The American Humanist Association, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the advancement of secular humanism, has criticized a South Carolina elementary school for raising money for a local food pantry that's affiliated with a Christian church. The organization alleges that it is illegal for a public school such as Oakbrook Elementary in Ladson, South Carolina, to monetarily support a religious institution.
According to The Blaze, the Oakbrook Elementary students raised money to support the food pantry affiliated with Old Fort Baptist Church. The way the students raised funds was by selling "thank you grams," or cards that can be sent to students, parents and teachers in order to thank them during the holiday season. The cards each cost $1.00.
The American Humanist Association threatened to take legal action if the support continued. The group sent a letter to Dorchester School District Two, citing the school's "unconstitutional fundraising efforts." According to a portion of that letter, "the mission of AHA's legal center is to protect one of the most fundamental principles of our democracy: the constitutional mandate requiring separation of church and state." The letter also accuses the fundraising efforts of supporting "mission trips to proselytize Christianity."
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Pastor Eric Lethco, however, explained to the Post and Courier that the school and church have been connected for years, and that the fundraising efforts solely support its food pantry and drive that delivers backpacks to needy children during Christmas. "Of course everything we do as a church is connected to Jesus. But they're just taking food out of the mouths of children," Lethco said.
The school district has yet to respond to the AHA's threats of legal action.