West Virginia Families Secure Victory in Christian Revival Lawsuit (October 26, 2023)

A student at Hungtington High School in West Virginia holds two protest signs, one of which says "My Rights aree Non-negotiable"

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. FFRF represented nearly a dozen parents and students who were impacted by the event.

This lawsuit challenged 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. The revival featured Evangelist Nik Walker, who runs Nik Walker Ministries. The event was billed as voluntary, however, two teachers escorted their 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.

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 was not the first time that FFRF contacted the District regarding religious entanglement issues. FFRF wrote several legal complaint letters over adult proselytizing, prayer and religious practices aimed at students within Cabell County Schools.

The lawsuit was settled after the Cabell County Board of Education agreed to significant changes in policy that would prevent future violations. The board also agreed to pay $1 in nominal damages to each plaintiff and nearly $175,000 in attorney fees.

The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys Marcus Schneider and Kristina Whiteaker, as well as FFRF attorneys Patrick Elliott and Christopher Line. This case was in the Southern District of West Virginia District Court before Judge Robert C. Chambers with the case number 3:22-cv-00085.

Freedom From Religion Foundation