For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, email@example.com
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Purvis, MS, Aug. 24, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to officials at Lamar County School District and Oak Grove Middle School in Purvis, Mississippi, on behalf of a local parent, challenging a teacher’s unconstitutional “prayer requests” board.
According to the letter, an eighth grade math and homeroom teacher created a “Prayer Requests Board” prominently displayed in her classroom. After a student took a picture of the board, the teacher confronted the student, accusing the student of disrespecting the teacher’s religion. The teacher refused to remove the board and insisted that she would keep it in her classroom, even if she had to remove the word “prayer.”
“Students have the right to learn free from bullying by teachers with religious agendas,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “A teacher who insists upon endorsing prayer in class is disrespecting her nonreligious students and students of minority faiths.”
“Numerous cases affirm that public school teachers who pray or promote prayer in class are violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “This instance is particularly egregious because the teacher seems to realize that her actions are illegal, but she insists upon displaying the prayer board and taking prayer requests.”
The letter demands that the district remove the prayer board from the classroom. It also asks the district to provide written assurances that there will be no other unmarked place in the room understood to list prayer requests and that teachers will not use their classrooms to take prayer requests or otherwise advance religion.
A copy of the letter, with an image of the prayer board, 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 nontheistic 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.