Mississippi High School Accused of Forcing Students to Listen to Christian Messages
The Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi was sued on Wednesday by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, which claims the school forced students to watch a Christian video and listen to church officials of the Pinelake Baptist Church preach about Christianity, noted WLOX.com.
The Appignani Humanist Legal Center learned of the religious activities from some unidentified students, according to a press release.
The lawsuit claims the public school violated the students' First Amendment rights and says that teachers blocked the exits to prevent students from leaving the April 9 assembly.
“See, before Jesus came, innocent blood had to be shed for our sins,” one of the Pinelake Baptist Church officials allegedly told the students. “There had to be an animal that was sacrificed to atone for our sin. There had to be innocent blood. So Jesus came and he was the innocent blood because he lived a perfect life. He was that innocent blood."
While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that student-led religious events are allowed, school-sponsored religious events violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
"Our students have the freedom to organize student-led and planned meetings and the assembly in question was student led and organized. The meetings were not mandatory," the Rankin County School District said in a written statement.
"It is clear that these assemblies are put on by the school itself. They were staged in a school room, during the school day and the school sent an email to teachers telling them that students were required to attend," said William Burgess, legal coordinator of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.