FFRF helps end Ala. church’s religious school assemblies (March 11, 2013)

A Baptist church will no longer use school assemblies on the “History of Easter” and the “History of Christmas” to proselytize students in an Alabama school district, thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

A concerned parent of two young children in the Houston County Schools system contacted FFRF after the Columbia Baptist Association came to her children’s school to spread their religion.

The school routinely held proselytizing assemblies, and during Christmastime a teacher gave the students handouts that contained bible verses, instructed students about “the true meaning of Christmas,” and referenced a local church. After talking with teachers about her concerns, the parent received a note and conflicting information from the teacher about a “History of Easter” assembly.

The concerned parent then contacted the system superintendent, Tom Pitchford, in a March 4 letter requesting religious activities not take place in the schools.

After receiving a request for help, FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel also sent Pitchford a letter on March 6 urging that religious events and assemblies be cancelled. “The [church’s] attempt to insinuate themselves into public schools by camouflaging their purposes as ‘history’ does not make the assemblies legal,” Seidel said. “That a baby was born of a virgin and a person rose from the dead after three days are matters of faith, not history.”

Seidel also said allowing students to opt out is not an option, because it excludes students and leads to bullying.

In a March 7 conversation, Superintendent Pitchford told the concerned parent the “History of Easter” assembly was cancelled, along with all future religious assemblies.

Freedom From Religion Foundation