The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the district last month:
The purpose of this letter is to advise you that such school-sponsored fundraising efforts — the proceeds of which go directly to an evangelical Christian Church — must immediately cease, and that our organization will pursue the matter through litigation in federal court if it does not.
None of this is to suggest that the School District should not be participating in charitable endeavors. To the contrary, the AHA strongly supports charity giving. Such good intentions, however, can be pursued in innumerable other ways that do not involve religion.
Looks like the letter worked.
Yesterday, the Dorchester School District Two “agreed not to sponsor or endorse churches and religious institutions in the future.”
“We strongly support charitable giving, but the good intentions of fundraisers and food drives can be achieved in ways that do not favor any religion,” said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Just as a Christian family might be reluctant to support a public school fundraiser that benefitted a Muslim organization, non-Christian families can feel uncomfortable supporting Christian institutions.”
That’s really the takeaway here, no matter how Christian groups spin this. No one is against the students fundraising for charity. But there’s just no reason for a public school to benefit the proselytization efforts of a local church. There are plenty of causes out there that do amazing things without advancing a particular religious belief. Just about any of them would be acceptable.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)