal prayer delivered by a Christian pastor. The prayer was Christian in nature and made a specific reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Students were asked to stand and then bow their heads for the prayer. Students were also told to wear “church attire” to the event, which was held days before Easter Sunday. The American Humanist Association contends that the public school district’s actions unconstitutionally endorsed religion and coerced students into participating in a religious observance.

“Public schools are not in the business of prayer. Specifically making time for prayer in assemblies and award ceremonies threatens our nation’s constitutional principles and disregards the rights of our children,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

“Precedent set by both the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal courts clearly affirms that prayer in public schools violates the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state and infringes upon the religious liberty of non-adherents,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “It’s shocking that the school would so blatantly violate the Establishment Clause and the rights of its students.”

In April 2013, the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of local high school students against the Rankin County School District for sponsoring mandatory student events that contained religious proselytizing. In November, a federal court ruled that the school’s actions violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.    

The memorandum of law can be viewed 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

Breaking News! The American Humanist Association has chosen a new honorary presi...

20 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Looking for a good summer read? Try the new book by award-winning journalist, We...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Yale Humanist Community is hosting an exciting week of free, open to the public...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Last Tuesday, CNN aired a special on atheists attempting to expose the "true" se...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association is saddened by the tragic death of Bangladeshi...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Sadly, another writer has been brutality murdered. The 27 year old Washiqur Rahm...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Last week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Be Bennett and Kim Ellington spoke with...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Institute for Women's Policy Research says that women may not achieve equal...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday to all of you wonderful people! Here is the computer scientist and...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Should you hide who you are in order to get what you want?

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

How do race and religion shape the millennial generation's views on sexual/repro...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Take a look at how things are changing for the millennial generation from their...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Phil Robertson's most recent hateful comments about non-theists and rape were ou...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

We are happy to announce the 2015 AHA Keynote Speaker for this year's annual con...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Northeast Ohio Humanist Association, to th...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Birthday to the incredible Gloria Steinem! Gloria was AHA's 2012 Humanist...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

We want to hear from you! Please take a minute to complete this survey on the A...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

For those who "liked" our page today after watching last night's CNN segment on...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

This website is so cool! You can buy a t-shirt, poster or tote with the entire...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Our friends at the United Church of Bacon (yes, it's real!) were recently discri...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do you think public schools should continue to observe religious holidays?

9 days ago