Reprimand religion-imposing teacher, FFRF urges Ala. school officials  


An Alabama school district must do a better job of ensuring that preachers are not allowed to take advantage of its students, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is insisting.

A concerned parent has informed the state/church watchdog that on Oct. 10, a teacher at Tallassee High School took students, including their child, into the gym for a religious sermon delivered by a guest speaker who preached to students and attempted to convert them to Christianity: 

We all owe God big time. What’s the good news? Jesus came to take it on. That’s the good news. Now, how do you respond to that good news? How do you respond to that good news? Here’s the kicker right here. How do you respond to that good news? The bible says you respond with your life. The bible says you

surrender your life. You throw yourself at the mercy of Jesus Christ with your life. That’s how you respond. No other response is doable. No other response will cut it, right? Christ paid for my sins. I was on my way to hell. I owe Him my life. Hands down. 

He ended his sermon by leading students in prayer: 

So Father God, thank you for this opportunity to encourage my friends here in Tallassee. God, I pray that the message will sink in, even the rest of this day. And Lord, we just love You, in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Tallassee City Schools must take immediate action to ensure that teachers are not pushing their religion onto students or allowing preachers into school, FFRF is urging. The teacher involved  should be reprimanded for his conduct. Any other staff members who allowed this egregious violation of students’ rights to take place should also be rebuked.

“It is unconstitutional to take away instructional time from students to expose them to a Christian proselytizing preacher,” FFRF Attorney Chris Line writes to Tallassee City Schools Superintendent Brock Nolin. “It is well settled that public schools may not show favoritism towards or coerce belief or participation in religion.”

In Lee v. Weisman (1992), FFRF adds, the Supreme Court extended the prohibition of school-sponsored religious activities beyond the classroom to all school functions, holding prayers at public high school graduations an impermissible establishment of religion. Thus, forcing students to listen to a Christian message as part of a school assembly is in violation of the Establishment Clause. In fact, FFRF recently filed suit against a school district in West Virginia after it allowed a preacher to sermonize to students during the school day. 

Tallassee City Schools must refrain from sponsoring inappropriate and unconstitutional assemblies in the future, and should reprimand all staff members involved in coercing students into attending this school-sponsored sermon, FFRF ends the letter by asking.

You can read the entire letter here.

“This sort of an activity at a public school is constitutionally impermissible — and for good reason,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It cannot and must not be allowed.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 38,000 members across the country, including hundreds of members in Alabama. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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