FFRF springs Oklahoma students from moralistic sermons

An Oklahoma school district has assured the Freedom From Religion Foundation that its students will not be attending a moralistic sermon.

The “Spring Tea” is a highly religious annual event in Muskogee. This March, hundreds of middle school girls were preached at on such issues as abstinence, teen pregnancy, sexting and sexually transmitted diseases. Among those attending were students from two public magnet schools in the Muskogee school district. 

Last year, FFRF had sent a notice to the district asking them not to have any involvement with the occasion or face legal action. Officials had assured FFRF that the district would abstain, but the organization recently learned that this wasn’t the case.

“A complainant has brought to our attention that at least one school from the Muskogee Public Schools participated again in the event this year,” FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote to Bryan Drummond, legal counsel for the Muskogee Public Schools. “This appeared to be in direct conflict with what we were told would occur.”

The school district responded that this was all due to a misunderstanding. Drummond explained that the main middle school had explicitly been instructed not to take part, but that the school district had neglected to notify the two public magnet schools. This oversight has now been rectified.

“An e-mail is being sent to all administrators, regardless of the grades they supervise, that the district will not send any students to ‘Spring Tea,'” Drummond replied to Seidel. “In addition, Jim Wilson, assistant superintendent, will send a letter to the organizers of the ‘Spring Tea’ that no students from the Muskogee Public Schools will attend the ‘Spring Tea’ in the future, and that no request to attend should be given to any employee or student of the Muskogee Public Schools during school or duty time or as representatives of the district.”

FFRF welcomes the school district’s assurance on the matter.

“Religious sermonizers can’t be given access to public school students,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We’re glad that the school district is dealing with this matter firmly.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 23,700 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 100 in Oklahoma.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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