For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C., Aug. 25, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the Jackson Public School District in Jackson, Mississippi, on behalf of a teacher who objected to the overtly religious nature of a mandatory convocation.
The letter states that on Aug. 12, 2014, the district hosted a compulsory assembly for public school teachers at the Mississippi Coliseum. A Christian reverend was invited to give the opening prayer at the event. His remarks included Christian prayers, a church-themed call and response with the audience and specific references to Scripture, such as Psalm 23 and 1 Corinthians 4:5. The three hour-long convocation also included other speakers, many of whom made references to Biblical passages, “Lord” and “God.”
“Given the numerous cases holding that prayers and sermons at public school-sponsored events violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, it’s shocking that the district would include such blatantly religious practices at a compulsory convocation,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
“When public schools get unnecessarily involved in supporting sectarian prayer at educator events, they disregard the rights of teachers of other religions and those of no religion,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.
The letter demands that that the school district offer assurances that it will cease to include religious elements in future events, especially convocations.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
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.