FFRF reminds middle school that proselytizing is unacceptable (May 22, 2014)

Howe Independent School District in Howe, Texas, took action to assure that the Dallas Baptist Rec Team would not proselytize during an annual Field Day event that was for all 5th through 8th grade students at the school. A concerned parent contacted FFRF that the Field Day was being organized through Dallas Baptist University, whose stated mission is “to provide Christ-centered quality higher education.”

FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a letter to the school superintendent, informing the district that allowing a group such as DBU Rec Teams access to impressionable students is a constitutional violation:

“While DBU, as a private university, is free to train its students to proselytize to adolescents through recreational sports, Howe ISD, as a public school district, is prohibited by the Establishment Clause of the Constitution from allowing DBU Rec Teams to proselytize to its students during the school day.”

Grover explained that allowing an evangelical Christian organization access to students gives the appearance that the district endorses the organization’s religious message.

On May 15, Howe Middle School’s Principal replied to FFRF: “It has been communicated to the Dallas Baptist Recreation Team leader and will be communicated with the team Friday morning that they are at the Howe Middle School Field Day to lead the recreation games for our students and not to proselytize to our students or promote Christianity during the Field Day activities.”

FFRF’s complainant later thanked FFRF and reported that “the field day went without any issues.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation