A school in Texas violated its students’ rights by telling them they could not pray in public, First Liberty Institute said in a letter to the school district sent at the end of October.
In September, eighth-grader Hannah Allen and other students at Honey Grove Middle School in Honey Grove, Texas, began praying together over lunch for a former classmate who had been in an accident. Their principal, Lee Frost, told them not to “do that again” and followed up the next day by telling them they could only pray behind the curtain on the cafeteria stage or in the gym if it was empty. In other words, they could pray as long as other students couldn’t see them.
First Liberty sent the school district a letter pointing out that the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court decisions, and U.S. Department of Education guidelines all protect students’ right to pray at school during free times such as lunch and recess. “We’re hoping this issue can be resolved quickly and easily,” Keisha Russell, associate counsel for First Liberty said in a statement. —Rachel Lynn Aldrich
A Kentucky school district’s new policies unconstitutionally restrict a Christian athletic club, attorneys said. North Hardin High School’s new rules, implemented on the advice of Atheists for America, prohibit political or religious clubs from meeting during school hours, which means the student group Fellowship of Christian Athletes cannot hold its meetings and events between second and third period while other clubs meet. The school also stopped FCA from using announcement systems and bulletin boards to advertise its meetings like other groups.
“Banning religious clubs and students from meeting when other clubs meet is nothing more than discrimination,” Roger Byron, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, said. The rules violate the federal Equal Access Act, which gives religious groups the right to use public facilities, according to the letter First Liberty sent school officials at the end of October. The letter offers to help the district draft new policies in line with the act. —R.L.A.
The Supreme Court last week said it would hear the case of a World War I memorial in Bladensburg, Md., that atheists want taken down. The American Legion et al. v. American Humanist Association et al., will give the high court a chance to clarify the rulings of lower courts, which have struggled to consistently and reasonably apply the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to local war memorials. —Lynde Langdon