School District Refuses Atheist Demand to Dissolve Pastor-Led Program as It Has No Religious Content
ICC Note: Earlier this month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a letter of complaint to an Indiana school district, demanding that they end a pastor-led program within their schools. However, the superintendent wrote a response, noting that the program was misrepresented and that it does not contain any religious content. Rather, he stated that the program teaches values of character from a non-religious perspective.
By Heather Clark
01/26/2018 United States (Christian News Network) – A school district in Indiana has refused a professing atheist group’s request that it dissolve a pastor-led program during the lunch period after investigating the matter and finding that no religious instruction is provided during the offering.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) had sent a letter to the East Porter County School Corporation earlier this month after it had reportedly been contacted by several parents of students who attend Kouts Middle/High School. The parents advised that two pastors from Heartland Christian Church have been leading the voluntary program “Elevate” during lunchtime.
“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the district to offer religious leaders access to befriend and proselytize students during the school day on school property,” the letter read. “No outside adults should be provided carte blanche access to minors—a captive audience—in a public school. This predatory conduct is inappropriate and should raise red flags.”
FFRF further contended that the fact that the program is voluntary does not alleviate the constitutional infirmities.
“The district cannot allow its schools to be used for religious instruction during the school day,” the correspondence asserted. “We write to request assurances that this practice be stopped immediately.”
However, according to the Christian Post and the Independent Journal Review, Superintendent Rod Gardin responded to FFRF on Tuesday to advise the atheist activist group that it had mischaracterized the Elevate program.