The American Humanist Association’s Apignini Legal Center has reached a settlement with with the public school system in Fayette, Missouri over a range of clear violations of the Establishment Clause in favoring Christians groups. The group issued a press release on the substance of the consent decree:
The public school district showed unconstitutional favoritism toward Christianity in several ways. The school announced weekly prayer meetings over its intercom system and allowed a Christian student group to meet before the start of classes, unlike other clubs. The suit also alleged that the Christian club’s faculty sponsor prayed with students and displayed personal, religious materials in the classroom.
“Public schools must uphold the separation of church and state,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “To do otherwise is to disregard the rights of all students, including atheist and humanist children who are good without a god.”
“The school was violating the Establishment Clause in numerous ways – by promoting prayer meetings, giving privileges to the Christian club, and inappropriately allowing the teacher to participate in the club’s activities,” said David Niose, legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “With this settlement, all of the problems are adequately addressed.”In the consent decree agreed upon by the parties, the school is permanently enjoined from promoting prayer and religious activity, and religious clubs will be given no special privileges that other clubs do not enjoy. The school district also agreed to amend its announcement policies so that they will not identify any religious activities taking place at student group meetings. Also, faculty sponsors of student groups will not be permitted to participate in religious activities of the groups. School employees will also no longer be allowed to keep religious materials in places in open view.
“We are pleased that the school has chosen to move forward with policies that will respect the constitutional rights of all students,” Niose said.
You can read the full consent decree here.