Freethought Today · October 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Hoosier favorite state-church protector? FFRF!

FFRF was able to remedy three state-church violations in Indiana in the past several weeks.

Mission completed

A public school soccer team won't be attending coach-organized religious mission trips after FFRF took action.

A local resident informed FFRF that the NorthWood High School girls' soccer team, part of Wa-Nee Community Schools in Nappanee, Ind., had gone on a mission trip to Panama in June. The trip had been organized by the team's head coach, Phil Ummel, along with a mission organization named SCORE International. Ummel had publicly promoted the trip and encouraged the girls to go as a team. On June 28, FFRF sent a letter informing the school district that such religious promotion was a constitutional violation and requesting that the coach refrain from encouraging religious activities or taking students on mission trips in the future.

FFRF received a response on Aug. 15 from the new superintendent at the district, who wrote that immediate action would be taken to correct the legal violation and assured FFRF that the school wouldn't promote or sponsor religious activities going forward.

Prayer expunged

A school in Hope, Ind., will not be scheduling prayer into school-sponsored events after receiving a letter from FFRF.

A parent within the Flatrock Hawcreek School Corporation in Hope reported to FFRF that school events in the district often included scheduled prayers and that staff members were regularly encouraging and participating in student prayer. FFRF wrote to Superintendent Shawn Price on June 2, informing him that these practices are illegal entanglements of state and church. FFRF requested that immediate action be taken by the school district to ensure that district-sponsored events do not include prayer in the future.

FFRF was informed Aug. 31 that the school district had taken steps to comply with the constitutional principles of separation of church and state in the future.

Averse to the verses

A teacher at a high school in Greenwood, Ind., will not be proselytizing students with bible verses after FFRF contacted the school.

A community member informed FFRF that a science teacher at Center Grove High School in Greenwood was regularly displaying bible verses on his classroom projector while students were entering the class. FFRF wrote to Center Grove Community Schools Superintendent Richard Arkanoff on Jan. 27, warning the district that teachers displaying daily bible verses in a classroom violates the constitutional prohibition of schools not advancing or endorsing religion. The teacher's displays created the appearance that the school district promoted the bible's religious message.

FFRF was informed Sept. 3 that the school district had corrected the violation immediately after having received FFRF's legal letter.

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