For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, email@example.com
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2014)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center received a favorable response from Unified School District 473 in Chapman, Kansas, concerning a letter it sent on behalf of a student regarding the unconstitutional inclusion of Christian choir music at a mandatory student assembly.
The letter sent by the legal center on November 19 describes an event held at Chapman High School on November 7 to honor veterans. The one-hour assembly was compulsory for all students from kindergarten through grade 12. At the event, two overtly Christian songs were performed by the choir, “Praise His Holy Name” and “God’s Grand Army.” Both songs made repeated references to “Jesus” and “Lord.” According to the letter, this inclusion of religious music would inevitably be perceived by a reasonable observer as a public school endorsement of Christianity, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The violation was particularly egregious because it presented this Christian message to a captive audience that included impressionable elementary school children. Furthermore, the letter stated that the inclusion of Christian choir music was disrespectful to all non-Christian men and women in the military who have served the United States and died for its freedoms.
In response to the legal center’s request that the school district refrain from including Christian music in future events, the district made written assurances that it will only use secular, patriotic music in its future assemblies honoring veterans and that it will also review its programs for similar events to ensure that no other constitutional violations take place. The legal center is pleased with the school district’s prompt response to the letter and applauds the superintendent for taking corrective measures to ensure that the rights of all students are respected.
A copy of the letter from the Appignani Humanist Legal Center can be viewed here, and a copy of the school’s response 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.