FFRF urges Pulaski Schools to break ties with local religious ministry

 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is imploring a Kentucky district to refrain from extending future invitations to outside religious groups after public schools students were recently subjected to a presentation by a local crisis pregnancy center.

A concerned member of the Pulaski County Schools community reports that Southern and Northern Middle Schools recently invited representatives from AIM Pregnancy Support Center to lecture eighth-grade health classes on “sex, STDs and abortion.” These presentations were reportedly led by AIM’s “medical team supervisor,” who is, despite what her title may suggest, not a licensed medical professional.

Like other crisis pregnancy centers, AIM masquerades as a medical organization while it is actually a Christian ministry that primarily exists to dissuade pregnant women from seeking abortions. AIM describes itself as an “organization created for the purpose of affirming the sanctity of life and is committed to presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ in both word and deed to men and women dealing with pregnancy.” A post on AIM’s official Facebook page reveals that the district allowed, perhaps even encouraged, the group to bring its evangelistic message to its students.

“We were invited to South and Northern Middle Schools today!!! We talked about AIM, sex, STDs and abortion,” the post reads. “I was FREE to talk about how amazing God is! Minds were changed today concerning abortion!!!! Pray with me, that the seeds planted grow, mature and multiply!!! And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

FFRF Legal Fellow Colin McNamara wrote to the district urging it to refrain from allowing AIM Pregnancy Support Center to lecture students in the future, and that future guest lectures from outside groups be vetted to ensure that they do not contain an underlying proselytizing message or agenda.

“Inviting a self-described Christian ministry to hijack public school health classes in furtherance of its evangelistic agenda is not only a grave injury to your students’ education, but a plain violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” McNamara wrote to Superintendent Patrick Richardson.

FFRF also pointed out the troubling history of crisis pregnancy centers commandeering public schools to proselytize to students and the constitutional concerns with such tactics.

“Public schools exist to educate; CPCs like AIM exist to indoctrinate — by AIM’s own admission, they did not come to the district’s middle schools to teach sex education, but so that ‘minds would be changed concerning abortion,’” McNamara added. “The district can play no part in helping a private religious organization gain access to other people’s children to further their evangelism.”

Finally, FFRF addresses the danger that results from denying students comprehensive, science-based sex education in favor of widely discredited religious rhetoric.

"It is wildly irresponsible for these public schools to allow members of a faith-based anti-abortion ministry access to impressionable students," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "This infiltration of church dogma into Kentucky classrooms senselessly endangers the health of students and must stop."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 31,000 members and several chapters across the country, including hundreds of members and a chapter in Kentucky. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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