Religion

Humanist Group Forces Mississippi Teacher To Remove Classroom Prayer Board

A Mississippi middle school teacher has been forced to take down a prayer request board she displayed in her classroom after receiving complaints and threats of legal action from a Washington D.C.-based humanist group. The teacher, Randi Roger, confronted one of her students at Lamar County’s Oak Grove Middle School after witnessing him taking a picture of the board. The student then reported the incident to his parents, who reached out to the American Human Association. 

Roger was forced to remove the board after being contacted by the AHA. The group sent a letter to the school district’s superintendent Tess Smith, arguing that the board violates the First Amendment. The letter also argued that schools should not be able to "promote or endorse" any particular religion, and that failure to remove it would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

“Ms. Rogers accused the student of ‘disrespecting’ the teacher’s religion and that even if having the word ‘prayer’ was illegal, she would continue to write names on the prayer board of those for whom she would be praying,” the letter read, according to Opposing Views. “Ms. Rogers said that if the student didn’t like it, she could move to another part of the classroom.”

According to WDAM, the school’s district attorney said the school would issue an official reply to the AHA by Wednesday. Although the letter threatened legal action, the prayer board was removed from the classroom. It is unclear if the AHA or the student in question will take any further steps against the school for its violations of religious freedom. The degree to which teachers can discuss or promote specific religions in public schools has long been debated, and this story represents yet another example of a humanist group defending the rights of students to have a religion-free education. 

Sources: WDAM , Opposing Views

Image Source: Opposing Views

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