Mormon video no longer allowed in public school anti-bullying assemblies (July 7, 2014)

Kuna School District in Kuna, Ida., addressed the constitutional concerns of FFRF about a religious video at an assembly.

A complainant informed FFRF that Kuna Middle School held an anti-bullying assembly in May. A video, “Bullying — Stop It,” produced by the media channel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was shown to students. This video explicitly refers to both Jesus Christ and a Heavenly Father. Regarding stopping bullying, the video claims, “this mighty change of heart is exactly what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring about.” It also claims that, “allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us, because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive; remember in the end it is the merciful who obtain mercy.” This video was shown in its entirety and was paused at the end to display the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints logo.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter on June 4, stating that despite the important anti-bullying message, the overtly religious nature and promotion of a specific religion videos is clearly inappropriate.

“[Y]our community possesses many secular experts in this field, including counselors, psychologists, and sociologists, who have experience, training, certification and/or degrees and would be delighted, usually at no cost to the district, to discuss bullying before your student bodies, and whose presence would not raise constitutional red flags.”

On July 7, Superintendent Wendy Johnson replied: “The student who presented the assembly and video did disclose to building administration that there was religious content at the end of the anti-bullying video. The building administration requested that the video be stopped before the religious content was shown. Unfortunately the video was not stopped in the appropriate time.”

Johnson added that the District will perform proper diligence in reviewing all videos and documentation presented to students: “To prevent this type of occurrence from happening in Kuna School District schools in the future we have requested that all building administrators utilize Kuna School District approved materials.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation