American Humanist Association says Rankin County Schools violate - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

American Humanist Association says Rankin County Schools violated court order

WASHINGTON, D. C (WLBT) -

The American Humanist Association has filed a motion of contempt against the Rankin CountySchool District and its administrators for including a prayer ina school ceremony.

The organization says the school-sponsored prayer violates a federal judge's rulingrequiring the school district to comply with the Establishment Clause of theFirst Amendment.

The motion says the school district hosted an awards ceremony for students thatincluded a formal prayer delivered by a Christian pastor. The prayer wasChristian in nature and made a specific reference to the resurrection of JesusChrist.

Students were asked to stand and then bow their heads for the prayer.Students were also told to wear "church attire" to the event, which was helddays before Easter Sunday.

The American Humanist Association contends that thepublic school district's actions unconstitutionally endorsed religion andcoerced students into participating in a religious observance.

"Public schools are not in the business of prayer. Specifically making timefor prayer in assemblies and award ceremonies threatens our nation'sconstitutional principles and disregards the rights of our children," said RoySpeckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

In April 2013, the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit on behalfof local high school students against the Rankin County School District forsponsoring mandatory student events that contained religious proselytizing. InNovember, a federal court ruled that the school's actions violated theEstablishment Clause of the First Amendment.

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