A legal complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation has halted an unconstitutional sectarian Christian class at an elementary school in Leipsic Local School District in Leipsic, Ohio.
Leipsic Elementary School had reportedly been holding a weekly sectarian Christian class since at least 2018, in which Christian beliefs were taught and promoted. Although it was titled a “Christian History Class,” it was similar to bible study. These classes were held on school grounds during school hours, as well as publicized on the school’s official Facebook page. FFRF was notified about these classes by a concerned parent, who reportedly had to personally request their child not be included, which led to bullying, isolation and even physical assault of the child.
Public schools may not provide religious instruction, FFRF emphasized. A seminal Supreme Court case in 1948 specifically held that religious instruction classes in public schools are unconstitutional. More than 70 years of Supreme Court precedent protects the secular character of public education, as well as the rights of conscience of a captive audience of young students.
“It does not matter that Leipsic Elementary School allows parents to opt their children out of the religious class,” FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to Superintendent Greg Williamson. “Voluntariness does not excuse the constitutional violation.”
Williamson recently reported back to FFRF that “The Leipsic Local School District will no longer offer the Christian History Class on campus during the
“A public elementary school is no place for bible study or any other religious evangelism,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Schools exist to educate, not indoctrinate. We’re glad the district is now ensuring a captive audience of small children will no longer be proselytized.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 1,000 members and three chapters in Ohio. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.