FFRF strongly objects to religious book-reading at S.C. elementary school

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is strongly objecting to a reading of an overtly religious book to the entire student body at a South Carolina elementary public school.

A concerned parent of a student at Grassy Pond Elementary School in Gaffney, S.C., contacted FFRF to inform it of a recent reading at the school of the book “Jesus, Please Heal My Dog” by Dipali Patel Britton. The parent reported receiving a notice from the school that students would be read the book by the author and that the book would specially be made available for purchase. The school announcement stated: “This story teaches bible verses, the importance of obedience, thankfulness, and the power of prayers.” The tale, which is claimed to be “based on a true story,” involves a dog being healed when “family and friends come together and pray without ceasing.”

FFRF stressed to the school district that this type of instruction in a public elementary school is blatantly unconstitutional and must be stopped immediately.

“It is well settled that public schools may not advance or promote religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote to Cherokee County School District Superintendent Quincie Moore. “Public schools may not promote prayer, bible verses, and religious stories as part of instruction during the school day.”

FFRF emphasized that it is especially inappropriate for an elementary school to promote Christian instruction, given the young age of students involved. There is no doubt that many parents of students have different religious and nonreligious beliefs. This story alienates those non-Christian and nonreligious students, families, teachers, and members of the public whose beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.

And even were the presentation voluntary, FFRF added, this would not exempt the school from abiding by constitutional requirements.

“How could any school official permit this egregious misuse of authority to proselytize a captive audience of young, impressionable students?” asks FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

FFRF is requesting that Grassy Pond Elementary School staff refrain from organizing and hosting events of this sort in the future.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 26,000 members across the county, including in South Carolina. Our purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church.


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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