Legal staff busy preparing, sending complaint letters

A summary of legal complaints sent by FFRF legal staff since the last issue of Freethought Today. (ISD is Independent School District.)

Contact: Hardin-Jefferson ISD, Sour Lake, Texas
Violation: After receiving a letter from FFRF about a teacher-run Christian club in an elementary school, the teachers wrote an “open letter” to parents asking them to pray for the club, The letter said the club would now be student-led but urged parents to encourage their children to share with the group and told parents to contact one of the three employees to “avoid conflicting speaker scheduling.”
Two district classrooms have crosses on their walls, the high school’s football games open with prayer and the school song includes the line “and when the year is over, God bless our school.”

Contact: Waller ISD, Houston, Texas
Violation: The district’s high school had a poster in its library entitled “The Bulldogs’ Prayer.” The school also solicited faculty to advertise a “Bulldogs Cure for Cancer” T-shirt with the word “Faith” on the back.

Contact: Habersham County Sheriff, Ga.
Violation: The sheriff’s Facebook page regularly posts religious messages, including a lengthy prayer posted on Sept. 11 and misattributed to Thomas Jefferson.

Contact: Chester County Commission, West Chester, Pa.
Violation: The county’s holiday display includes a nativity and a menorah among other decorations. FFRF urged the commission to include a local freethought group’s “Tree of Knowledge” display.

Contact: Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, Ada, Okla. Violation: Course instructors and materials repeatedly promoted religion and a belief in God. Contact: East Whittier City School District, Calif.
Violation: Teachers at East Whittier Middle School and Granada Middle School participate in weekly bible study classes with students during lunch.

Contact: Clinton County R-III School District, Plattsburg, Mo.
Violation: Clinton County R-III Middle School’s principal writes bible verses on the whiteboard in his office and places a bible on his desk in full view of students and visitors.

Contact: Poudre School District, Fort Collins, Colo.
Violation: A Laurel Elementary School kindergarten teacher had a picture hanging on her classroom wall with a bible quote, “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14.”

Contact: Yukon City Council, Okla.
Violation: The council voted to display “In God We Trust” in the council’s chambers Contact: Clinton Public Schools, Madison County Schools, Pearl Public School District, Miss.
Violation: These schools participated in a swim meet which opened with a Christian prayer facilitated by meet organizers.

Contact: Seminole County Attorney, Fla.
Violation: A county employee in the Water and Sewer Billing Department sends messages to county residents from her county email with a bible quite in her signature, “Thank God for everything, be Grateful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18.”

Contact: Texas A&M University, College Station
Violation: The university began broadcasting prayers over the loudspeaker at football games and also includes prayer at graduation.

Contact: Mayor of Huntington, W.Va.
Violation: The mayor organized a prayer event to end addiction, releasing a video asking local religious leaders to join him in prayer.

Contact: Mansfield City Council, Texas
Violation: The council denied a local atheist the opportunity to give its invocation.

Contact: Madison County School District, Fla.
Violation: A private religious event occurring at the district’s high school was extensively advertised on the grounds of Madison County Central School.

Contact: Cranston Public Schools, R.I.
Violation: Western Hills Middle School students were given a story entitled “A Mustard Seed that Threatened Imperial Power,” presenting the biblical account of Jesus and his apostles as factual, and a game titled “The Medieval Church,” which quizzed students on the origins of Christianity as presented in the bible and Christianity in the Middle Ages, while ignoring historical events like the Crusades that would portray Christianity negatively.

Contact: Naval Base Kitsap, Bremerton, Wash.
Violation: The base’s pinning ceremony, which was mandatory for all officers being promoted, included an invocation and a benediction.

Contact: North Georgia State Fair, University of Missouri volleyball, Mellow Mushroom restaurant, Ala.
Violation: These entities offered church bulletin discounts.

Contact: Poplar Bluff Public Schools, Mo., Thomas-Fay-Custer Unified Schools, Okla.
Violation: Schools broadcast loudspeaker prayers before football games, and the Poplar Bluffs Senior High School team has two team chaplains.

Contact: Iowa Law Enforcement Academy
Violation: The academy included opening and closing Christian prayers at its graduation ceremonies.

Contact: Round Rock ISD, Texas
Violation: Cedar Ridge High School’s internet filter censors websites with information about atheism and certain minority religions as promoting “alternative beliefs,” while granting access to other websites promoting religious ideas.

Contact: Liberty County Elections Supervisor, Ga.
Violation: The Registrar’s Office, which served as the early voting location in Liberty County, displayed bible quotes behind the voter check-in counter.

Contact: Chilton County Schools, Clanton, Ala.
Violation: A bible was prominently displayed in a glass case near the principal’s office at Jemison High School, bible quotes are displayed on banners throughout the school’s hallways during special events, and a teacher regularly displayed bible passages in her classroom.

Contact: U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine
Violation: Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret D. McGaughey, when asked to identify common trends in the profiles of criminal defendants, said, “There was no religion.” She explained that religion “instills moral values in early childhood” that “tend to stick with a person throughout their life.”

Contact: Mesa Public Schools, Ariz.
Violation: Mountain View High School’s marching band dedicated a performance to the military that involved rows of Latin crosses.

Contact: Indiana Academy, Muncie
Violation: A teacher sends regular emails to students promoting a weekly bible study and other religious events like See You at the Pole and a Christian charity drive. She was directly involved with the bible study.

Contact: Valdosta City Schools, Ga.
Violation: Pinevale Elementary School displayed a Ten Commandments poster in its library. Contact: Paris School District, Ark.
Violation: Paris Middle School allowed Gideons to distribute bibles to fifth graders, announcing the distribution as part of its morning reports.

Contact: Fauquier County Public Schools, Warrenton, Va.
Violation: A substitute bus driver at Grace Miller Elementary School passed out fliers promoting a church’s services and events.

Contact: Washington Department of Licensing
Violation: The department’s personalized license plate application prohibits plated deemed to be “blasphemous.”

Contact: Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., Ind.; Anniston City Schools, Ala.; White Oaks ISD, Texas; Camas School District, Wash.
Violation: Coaches led athletes in prayer and/or participated in students’ prayers.

Contact: Homewood City Schools, Ala.
Violation: Football teams have a team chaplain that leads prayers and sometimes delivers a sermon. Church representatives are permitted to circulate around lunchrooms and recruit students. A Christian club organized by a teacher meets weekly. Students who arrive at school before classes are required to congregate at the club, which operates essentially as a church, with a youth pastor leading a worship service.

Contact: Walker County Board of Education, Ga.
Violation: This school board prays at their meetings.

Freedom From Religion Foundation