ICC Note: On November 10, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a letter of complaint to the superintendent of an Arkansas school district. The complaint arose after the organization learned that students at a local elementary school would be participating in a Thanksgiving program that included a brief prayer of thanks. After the superintendent looked into the matter, he decided to remove the prayer from the program, in yet another instance in which religion is being stripped out of the public school system in the United States.
By Heather Clark
11/23/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – A prayer thanking God for life’s blessings was recently removed from an Arkansas elementary school’s Thanksgiving program after one of the nation’s most conspicuous atheist activists groups lodged a complaint.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to the superintendent of the Westside Consolidated School District on Nov. 10 after being informed by a parent that students at Westside Elementary School were sent home with lyrics to memorize for the program, which included a prayer of thanks to God.
“Thank You for the world so sweet/Thank You for the food we eat/Thank You for the birds that sing/Thank You, God, for everything,” the poem was to have read.
FFRF contended that the prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
“[P]ublic schools have an obligation to remain neutral toward religion,” the letter read. “Moreover, inducing young and impressionable children to give thanks to God is a usurpation of parental authority.”
“Such a practice alienates the students, teachers and members of the community whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school, particularly the 24% of all Americans, and 38% of Americans born after 1987, who are not religious,” FFRF asserted.
The group therefore requested that “all references to God or religion” be removed from the Thanksgiving program, and asked for a written response advising how the district would take steps to do so.