FFRF challenges church school trip

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is strongly objecting to an Arkansas school district’s church trip tomorrow to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.

The Jessieville Public School District is organizing an excursion of students from the local high school to the Village Church of Christ. The outing will be in the morning during the school day.

FFRF contends that the planned visit is unconstitutional and exclusionary and the fact that it is “voluntary” is no excuse.

“It is well settled that public schools may not advance or promote religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott writes to Ralph Carter, superintendent of the Jessieville Public School District. “Bringing public school students on a field trip to a religious venue for a religious event demonstrates a blatant promotion of religion.” 

Non-Christian and nonreligious students are made to feel like outsiders when a school district coordinates a trip for prayer to a church, FFRF asserts. And the fact that participation and attendance is optional is no pretext, as courts have repeatedly ruled.

FFRF points out that such blatantly religious activities would not be permitted to take place inside public schools during the school day. A school district-organized visit to a church is no more permissible.

FFRF is chastising the Jessieville Public School District for planning such an outing and is asking for the visit to be cancelled.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organization dedicated to the separation of state and church with 23,700 members nationally, including 130 in Arkansas.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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