Public school caught promoting church services to children

Yesterday, September 24, 2014, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on behalf of a concerned citizen to school officials at the Alma Public School District in Alma, Michigan, regarding Luce Road Elementary’s practice of displaying a particular church’s religious flyers to promote that church’s worship services to young children.

According to the letter, since at least the beginning of the school year, religious flyers publicizing the local Trinity Church have been prominently displayed at the school’s main entrance, promoting the church to students and others who enter the school. The flyers’ appearance makes them particularly appealing to children, as they utilize bright colors, cartoons, the phrase “Kids Matter to God” and information about events for children specifically. The school has not displayed promotional materials for other churches or organizations, and several members of the school faculty attend Trinity Church.

“The school’s pervasive display of religious materials promoting a Christian church sends the message to impressionable school children that the school favors Christianity over all other religions,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Worse, students may feel pressured to gain favor with faculty by attending the church.”

“Public elementary schools are in the business of educating, not proselytizing,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Promoting a Christian church discriminates against religious minorities as well as non-religious children.”

The letter informs the school district that if it has an open policy concerning the display of religious materials, then it should include a greater diversity of literature, including information about atheism and humanism. However, the letter strongly recommends that a better course of action would be to promptly remove all religious flyers and similar materials from the school.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.