High School chorus will no longer perform at church (August 11, 2014)

Broome High School students in Glendale, SC., will no longer perform in churches, thanks to action by FFRF.

A concerned member of the community informed FFRF that on May 11 the school chorus sang at the First Baptist Church of Cowpens during the church’s morning worship service.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a letter on May 19 to the superintendent of Spartanburg School District 3, explaining why holding school-sponsored activities in churches, especially during services, is a bad idea from the outset.

“In addition to being surrounded by religious iconography, students were exposed to, and likely became participants in, a Christian worship service. This outcome is entirely inappropriate during a school-sponsored activity. Please note that it would not cure this constitutional violation if students were merely given the option to ‘opt out’ of participating in this performance. Courts have summarily rejected arguments that voluntariness excuses a constitutional violation.”

On Aug. 11, an attorney representing the district responded that it agrees that public high school students should not be asked to participate in any activity that takes place during a religious service, where that activity is directly sponsored by the public school which they attend.”

She advised that the district will not require students to perform in connection with any religious services. The district’s counsel added that she had met with all district administrators to give a presentation including “instruction regarding the Establishment Clause and how it applies to public school students and religion.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation