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Public High School Veterans Day Assembly Can’t Include Prayer, Says Humanist Group

For Immediate Release

Contact:

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

David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, dniose@americanhumanist.org

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

(Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on behalf of a student to officials at St. Mary Parish Schools, a public school district in Centerville, Louisiana, concerning prayer at a school assembly.

On November 11, in Morgan City, Louisiana, Morgan City High School students attended a mandatory Veterans Day assembly on school grounds and during class time. The assembly opened with a Christian prayer, for which students were instructed to stand and bow their heads. The letter states that students were not given advance notice that prayer would be included in the assembly and that the student in question was afraid to leave the assembly for fear of punishment.

“Incorporating prayer into a public school event places the state’s stamp of approval on religion, in this case Christianity, which is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” said Monica Miller, an attorney for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

“Prayer is a personal matter that has no place in a public school assembly,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Including a Christian prayer in a mandatory event coerces students of minority religions or no religion into participating in a practice that contradicts their personal convictions.”

The letter demands that the school district give its assurances that prayer will no longer be a part of school-sponsored events.

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.