Religion

ACLU: Ohio Public School Promotes 'Christian Values,' Has Ministers Pray At Assemblies

| by Kendal Mitchell
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A humanist organization sent a letter to a school district in Ohio on Monday, alleging some of the practices and language in their student handbook violates the First Amendment.

In its written request, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked the Edon Northwest Local School district to stops its, "sectarian policies and practices that violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."

ACLU advocates said they wrote the letter in response to certain passages in school system’s student handbook referencing "Christian values."

The handbook states, "As we strive to achieve our Vision and accomplish our Mission, we value…" with "Honesty and Christian values" as the second entry.

The group also alleges the school district encourages local ministers to lead prayer during mandatory school assemblies. Students must have parent approval in order to not attend the events, according to the ACLU letter.

“These reports also allege that the ministers pray aloud, ask the students to join in the prayer and recite homilies concerning upcoming holidays,” the letter reads.

Interim superintendent John Granger, who joined the school district in January, said while he has not seen any instances of First Amendment violations, and he thinks school officials should make changes if violations are discovered.

“This has already been settled by the United States Supreme Court,” Granger said. “I would make a recommendation to the board of education that if we are in violation of the law, we should stop.”

ACLU staff attorney Drew Dennis said the group asked the school district for additional information concerning the alleged policies to find out if the issue is more widespread than initially reported.

Dennis did not comment about who made the complaints against the school district. He said ACLU’s complaint-intake process is confidential.

Sources: Toledo Blade

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