FFRF calls out Ala. state senator’s pro-indoctrination remarks

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is responding to Alabama state Senator Greg Reed’s recent comments in support of school-sponsored religious indoctrination.

After FFRF wrote to the Etowah County Schools demanding that religious organizations no longer be allowed to proselytize students, Reed issued a statement defending the use of public schools to push Christianity onto students. The program in question involves a “barter arrangement” whereby churches were solicited to supply wrestlers in the middle and high school with water and granola bars. In exchange, the churches were invited to share a 15-minute “devotional” with students.

Reed protested:

This week we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him goes all the praise and all the glory. That should be our focus, and it should not be interrupted by out-of-state groups trying to push faith out of our lives and the lives of our children…We need more children, not less, to hear the good news of God’s saving grace.

“Senator Reed, your remarks are alarming and a breach of your oath to support the U.S. Constitution, which protects students from religious indoctrination by their public schools,” writes FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line.

Public school students are a vulnerable and captive audience when participating in school-sponsored activities, FFRF noted. Parents, not public schools, have the right to determine their children’s religious or nonreligious upbringing. Additionally, offering access to students for proselytization by outside churches as part of a school program violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

FFRF takes constitutional violations very seriously, and is willing to vigorously defend students’ rights of conscience. FFRF recently settled a lawsuit against a school district in West Virginia after it similarly allowed a preacher to recruit students during the school day.

FFRF terms Reed’s use of his public office to not only promote his personal religious beliefs but also to champion a flagrant constitutional violation an abuse of public trust. As state senator, it is his duty to support the U.S. Constitution, including its Establishment Clause separating religion from government, and to protect the rights of conscience of all Alabamians regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs. In the face of an active campaign by Christian nationalists to declare the United States a Christian nation, and undo many First Amendment protections as well as other civil liberties, his statements are profoundly unAmerican.

“Our public schools exist to educate, not to indoctrinate in religion,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Senator Reed should take a minute to read our godless Constitution and refresh himself on constitutional principles mandating that the government and its schools stay out of the religion business.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country, including hundreds of members in Alabama. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

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Freedom From Religion Foundation

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