FFRF hails Huntington High (W.Va.) proposed student walkout over religious assembly


The Freedom From Religion Foundation is applauding West Virginia students for a planned Wednesday walkout to protest a recent religious assembly with coerced student participation.
The national state/church watchdog, which has been contacted by multiple parents of affected high school students, sent a complaint letter and open records request late last week over the full-on religious service led by Nik Walker during school hours earlier in the week that many students were encouraged by teachers to attend. FFRF has reviewed videos from the assembly, which show that many staff members, teachers and even the school’s principal took part in this school-sponsored religious revival.

It all started on Feb. 2 when Huntington High School invited a preacher named Nik Walker to preach to and proselytize students at the school. Walker talked about salvation through Jesus and that students who did not follow the bible would go to hell. He led students in prayer, and students were encouraged to attend a revival of his being held at a local church. A similar event was held at Huntington East Middle School, as well. A post Walker has made on his social media pages actually brags about converting district students: 

What a morning! We just got back from Boyd County High School and Huntington High School where right at 50 students gave their lives to Jesus at their voluntary club meetings!
Huntington High School students are fittingly walking out on Wednesday, Feb. 9, in protest against this unvarnished religious affair. Max Nibert, a senior at Huntington High who is organizing the walkout, has written a spirited letter to the school administration that contains this gem of a line: “If a revivalist Christian sermon can be held for students, we claim the absolute ability to protest the violation of our rights that accompanied this sermon.” 
Nibert is completely on the right track. 

Nik Walker is the head of Nik Walker Ministries, a traveling evangelistic ministry based in Cleveland, TN. The purpose of Nik Walker Ministries is “to bring the fullness of God’s Spirit back to the 21st-century church, expose young people to the saving power of Jesus Christ, to show people what God sees when He looks upon them. The heart of our ministry is bringing revival and fervor back to the body of Christ.”  
“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the district to offer religious leaders unique access to preach and proselytize students during school hours on school property,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to Cabell County Schools’ legal counsel. “No outside adults should be provided carte blanche access to minors — a captive audience — in a public school.”, in addition to requesting contracts and correspondence between the ministry and the school, has asked the school district to investigate the incident, and ensure that Walker and other religious leaders are not permitted to proselytize students on school property during the school day.
When a school allows church representatives to recruit students for the church, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message — in this case, a Christian message, FFRF emphasized. This practice alienates those non-Christian students, teachers, and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being disseminated by the school, including the 38 percent of millennials who are nonreligious.
FFRF has received many complaints from students and parents in Cabell County Schools over the past five years. In 2017, the district held two religious assemblies for students under remarkably similar circumstances to this religious revival. One teacher even required his class to attend. The superintendent at the time noted that the district would take steps to ensure this would not recur, but FFRF has continued to learn of violations in the district. Just last year, FFRF wrote to the district after a middle school teacher went on a three-minute rant where she taught from the bible, expressed disgust that some students don’t believe in God, and denigrated non-Christians by implying they are not, and cannot, be brought up with “morals and values.” 
Nibert and his like-minded schoolmates are putting themselves on the line in defense of minority rights and our Constitution – and they have FFRF’s full support.

“It is thrilling to see so many students standing up for their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “There’s an ironic role reversal here since students are the ones teaching the correct lessons to the school authorities.” 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members across the country, including in West Virginia. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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