FFRF prevents religious sermons from continuing in Ala. schools (April 9, 2013)

After contact from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an Alabama school district cancelled assemblies by a local preacher who had turned a talk against drinking and driving into an evangelizing sermon.

A student at Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Ala. contacted FFRF, saying speaker Siran Stacy had manipulated and shamed students to make decisions that are beyond the scope of what a public school should be teaching.

At the April 5 school assembly Stacy had preached that students should not have sex before marriage, and denigrated the use of condoms and a woman’s right to have an abortion. He reportedly told young women their self-worth comes from god and told the captive audience of students that only men are capable of being leaders.

Stacy reportedly recounted the tragic death of his family, who allegedly were killed by a gay drunk driver with AIDS. Stacy reportedly used the tragic event to portray gay people as evil and enforce the stereotype that only homosexuals have AIDS.

He also quoted the bible throughout his sermon.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent an April 8 letter to Dr. Alan Miller, Haleyville City Schools president, requesting that he cancel Stacy’s upcoming speaking engagements at Haleyville Middle School.

“What possible connection do homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex and converting to Christianity have to do with drunk driving?” Seidel asked. “None. This was not a secular program but a religious sermon.”

Miller responded in an April 9 email to inform FFRF that Stacy’s speaking engagements at the local middle school had been cancelled.

On April 17, the Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller informed FFRF that the school’s principal apologized to the student who was concerned and offended by Stacy’s presentation. Fuller also issued an apology to all students for the claims Stacy made and his First Amendment violations.

In a letter to Stacy, Fuller stated students were offended by how he injected his faith into his presentation and disparaged homosexuality. He reminded Stacy about the necessity to respect different viewpoints and the Constitution while presenting at public schools.

Freedom From Religion Foundation