For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Joplin, Mo., June 22, 2016)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed for summary judgment in its lawsuit challenging the Joplin Public School District in Joplin, Mo., for sending students on a field trip to a Christian sports complex.
In May 2015, the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of a local non-Christian woman and her children, who attend schools in the district. The school district regularly sends students on field trips to Victory Ministry and Sports Complex, a Christian ministry that prominently features religious messages and images throughout its facility. Some of these field trips required parents to sign waivers demanding that they allow Victory Ministry staff to proselytize to their children. The district proceeded with these field trips despite warnings from the American Humanist Association.
“It’s not the place of public schools to push Christian agendas during field trips,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “By coercing students to participate in religious activity, the school district improperly intrudes on parents’ right to determine their children’s religious upbringing.”
“The school district endorses Christianity through these field trips and has caused our clients serious harm by making them feel marginalized in their own community,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “We request the court to enjoin the school district from using Victory Ministry or other religious venues for future field trips.”
In addition to seeking an injunction against the school district, which would prevent future field trips at religious facilities, the motion for summary judgment, filed with the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri, also seeks a declaratory judgment that the school district’s support for religious field trips violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and nominal damages to remedy the past 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.