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Humanist Group Denounces Public School for Promoting Religious, Abstinence-Only Program

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., Dec. 9, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on behalf of a concerned parent to officials at Luverne Public Schools in Luverne, Minnesota, objecting to students being sent to a presentation given by a Christian theologian promoting “purity” culture. The letter alleges that the school failed to adequately inform parents and students about the nature of the talk and that the event violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The letter states that on September 30, during school hours, students were sent to a presentation by Jason Evert, a Christian speaker and the founder of the Chastity Project, a program that promotes prayer, scientifically unsound abstinence-only sexual education and “purity” culture, a concept advanced by many conservative Christian churches. The event was sponsored by an anti-abortion group, and students were given materials that directed them to the Chastity Project’s website, which is filled with religious content, and to an anti-abortion counseling center. Students and parents were not informed of the speaker’s religious mission or of the religious aspects of the event beforehand, as flyers about the event were nondescript.

“Public school students do not need religious sermons and propaganda as a substitute for legitimate healthcare education. When a public school presents religiously biased materials as a health curriculum, it not only unconstitutionally violates the separation of church and state but also does a disservice to our young people,” said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.  

The letter demands written assurances from school officials that similar programs will not be endorsed by the school in the future.

A copy of the letter can be found 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.