The American Humanist Association's litigation arm, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, filed lawsuit on Wednesday against the Northwest Rankin High School for allegedly requiring students to attend an awards ceremony on April 9 where they were told to pray and heard a Christian message from a guest speaker.
According to a press release from the American Humanist Association, a speaker from the Pinelake Baptist Church told students on the Rankin County, Miss., campus about finding "hope" in "Jesus Christ."
The American Humanist Association claims that students who tried to leave the assembly were not allowed to, reports WAFB (video below).
According to the lawsuit:
Defendants violated said consent decree by holding an awards ceremony on campus and during class hours that included a prayer by a Christian Reverend... After the students were seated, they were told to stand up for the prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance… They were then told to bow their heads to pray… The prayer referred to "God" several times and alluded to Jesus.
The Rankin County School District said in a statement on Thursday afternoon: "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."
William Burgess, of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, countered, "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."
Last November, high school students won a lawsuit against Rankin County School District for sponsoring religious events at school.
This latest lawsuit also stemmed from a student who contacted the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
"The student plaintiff attended the April 2014 awards ceremony held by the school district and immediately contacted me," Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, told The Christian Post. "The defendants will have an opportunity to respond to our motion. The court will decide whether or not to hold a hearing."