For Immediate Release
Sam Gerard, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 238-9088 ext. 105
(Washington, D.C., December 16, 2019)— The American Humanist Association’s legal center is demanding that the Somerset Independent School District in Texas remove an unconstitutional religious display at Somerset Early Childhood Elementary school. Prominently displayed on the elementary library bulletin is a quote from the Bible (Genesis 1)—“In the beginning God created…”—accompanied by a large representation of Earth below.
After a parent reported this constitutional violation, AHA’s Legal Director and Senior Counsel, Monica Miller, drafted a letter delivered to the school on Friday. “Religious displays in public schools—especially those that proselytize creationism to impressionable elementary students—violate the Establishment Clause pursuant to decades of binding Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit precedent,” said Miller.
Miller’s letter cites Supreme Court and lower court precedent forbidding public schools from erecting religious displays in classrooms, endorsing Bible scripture, and teaching alternatives to scientific fact, including creationism. The letter also cites legal precedent according elementary students heightened protection under the Establishment Clause. As Miller explained in the letter, “the fact that this Bible creationism display is directed at elementary students makes this already-egregious constitutional violation even more disturbing.”
AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt elaborated such concerns, “Critical tenets of a child’s education are learned in preschools and elementary schools. These environments should be rooted in science and reason and free from religious indoctrination and creation myths.”
The warning letter demands removal of the display and encourages the school district to enact a policy to ensure such church-state separation violations do not reoccur.
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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 worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in 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 and the Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.