For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext.120, email@example.com
(Denver, CO, May 3, 2016)— The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center is appealing a district court’s decision that local families do not have standing to challenge the Douglas County School District’s unconstitutional, repeated endorsement of Christianity. The legal center defends the families’ standing and requests oral arguments before the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
The Appignani Humanist Legal Center asserts in a brief filed yesterday that the local families have been injured by the Douglas County School District’s support for Christian programs, in violation the Establishment Clause. As taxpayers and as parents with children in the district who have been pressured to participate in these religious programs, the families have standing to bring a lawsuit against the school district. The brief demonstrates that the school district has supported evangelical Christian programs, such as Operation Christmas Child, and a proselytizing mission trip to Guatemala through Adventures in Missions™. The school district has promoted school-sponsored fundraisers for these programs and allows faculty to lead and participate in religious student clubs, such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“Children have the right to be free from religious coercion in their public schools,” said Roy Speckhardt. “By fundraising for Christian organizations, the school district is sending the discriminatory message that humanists and other non-Christians are unwelcome in their own school and community.”
“The families are directly injured by their school district’s pervasive promotion of Christianity and will continue to be harmed, unless the Court stops these unconstitutional practices,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Numerous courts have found that encountering even one instance of state-sponsored religion provides grounds for standing, and these families have repeatedly been confronted with the district’s promotion of Christian organizations.”
The appeal asks the court to recognize the families and the American Humanist Association’s standing in the case and prevent the school from committing future Establishment Clause violations.
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.