An Illinois school district has pledged to better monitor its social media feed after a Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint.
FFRF contacted Wayne City Community Unit School District #100 in October to object to a posting on Wayne City High School's Facebook account about a "Bring Your Bible to School" day. The announcement gave a location (the school library), time and day to meet and "pray over the day." It added, "Everybody is welcome to join in on this activity."
FFRF pointed out that such an announcement violated the constitutional separation of church and state.
"Public school may not advance, prefer or promote religion," FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne wrote to Superintendent Jeff Mitchell. "This Facebook posting violates this basic constitutional prohibition by creating the appearance that the school, and by extension the district, prefer religion to nonreligion and Christianity to all other religions."
Schools are prohibited from publicizing religious content, FFRF reminded the school.
"Courts have continually held that school districts may not display religious messages or iconography in public schools," Jayne added. "These restrictions clearly extend to the official Wayne City High School Facebook page, which any reasonable viewer would perceive as representing the views of the school."
Plus, FFRF emphasized, such a religious promotion alienates the vast number of non-Christian students, families, teachers and members of the public, including the 35 percent of young Americans who are not Christian.
The Wayne City school district has promised to prevent any future misuse of its social media.
"One of our high school students had apparently posted this announcement," Mitchell recently replied. "Rest assured that the posting was taken down very shortly after it was posted and the student as well as all others involved have been notified that they cannot promote this sort of program on any District sites."
FFRF is pleased by the district's response.
"We appreciate that the school district is promising to be more vigilant," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "Hopefully, this will mean a clearer adherence to the Constitution from now on."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a state/church separation watchdog organization with more than 25,000 members and chapters all over the country, including 800-plus members and a Chicago chapter in the state of Illinois.