An Alabama public high school announced it's holding a "Back to School Worship Service" this weekend in its gym — and national atheist activist group the Freedom From Religion Foundation didn't take kindly to the news.
The post about Sunday evening's event was on Fyffe High School's Facebook page Thursday morning:
Image source: Facebook
"Please join us in praying for God's protective hand to be over our schools, facilities, and students," the post reads.
The FFRF said in a complaint letter that it learned about the worship service from "a concerned DeKalb County Schools parent" who added that the event is being "organized and promoted by school faculty members."
"Organizing and promoting religious worship events unconstitutionally entangles of the school personnel with an exclusively religious — often exclusively Christian — message," FFRF attorney Christopher Line added to DeKalb Superintendent Jason Barnett.
The FFRF letter demanded that the district investigate the situation and "make certain that its teachers and administrators are not unlawfully and inappropriately indoctrinating students in religious matters" and tell the FFRF what steps it's taking to "protect the right of conscience of its minority religious and nonreligious students and families."
AL.com reported that it requested a response from the school.
"This religious promotion is not only problematic from a constitutional perspective, but is also a harmful assault on the students' right of conscience," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor told the outlet. "DeKalb County Schools must direct its focus, time and resources toward educating its students, not proselytizing to them."
How are folks reacting to the worship service announcement?
While one commenter asked, "[Which] god are you praying to? Asking for a friend," the rest of the comments on the school's Facebook page regarding the worship service were decidedly positive:
- "I love this. I wish every school would do it."
- "We have done this for a few years now, it is a good way to start the new year off."
- "This is awesome!"
- "That's good to hear!!!"
- "We wont be bullied by frivolous lawsuits. School did nothing wrong."
- "Stand your ground this is great! God Bless your school and students!"
Turns out Alabama public schools and the FFRF aren't exactly strangers:
- In June, the FFRF got word of a student baptism service on Alabama public school property and demanded the school district investigate and not let it happen again.
- The atheist group demanded that an Alabama high school marching band cease it's "religious" halftime performances at football games in 2017. The school said it would consider removing some props but that the show would remain the same.
- The FFRF demanded that a different Alabama high school stop loudspeaker prayers at football games in 2017. But after the school complied, students ended up praying out loud in the stands.