Action Alert

Support student who halted illegal prayer

Controversy over Prayer at Graduation in Bastrop, La.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the Superintendent of the Morehouse Parish Schools over concerns about a teacher's reaction to the exclusion of prayer at commencement this Friday, May 20, at Bastrop High School in Bastrop, La. After graduating senior Damon Fowler complained to the superintendent about the prayer being illegally scheduled for commencement, school officials properly dropped the prayer from the ceremony. The Bastrop Daily Enterprise quote English teacher Mitzi Quinn saying that in the past, non-Christian students "had no problems" with prayer, adding, "They respected the majority of classmates and didn't say anything." Quinn added, "And what's even more sad is this is a student who really hasn't contributed anything to graduation or to their classmates." (Damon never had a class with this teacher.)

In FFRF's letter, FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt asked for disciplinary action to be taken against Ms. Quinn, saying, "To openly state that this student hasn't contributed to his classmates is harsh, hurtful and clearly lessens the reputation of this student."

FFRF has offered Damon a $1,000 student activist award for his courage in speaking out for his and other students' rights. Local reaction towards him has been extremely hostile.

FFRF has very few members in North Louisiana, so it would be very helpful if the superintendent and school board members could hear from you even if you don't live in the area. It would also be helpful to send a supportive letter to the editor to the Bastrop Daily Enterprise.

TALKING POINTS

It is unconstitutional for public schools to sponsor prayer at graduation ceremonies or other school events. School districts and their employees, including teachers, need to remain neutral toward religion. Ms. Mitzi Quinn's statements to the Bastrop Daily Enterprise are inappropriate and derogatory remarks towards a student who is protecting his constitutional rights. We want the school district to take all appropriate steps to make graduation a celebration for all students, including Damon.

CONTACT

For maximum effectiveness, write as an individual and not as someone responding to an Action Alert. Please do not forward this Action Alert to members of the School Board or the media. We are pleased to receive "blind" ("BCC") copies of your messages and correspondence by e-mail at .

Tom Thrower, Superintendent
Online contact form
Phone: 318/281-5784

Morehouse Parish School Board
Karen Diel: Online contact form
Phone: 318/283-5995
Louis Melton: Online contact form
Phone: 318/283-2923
Ronald Vollmar: Online contact form
Phone: 318/647-5246
Jeff Churchwell: Online contact form
Phone: 318/281-9711
Mike Stephens:Online contact form
Phone: 318/281-1293
Ricky Smith:Online contact form
Phone: 318/417-1196
Robert Fenceroy: Online contact form
Phone: 318/556-3303

OTHER ACTION

Consider commenting on this biased article from the Bastrop Daily Enterprise. (To comment, you will need to register with the website.) You may also wish to vote in the (biased) poll found at the right-hand side of the site.

Write a letter to the editor:
Bastrop Daily Enterprise
119 East Hickory
Bastrop, LA 71220
Mark Rainwater, Editor (also the author of the linked article)

Watch and comment on this biased TV news report from KTVE NBC 10, El Dorado, Arkansas/Monroe, Louisiana.

Offer Damon your personal support on his post on Reddit.com.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

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FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.