Ohio elementary school cancels religious field trip

An elementary school in Ohio canceled a field trip for 4th graders to attend a church after receiving a stern letter from Foundation Attorney Patrick Elliott on May 20, 2010. The Foundation had written Garfield Heights City School District’s previous superintendent in 2007, 2008 and 2009 over the same issue with no action taken by the district. The Church of the Nazarene has a definite Christian mission, describing itself as “a Great Commission church. . . . ‘To make Christlike disciples in the nations’ is the new seven-word statement of mission.” The “field trip” to this church had been taking place at least for four consecutive years and, like the previous unconstitutional excursions, the upcoming trip would have included proselytizing and students would be asked to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. Elliott’s letter warned: “Besides the fundamental legal problems with sending public school students on a field trip to receive religious instruction, there are many good policy reasons to oppose the practice. Parents should control the manner in which their children receive religious instruction on religious subjects. It is an egregious abuse of government power to proselytize a captive audience of young school children in this manner.” He also pointed out how troubling the school’s endorsement of Christianity is for students who are not Christian. Upon receipt of the letter, the school’s principal reacted by rescheduling the event to after-school hours.

Freedom From Religion Foundation