Changes in Minnesota school district slowly taking root (January 8, 2014)

Since 2010, FFRF has received multiple complaints about prayer at Pillager Public School events in Minnesota. In 2010, FFRF objected to a prayer led by a pastor at a Veterans Day assembly for all K-12 students. Superintendent Chuck Arns gave assurances that prayers would not recur at future events. Nevertheless prayers at some events continued. Most recently, an invocation by a pastor was included as part of a National Honor Society ceremony in November 2013.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote to the attorney for the school district about the continuation of prayers at school events. The letter requested that “the District Superintendent issue a memorandum which makes absolutely clear that prayers are not permitted as part of school-sponsored events, which includes all events organized by school staff. We also request that all staff who plan school events are trained on the legal necessity to immediately cease scheduling prayers.”

The attorney for the school district replied on Jan. 8, 2014, saying, “In the next week, Superintendent Arns will address all school administration and others who could be responsible for planning school events. He will remind them that during school-sponsored events, there shall be no religious expression or instruction, whether in the form of prayer or references to the bible.” FFRF members with students in the district have said that they will monitor future school activities involving their children to ensure compliance.

Freedom From Religion Foundation