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School District Moves Training from Chapel after AHLC Objects

For Immediate Release


Amy Couch, 202-238-9088 ext. 105,

David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119,

(Washington, D.C., Aug. 14, 2017)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC) was informed that a mandatory teacher training session for Morongo Unified School District, originally scheduled to take place at Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel on August 17, has been moved to a secular venue. The move comes after the AHLC informed the district’s superintendent, Thomas Baumgarten, of objections last week raised by concerned citizens that the chapel venue was inappropriate.

David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, contacted Baumgarten on behalf of several individuals deeply concerned about the training. “This venue has been problematic in the past, with objections being raised to the distribution of religious literature, proselytizing and prayer, and even concerns about the church’s extreme anti-gay bigotry,” Niose wrote in his August 9th email to Baumgartner. “Perhaps most importantly, there are allegations that at least some of the school board members who selected the venue are affiliated with the church, raising questions of potential conflicts of interest and/or improper efforts to utilize the apparatus of government to favor or endorse a particular religious group and beliefs.”

Shortly after receiving the letter, the superintendent assured attorneys at the legal center that the problem had been resolved. Sources in the district confirmed that the event has been moved to the high school The concerned parties in the Morongo Unified School District are applauding the change in venue and thankful for the American Humanist Association’s support.


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., 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.

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