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Atheist Group Accuses School District of 'Unconstitutional Religious Proselytization' After Preacher Delivers Opening Prayer


"The event was best described by our client as 'one long church service.'"

Photo Credit: AP

An atheist group is accusing a school district of "unconstitutional religious proselytization" after a Christian preacher reportedly delivered an opening prayer at a recent convocation for public school teachers.

Photo credit: Shutterstock  Photo credit: Shutterstock

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, an atheist legal firm, wrote a letter to the Jackson Public School District in Jackson, Mississippi, Monday, on behalf of an unnamed teacher who complained to the group, asking that officials respond with a guarantee that future religious elements won't be included in district-sanctioned events.

The August 12 meeting, said to be required for teachers, purportedly included a prayer that referenced Christian themes and an address that included Bible scripture.

In addition to the preacher, other speakers also allegedly mentioned faith elements during their addresses as well, according to a press release distributed by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

"The Reverend began his sermon by asking the entire faculty to 'shut your eyes please' and pray," the letter reads. "Following that was a series of 'call and responses' where he would ask the teachers, 'please say amen to that,' to which they would respond, 'amen!'"

It continued, "Nearly every speaker at this three-hour event engaged in some form of religious preaching, recitation of Bible verses, and invocation to 'Lord' and 'God.' The event was best described by our client as 'one long church service.'"

Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, called the inclusion of Christian themes "shocking," with the organization claiming that these elements infringed upon the rights of nontheistic teachers.

The letter concludes by claiming that the Jackson Public School district violated the Establishment Clause and could, as a result, be sued. It asks for the district to provide a plan within two weeks that addresses how it will rectify the "constitutional infringement."

TheBlaze is awaiting reply from district officials regarding the elements and themes included in the convocation and how they plan to respond to the allegation waged against them.

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