(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
OAN’s Abril Elfi
6:14 PM – Tuesday, August 8, 2023
A Texas school district recently canceled a three-week prayer event after an atheist group based in Wisconsin sent a complaint letter.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) released a letter to Burnet Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Keith McBurnett, listing their grievances regarding the event.
“The purposes of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., as stated in its bylaws, are to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism. Incorporated in 1978 in Wisconsin, FFRF is the nation’s largest freethought association with more than 39,000 freethinkers: atheists, agnostics and skeptics of any pedigree. FFRF is a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3). All dues and contributions are deductible for income tax purposes,” the organization’s website read.
The letter and signers prompted the campaign to come to an early close.
The district had organized a prayer event that was announced on Facebook, consisting of a three-week prayer session commencing on July 26th in the summer. The event was scheduled to conclude on August 16th, the first day of school.
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence stated her opinions in the opposing letter.
“By promoting prayer, the district sends an official message that excludes all nonreligious district students and community members,” Lawrence said.
The FFRF claims that it is a well-established fact that public schools may not encourage one religion over another or compel students to practice it.
They continued to argue that by promoting and encouraging prayer, the district was now showing blatant partiality towards religion over secularism. It was stated that the move excludes over 30 percent of those who were not faith-based.
In an email response from the district’s superintendent, he confirmed that the Facebook post with the details of the event had been deleted.
“We’re glad that school officials are taking action to uphold constitutional neutrality,” Lawrence continued. “A school district does not need to pray for their students and staff. It needs to focus instead on providing a secular education free from religious indoctrination.”
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