For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Tiger, GA, Sept. 8, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to officials at Rabun County School District in Tiger, Georgia, on behalf of a local parent objecting to the school district’s repeated promotion of Christianity.
According to the letter, the school district promoted prayer at student graduations. Primary School Principal Lisa Patterson delivered a Christian prayer with the phrase “In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen” at a second grade graduation ceremony for Rabun County Elementary School held at the Middle School auditorium. On May 29, 2015, she also delivered a Christian prayer at a kindergarten graduation ceremony, held in the Rabun County Primary School cafeteria. When the parent, a non-Christian with nontheist children, voiced his concerns about the faculty-led prayers to the superintendent, he also noticed a sign outside the Rabun County School Board building prominently the word “Jesus.” The parent’s concerns, addressed only with a vague voicemail from the superintendent in July, were not adequately dealt with by the district.
“The courts have been virtually unanimous in holding that prayers delivered at public school graduation ceremonies violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, especially when the prayers are delivered by school officials,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The ‘Jesus’ sign prominently displayed on school property promotes an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity and must be removed immediately.”
“Students attend school to learn, not to be berated with prayers and religious messages,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Public schools must respect the rights of all students to an education without religious intimidation.”
The letter demands that the school district remove the “Jesus” sign from its property. It also demands that the school district provide written assurances that prayers will not be delivered at graduation ceremonies or other school-sponsored events and that public school property will not be used to endorse Christianity or religion in any way.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
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.