For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Tiger, GA, Sept. 15, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center received written assurances that prayers would no longer be offered at graduation ceremonies held by the Rabun County School District in Tiger, Georgia.
The letter comes in response to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s warning that Christian prayers offered on two separate occasions by Primary School Principal Lisa Patterson at district-sponsored graduation ceremonies violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. In both instances, the principal concluded the prayers with the phrase “In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.” When a local parent visited the school district superintendent about this issue, his concerns were not adequately addressed. The parent then contacted the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center for assistance.
“Prayers by public school staff at school-sponsored events are blatantly unconstitutional,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Moving forward, the school district must take steps to ensure that students are not subjected to religious coercion through school-endorsed prayers so that all students feel welcome in the district.”
In its response, the school district states that the superintendent met with the principal and “instructed her on the legal prohibitions and limitations regarding administrator-led prayer on school grounds and at school functions.” The letter also assured both the legal center and the parent that “administrator-led prayers will not occur at the Rabun County Elementary School anymore.”
A Georgia Newsday article also stated that a “Jesus” sign displayed on a utility pole near the Rabun County School Board building had been removed.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, 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.