About a month ago, a coalition of six atheist organizations sent a letter to Louisiana’s Bossier Parish Schools warning them about two key First Amendment violations. If the District didn’t take care of them immediately, a lawsuit could be forthcoming.
The two main issues they were concerned about were that athletes were told they would be “disciplined” for kneeling during the National Anthem and there was a “student-led Christian prayer over the public address system” at a football game. Both are illegal.
It turns out those things are just the tip of the iceberg.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has now sent its own letter to the same District and they have even more violations.
- School events held at churches, including mandatory middle-school choir concerts, kindergarten and middle-school graduation ceremonies and pre-game meals for football players.
- Extensive promotion of religion within school athletic programs, including team devotionals, pre-game prayers led by pastors in student locker rooms, prayers delivered over a stadium loudspeaker and post-game prayers led by coaches on the football field.
- Choir performances that force students to sing almost exclusively Christian worship songs.
- Proselytizing in classrooms by teachers who required elementary students to recite Christian prayers, led elementary students in Christian prayers and told a student of the need for belief in Jesus in order to be a good person.
- Official endorsement of religion, including teachers sponsoring Fellowship of Christian Athletes clubs and encouraging students to participate by handing out promotional materials in class; promoting Bring Your Bible to School Day through banners in schools and bible verses read over an elementary school public-address system; and allowing local churches access to students during the school day to distribute religious materials and invite children to participate in religious activities.
- Teachers promoting creationism in class.
- Religious displays in classrooms and administrators’ offices, including two large Latin crosses hanging in an elementary assistant principal’s office.
How many violations can one District have before a lawsuit needs to be filed?
It’s clear these problems aren’t going to clear up on their own since the District has been letting them go on for years. But they now have seven separate groups paying close attention to them, just waiting to pounce if they don’t start following the law very soon.
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