FFRF questions adult-run Indiana student club

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is questioning adult involvement in an Indiana public school religious club.

The Foundation of Christian Students chapter at Riverside Intermediate School in Fishers, Ind., has extensive adult participation, FFRF has been informed. The meetings are led by grown-ups, including four teachers. The sessions include adult-created religious lessons and prayer.

“Public schools may not advance or promote religion,” FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne writes to Allen Bourff, superintendent of Hamilton Southeastern Public Schools. “Even when student religious clubs are permissible, it is inappropriate and unconstitutional for district staff to lead or organize a student religious club. Teachers may be present to make sure that students are not violating school rules, but may not participate.” 

These are young intermediate school students, ranging from 11 to 13 years old. “Teachers should not be allowed to take advantage of this fact by directing a supposedly student-run club,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

FFRF is asking that the matter be investigated. If the Foundation of Christian Students chapter on campus hasn’t in fact been student-initiated, it would be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and should be dissolved. The students may reconstitute the club without adult direction. Any teacher who has previously participated in the club should not be allowed to do so again.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nontheist organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 23,700 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 300 in Indiana. FFRF is currently in federal court suing, along with the ACLU, over a religious performance in Elkhart, Ind., public schools.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend