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Illinois district ends religious activity (July 14, 2022)

FFRF has persuaded an Illinois school district to stop allowing proselytization events on campus during the school day.

A concerned community resident reported to FFRF that Ray McElroy, a former NFL player who is now a pastor, was speaking to students at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Ill. The posters and announcements for the lunch event enticed students to come to hear an ex-NFL player’s story and receive free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches. Students who attended said that they were told they could not take a sandwich until they listened to the speaker and took his book. The book is titled How to Find God. Reportedly, the talk was essentially a sermon by McElroy.

The religious event was reportedly organized by Doug Groters, a Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps instructor at the high school. NJROTC instructors are “employees of the school.”

FFRF Legal Fellow Karen Heineman wrote to Community High School District 218 Superintendent Ty Harting. “The district cannot allow its schools to be used as recruiting grounds for religious missions,” Heineman wrote.

A response from the school assured FFRF that the issue was taken care of.

“We have investigated the matter and have addressed with our staff,” Assistant Superintendent Greg Walder responded. “We will refrain from allowing such events to occur in the future.”