I’ve been pretty harsh (with good reason) to Ernest Perce V, the Pennsylvania State Director of American Atheists, on this site.
But he’s done something really awesome and it’s worth highlighting.
The Greencastle-Antrim School District (Pennsylvania) school board begins its meetings with The Lord’s Prayer. Totally illegal.
Then, Ernest sent an official letter (PDF) — on behalf of AA — to the board members reiterating his concern and the actions he wanted to see take place:
I am not asking or demanding that the members of the Greencastle-Antrim School Board not pray during non-official times. I am asking and demanding that prayers during official school meetings end, forthwith. This will ensure that you may exercise your religious freedoms without encroaching the Constitution, and protect the citizenry from positional abuse by promoting a religious agenda.
Again, to be clear, the School Board will be in compliance with the current ruling of the Third Circuit Court by dropping any sectarian prayers and/or practices. This will ensure that the government does not take sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience.
American Atheists, Inc., respectfully requests a written notice, including an email response, as soon as possible indicating what steps the School Board will be taking to assure compliance with the Third Circuit Court and the Constitution of the United States of America.
If you listen to Ernest and Carl’s speeches in the video, you see that they’re respectful but direct about the concern. They’re not interrupting the prayer or making a scene at the meeting. They get evidence that the practice is taking place. Then they take action on it.
It’s something any one of us could do.
Now, the ball’s in the district’s court. Let’s see if they do the right thing and drop the prayer from the meeting.