Students at Norris City-Omaha-Enfield High School Ask for Legal Help
For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC, Jan. 22, 2014) — Prayers offered under the authority of a southern Illinois public high school’s administrators during graduation ceremonies must end, demands a letter from the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. The legal center is representing students from Norris City-Omaha-Enfield High School in Norris City, IL in their quest to have the regularly occurring unconstitutional practice stopped.
The letter, sent today via email, informs District Superintendent Dr. Cliff Karnes and Principal Matt Vollman that “the Supreme Court has made clear that prayers offered at public school graduation ceremonies violate the Establishment Clause because they unconstitutionally coerce students to participate in a religious exercise,” also noting that “prayers offered at school-sponsored events such as graduation ceremonies are unconstitutional regardless of whether they are delivered by students or outsiders.”
“Public school students have every right to be free of religious coercion by the school system,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Attorney Monica Miller. “I hope school administrators do what is necessary to insure future graduation ceremonies do not continue this violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
The letter asks for a response within two weeks.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious 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.