For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Flowood, MS, Nov. 4, 2015)—Rankin County School District in Flowood, Mississippi, has notified all school employees of their duties to comply with the Establishment Clause, in response to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s warning letter about a teacher disparaging atheists in class. The American Humanist Association received the requested written assurances today.
In its letter, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center demanded the district to instruct all employees not to promote religion or disparage atheism. In response, the school district sent an email and letter to all of its employees, reminding them that they must not even give the appearance of promoting religion.
“Under the First Amendment and our court-approved settlement, the school district is obligated to ensure that its employees are not playing favorites on matters of religion but are respecting students’ right to learn free from religious intrusion,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “We are pleased that the district has acknowledged this obligation and has taken the necessary steps outlined in our letter.”
In 2013, the American Humanist Association prevailed in a lawsuit brought on behalf of a student who objected to the district’s sponsoring religious assemblies. In July 2015, a federal judge granted a motion for contempt filed by the American Humanist Association, sanctioning the district for permitting Christian prayers at an award ceremony and authorizing Bible distribution to elementary school students, in violation of the court-approved consent decree.
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.