The American Humanist Association has written a letter demanding an explanation for why an elementary school in Alma, Michigan (a short drive from where I live) has fliers for a local church at the entrance for the school. You can read the full letter here.
A concerned citizen has contacted our office to request assistance with regard to what is correctly perceived as a constitutional violation that is occurring under the authority of your school and school district. Apparently religious flyers promoting one church in your community – Trinity Church – are being prominently displayed inside the main entrance of your school. Via these written materials, this church (which happens to be the congregation of several members of the faculty of the school) is being promoted to the students and all others who enter the school. The colorful flyers (photos of which can be seen at the end of this letter), specifically target children, with cartoon figures, a message that “Kids Matter to God,” and promotion of events for kids. These materials have reportedly been present at this location for several weeks, since the start of the school year, if not longer, and no other churches or organizations of any kind enjoy this marketing privilege. This activity is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution…By allowing a church to indefinitely use public school property, an elementary school property no less, to promote its worship services, the government sends the “unequivocal message that” the public school district, “as an institution, endorses the religious expressions embodied” in the Christian church…
The unconstitutional endorsement is even more troubling here because the church flyers are being distributed at an elementary school. Elementary students are vastly more impressionable than high school students and are more likely to perceive the school’s actions as an endorsement of religion.
I’ll be watching with great curiosity to see what happens here. The school could hardly be more obviously in violation of the law.