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Public Elementary School Can’t Fundraise for Church, Says Humanist Group

For Immediate Release

Contact:

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

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

(Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 2014)— Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on behalf of elementary school parents to officials at Dorchester School District Two in Summerville, South Carolina,  regarding Oakbrook Elementary School’s unconstitutional fundraising efforts for a local evangelical church.

According to the letter, the elementary school’s student council, which is run by a teacher, is organizing and promoting a fundraiser to aid a local evangelical Christian church, Old Fort Baptist Church. The fundraiser, advertised through flyers given to the students and their parents and on the school’s website, involved the sale of “thank you grams,” which students are encouraged to purchase and have delivered to their classmates and teachers during homeroom. All of the proceeds raised from the “thank you grams” will go directly to the local church to aid in its mission trips to proselytize Christianity. Oakbrook Elementary School is also participating in a food drive, the proceeds of which will be donated to Old Fort Baptist Church as well.

The letter states that while the American Humanist Association strongly encourages charitable giving, there are innumerable ways in which the school can assist those in need that do not involve using public resources to promote a specifically religious agenda. The letter also states that because the fundraisers serve no secular purpose and constitute state-sponsorship of religion, the school is violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The letter demands that the school district immediately cease its fundraising efforts to support the church.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., 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.