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AHA Wants an End to Religious Field Trips

AHA Wants an End to Religious Field Trips June 24, 2016

The American Humanist Association has filed a motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit against a Missouri school district that regularly takes students on field trips to a Christian ministry and sports complex where they deliver Christian messages.

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The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed for summary judgment in its lawsuit challenging the Joplin Public School District in Joplin, Mo., for sending students on a field trip to a Christian sports complex.

In May 2015, the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of a local non-Christian woman and her children, who attend schools in the district. The school district regularly sends students on field trips to Victory Ministry and Sports Complex, a Christian ministry that prominently features religious messages and images throughout its facility. Some of these field trips required parents to sign waivers demanding that they allow Victory Ministry staff to proselytize to their children. The district proceeded with these field trips despite warnings from the American Humanist Association.

“It’s not the place of public schools to push Christian agendas during field trips,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “By coercing students to participate in religious activity, the school district improperly intrudes on parents’ right to determine their children’s religious upbringing.”

“The school district endorses Christianity through these field trips and has caused our clients serious harm by making them feel marginalized in their own community,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “We request the court to enjoin the school district from using Victory Ministry or other religious venues for future field trips.”

Parents had to give permission for their children to go, but that is exactly the problem. Children who did not go on the field trip did nothing that day at school because almost everyone had gone. Parents and children are thus forced to choose between being preached to or giving up a day of instructional time. I hope the court grants this motion and forces the school to stop such nonsense.

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