An Alabama school superintendent defended a local high school that hosted a worship rally on Sunday after a complaint was filed by one of the nation’s leading secularist legal groups.
DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett told Fox News on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe the law was broken by Fyffe High School’s hosting of a “back-to-school” worship rally in the school’s gymnasium.
The rally, which has become an annual tradition over the last few years, was reportedly attended by hundreds after news broke of a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The Wisconsin-based FFRF, which pressures school districts and government agencies to end any perceived entanglement with religion, sent a letter on July 26 to Barnett arguing that the school’s promotion of the worship event was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Considering the Establishment Clause prohibits state endorsement of religion, a concerned DeKalb County parent voiced concern to FFRF and claimed that the event was being organized by school officials.
In its letter, FFRF shared a screenshot of a since-deleted Facebook post from the school’s account that seemed to promote the event.
Taking place just after mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, the school’s Facebook post asked community members to join in praying for “God’s protective hand to be over our schools, facilities, and students.”
FFRF legal fellow Christopher Line argued in the letter, “Organizing and promoting religious worship events unconstitutionally entangles school personnel with an exclusively religious — often exclusively Christian — message. Public school teachers and administrators may not lead, direct or ask students to engage in prayer or otherwise endorse religion.”
Among a number of cases, Line’s letter cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the 1962 case of Engel v. Vitale, which ruled that the state cannot hold an official prayer in public school even if participation is not required by students.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith