For Immediate Release
Sarah Henry, (202) 238-9088, email@example.com
David Niose, (202) 238-9088, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., October 1, 2018) – Attorneys for the American Humanist Association (AHA) have sent numerous complaints to school districts across the country in response to actions taken by school officials to promote the national See You At The Pole Global Student Day of Prayer, held Wednesday, September 26.
“We received a number of complaints regarding inappropriate promotion of prayer events by school officials,” said David Niose, legal director at the American Humanist Association. Niose continued, “The First Amendment forbids public schools from encouraging or mandating student prayer, but unfortunately many school officials see the day as an opportunity to endorse religion.”
In the See You At The Pole events, students gather on school grounds to pray together, usually before the school day begins. Because it is a religious activity, public schools should not promote the event or encourage students to participate, nor should school staff participate in the event. The AHA, however, was contacted by many concerned citizens from around the country reporting that school officials in their communities were promoting and participating in the event.
“Non-Christian students are unfairly marginalized when schools endorse and promote sectarian religious activity,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director at the AHA. “Public schools should be an inclusive space for all students, not made divisive by the favoring of some religious views and practices over others,” Speckhardt concluded.
To report a violation of the mandate of church state separation, please visit the American Humanist Association Legal Center complaint form here.
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 for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.