The Appignani Humanist Legal Center is filing suit against a Mississippi high school that forced all students to attend a lecture on “finding hope in Jesus.”
(Washington, DC, April 25, 2013) —The American Humanist Association’s legal center filed a lawsuit at 2:30 p.m. ET yesterday against Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi, challenging the school’s recent mandatory student assemblies that presented a Christian message as a violation of the separation of church and state.
The Appignani Humanist Legal Center learned from Northwest Rankin High School students that a mandatory assembly was held during school hours on April 9 where a representative of the Pinelake Baptist Church spoke of finding “hope” in “Jesus Christ.”
According to students present, those who attempted to leave were prevented from doing so. At the end of the presentation, the speakers led the students in a Christian prayer.
Attorneys for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the school condemning the assembly as unconstitutional but did not receive a reply.
While in a statement the school contends the assembly was “student-led and organized,” William Burgess, legal coordinator of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said, “It is clear that these assemblies are put on by the school itself. They were staged in a school room, during the school day and the school sent an email to teachers telling them that students were required to attend.”
“As the Supreme Court has made clear, when a school sponsors an event, the religious speech of speakers, including students or other private parties, is attributable to the school and therefore subject to the Establishment Clause,” Burgess continued.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the American Humanist Association in federal court in Jackson, Mississippi. The complaint filed in the case can be read here.
One to watch.
Cathy Newman says
Huh. This should be an interesting one to watch. I’m forever a Southern girl, but sometimes (often…usually…mostly) my home region is so embarrassing. Thank God for Mississippi, says Alabama.
Don’t worry Cathy, we all have a soft spot for the region and people we were brought up with. Until recently I have always been embarrassed by my Irish ancestry but my Irish Catholic background is much more than the “Catholic” part of it and most of my friends or relatives who are caught up in it are as much victims as anyone else. Why shouldn’t you feel yourself to be a Southern Girl? Surely most of those you were brought up with were basically good loving people and you surely have good memories of your childhood and there are surely many things you can be proud of. But in the end all we can do is to be honest. This may hurt those we love or may make us seem disloyal to our roots but the alternative is to let things carry on as they are. This is no solution and, in the end, is harmful to those we most love.
I saw this on RawStory and someone was nice enough to put Mississippi’s legal definition of kidnapping. Since there were guards on the doors to keep people from leaving, this qualifies as unlawful detention – a crime. Of course anyone trying to prosecute this is going to be demonized as persecuting christians. That’s assuming any DA would dare to file charges in that part of the country and a jury would follow the law.
@ Cathy #1 When I was a girl in Atlanta, we used to say that the only good thing about Alabama that it kept us from being next to MIssissippi…
My mom (an attorney) used to call the school board any time she got wind of something like this going on in our schools. Which meant I only had to attend one Campus Crusade for Christ assembly.
Tsu Dho Nimh says
This was “student led and organized” ???
Certainly, it was. Because everyone knows that students are allowed to organize an assembly and order all the seniors to report to it with no warning. During the school day. Disrupting classes for those seniors.
The counter to the forced Christian prayer is to sing the lovely Hare Krishna chant from the musical HAIR …
Ophelia Benson says
“Thank God for Mississippi, says Alabama.”
Poor Mississippi. It has no MIssissippi.
Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia are all just peas from the same pod.
This is why I think we have way too many states.
We could just have one large state from Georgia to Louisiana — call it either Goobertania, or NASCARalia.
Could save a lot of money in legislator salaries.
Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa could also be combined into one state — Cornsas.
Hell, New England should be — well — New England. What’s the point of having separate states for Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, for crying out loud! You can throw a cat from one state to the other. Add Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire and you’ve lost nothing except 5 governors.
Gretchen Robinson says
to go along with mandatory heterosexuality and mandatory extreme conservativism.
Remember: it’s the (unwritten) law.
The Independent Republic of Vermont wants nothing to do with the rest of these, especially not New Hampshire.
Mississippi has Louisiana – it’s getting pretty damn close here with the present governor.