For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, email@example.com
(Ocala, FL, Sept. 1, 2015)—A United States District Court issued a decision adopting a magistrate’s recommendations that a case brought by local citizens, represented by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, against the city and police department may proceed. The decision comes in response to the city and police department’s objections to the denial of the motion to dismiss the case issued in July.
The case challenges the city and police department’s participation in a prayer vigil in September 2014, which took place over objections from the community and legal warnings. Uniformed representatives of the police department attended the event and led attendees in Christian songs, call-and-response sermons, and prayer. The vigil was also advertised on the police department’s public Facebook page, and the police chief issued a public letter on department letterhead enthusiastically endorsing prayer.
“As the case moves forward, we will continue working to ensure that the constitutional rights of our plaintiffs to a fair and secular government are upheld and that the police department will not show such blatant religious favoritism in the future,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center in November 2014, seeks a declaratory judgment that the police department’s actions violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the police department from endorsing religion or permitting uniformed officers to participate in religious activity.
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.