FFRF ensures non-religious veterans also remembered at school assembly (March 14, 2013)

Thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Pennsylvania elementary school’s assemblies — including their Veterans Day assembly — will no longer include organized prayer.

FFRF was contacted by a concerned parent after Lawrence B. Morris Elementary School, Jim Thorpe, Pa., held a Veterans Day assembly in which a chaplain deliverered an invocation and a closing prayer.

FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert contacted Dr. Barbara Conway, superintendent of the Jim Thorpe Area School District, in a Nov. 21, 2012 letter. Markert requested that future school events not include school-sponsored prayer, consistent with Supreme Court decisions against religious devotions in public schools, protecting the freedom of conscience of a captive audience of young and impressionable children.

Markert noted the prayers alienate nonreligious members of the school and mislead children into believing only religious service members have served the United States. She told Superintendent Conway that 23.4 percent of military personnel identify as having no religious preference.

“These prayers further perpetuate the myth that there are no ‘atheists in foxholes’ and that the only veterans worth memorializing are Christians,” Markert said.

The District’s attorney responded in a March 14 email to say that the church-state violation will not recur: “. . . all outside entities who are making presentations in the District . . . will not engage in offending behavior,” he said.

Freedom From Religion Foundation