The Freedom From Religion Foundation could use the help of a Colorado citizen who has a child in the Cherry Creek School District in Denver.
A brief background of the case: Last year, Cherry Creek Schools began promoting “40 Developmental Assets” — a program that would help students become “responsible and confident young adults.” That’s all well and good.
The problem was Asset Number 19. It suggested “young adults spend one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution.”
FFRF filed a lawsuit against this endorsement of religion. Obviously, no one needs to be active in a church in order to be a responsible and confident young adult. And this was a breach of church/state separation. FFRF filed the complaint on behalf of parents who had children in the district.
The lawsuit (PDF) was soon thrown out:
In throwing out the Foundation’s original lawsuit, District Judge Maria S. Krieger gave the Foundation 10 days to address her concerns. Krieger held that the 40 Developmental Assets program have “a secular purpose” and ruled that the Foundation could not challenge only one of the 40 assets, but had to contest “the overall package.” She challenged the Foundation to provide facts “sufficient to show that the program, in its full context, advances religion.” Krieger expressed “some doubt” that the Foundation could meet her challenge.
That wasn’t a problem. As it turned out, there were more problems with the Assets than just Number 19.
The Foundation’s refilings document the religious origins and purpose of the assets. “Each of the Assets has a stated biblical underpinning and the history of the Assets program clearly shows that religion is at its core,” states [Foundation attorney Robert R.] Tiernan. Each asset is actually based on specific biblical references. “Service to others,” for instance, is explicitly based on 1 Isaiah 6 and Romans 12:9-13. Revealing affidavits by two Denver men familiar with the “40 Assets” programs were also filed.
“Plaintiffs contend that the 40 Assets taken as a whole constitute a moral code for young people promulgated by the Lutheran religion or a sect thereof,” which violates the First Amendment, as does Asset 19 taken separately.
There’s a smoking gun (PDF), too — a document listing the Biblical references that contributed to creating the 40 Assets, written by the Search Institute (originally known as the Lutheran Youth Group):
The 40 Developmental Assets were developed by the Search Institute… and it is the Foundation’s belief it continues to be heavily financed by the Lutheran Brotherhood. Institute Board Members include representatives of the National Council of Churches, the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, Outreach National Baptist and National Network of Youth Ministries.
The current problem: Since one of the children represented in the lawsuit has graduated, “FFRF is down to a single plaintiff.”
They need someone who supports separation of church and state (not necessarily an atheist) and has a child in the district to join the suit.
This has to happen quickly. No cost is involved. It won’t take up much of your time, either. Anonymity will be preserved.
If you’re interested and able, the relevant contact information can be found here.
(via Splendid Elles)