UPDATE: (Washington D.C., September 25, 2018) — Officials at the Stanly County School District ensured, in an email sent September 25, 2018, that school staff has been informed that the post was inappropriate and that the post has been removed from all official social media platforms. The American Humanist Association legal team will continue to monitor this situation and others, as the national See You At The Pole annual event takes place this Wednesday, September 26th.
(Washington D.C., September 25, 2018) – Attorneys at the American Humanist Association (AHA) sent a letter warning officials at Stanly County School District in North Carolina that the district must respect the constitutional rights of elementary school students to a public education free of religious indoctrination. The letter was sent after Millingport Elementary School promoted “See You At The Pole,” an annual prayer event held on school grounds, on the school’s official social media platforms.
“The First Amendment undeniably forbids a public school from encouraging students to pray, especially in the elementary schools where students are highly vulnerable to coercion,” explains Monica Miller, senior counsel at the American Humanist Association. “Millingport Elementary School’s actions in promoting not only prayer but also an entire prayer event flagrantly contravenes Supreme Court precedent.”
The post features an image of a large Christian cross and an invitation for students, staff and faculty to join as the group “prays for our students, our staff, our school.”
The American Humanist Association is demanding that Stanly County School District immediately remove the post and instruct staff to avoid similar religious endorsements in the future.
“The American Humanist Association is committed to protecting the wall of separation between church and state,” confirms Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the AHA. Speckhardt continues, “School-endorsed prayer excludes the many non-Christian students and families that make up this diverse community.”
The American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans, including over 1,300 members in North Carolina. 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 for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
Shake Things Up by Sitting Out the Pledge of Allegiance