The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on September 21, 2022 to challenge the unconstitutional funding of a private religious educational institution in the state of South Carolina. State lawmakers earmarked $1.5 million in the budget for 2022 to go to Christian Learning Centers of Greenville County to help get its new facility off the ground. CLC is a private religious educational institution whose mission is to “provide biblical instruction for public school children at no cost.” Its faculty is a “group of Christ-centered educators who have a passion for teaching and sharing God’s Word with our youth,” to quote the organization itself. Students are encouraged to “spread the news” to others to “ELECT JESUS.” For 25 years, the Christian group has provided biblical release-time instruction to students in Greenville County schools.
The lawsuit challenges the appropriations bill for 2022-23 that designates this funding. It argues that it violates the South Carolina Constitution, as well as the rights of all citizens and taxpayers of the state of South Carolina, including plaintiffs and those who are similarly situated
The case was filed on behalf of four South Carolina taxpayers — Christopher Parker and Ian Whatley, both Greenville County residents, and Gere Fulton and Michael Brown, both Richland County residents — against defendants South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, Treasurer Curtis Loftis Jr. and Education Superintendent Molly Spearman. Three of the plaintiffs are members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Parker, who has children in the Greenville County Schools, is familiar with the intent of Christian Learning Centers to evangelize students.
The plaintiffs are represented by local attorney Steven Buckingham, as well as FFRF attorneys Patrick Elliott and Karen Heineman. This case is in The Court of Common Pleas in Richmond County, SC.
(Pictured: Max Nibert. AP Photo/Leah M. Willingham)
The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of parents and students against the Cabell County Board of Education in West Virginia over a Christian revival held at Huntington High School on Feb. 2, 2022. Also named as defendants are School District's Superintendent Ryan Saxe and Huntington High School Principal Daniel Gleason. Nearly a dozen parents and students are named as plaintiffs.
This lawsuit challenges not only a revival event held at the school but the Cabell County Board of Education and its school administrators' history of disregarding the religious freedom of their students and promotion of Christian religious practices. This revival featured Evangelist Nik Walker, who runs Nik Walker Ministries. The event was billed as voluntary, however, two teachers escorted their entire classes to the revival. Some students, including a Jewish student, asked to leave but were not permitted to do so. Students were instructed to bow their heads in prayer and raise up their hands and were warned they needed to make a decision to follow Jesus or face eternal torment. Adult volunteers from a local church went into the crowd to pray with students. Students also observed teachers and administrators praying with church volunteers. Huntington High Principal Daniel Gleason was present at the assembly along with assistant principals.
In response to the revival, more than 100 students participated in a walkout in protest one week later. This was led by a high school senior, and named plaintiff, Max Nibert.
This revival is not the first time that FFRF has contacted the District regarding religious entanglement issues. FFRF has written several legal complaint letters over adult proselytizing, prayer and religious practices aimed at students within Cabell County Schools.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Marcus Schneider and Kristina Whiteaker, as well as FFRF attorneys Patrick Elliott and Christopher Line. This case is in the Southern District of West Virginia District Court before Judge Robert C. Chambers with the case number 3:22-cv-00085.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation along with a coalition of service and advocacy organizations have filed a lawsuit against eight federal agencies for undoing rules that protect those receiving social services from being discriminated against.
Previously, federal rules had required faith-based organizations that provided critical, tax-payer funded services to inform recipients of their legal right to not be discriminated against, not to have to attend religious programming, and to be given the option for a referral to an alternate provider. The rules helped protect the most vulnerable from being forced to attend a Bible study or join in a prayer in order to access basic rights such food or shelter. Now, those who are seeking these services may needlessly opt into religious activities or forgo assistance altogether in order to avoid participation.
This lawsuit seeks to have this new rules declared a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act and reverse the rollback of these important protections.
The case (1:21-cv-00475) is in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. This case is currently stayed while the new Biden administration proposes changes to the rules.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and a coalition of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on May 23, 2018, against Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin seeking the removal of a massive Ten Commandments structure from the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol.
FFRF and its co-plaintiffs assert that this installation is in clear violation of constitutional precepts. The plaintiffs include FFRF, the American Humanist Association, the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, as well as seven individual plaintiffs who are religious and nonreligious citizens of Arkansas.
“The state of Arkansas has erected an enormous religious monolith on government property in blatant disregard for the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the suit states. “The new monolith — a 6-and-one-third-foot tall Ten Commandments statue — stands prominently on the state Capitol grounds.”
The suit details how the Arkansas Legislature initiated this unconstitutional move.
“In 2016, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 1231, the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act,” it states. “The purpose of the act was to permit the placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol. The exact text of such a monument was prescribed by the General Assembly.”
The plaintiffs seek a declaration that the monument is unconstitutional, an injunction directing the defendant to remove the monument, and costs and attorneys’ fees. The lawsuit was consolidated with a case brought by the ACLU of Arkansas. The conjoined cases (No. 4:18-cv-00342) are before Judge Kristine G. Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Attorney Gerry Schulze is representing the plaintiffs along with FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott, and AHA attorneys Monica Miller and David Niose.