Published November 26, 2013
The latest allegations from the American Humanist Association are shocking, titillating, and (cue the 1950s soap opera organist) downright scandalous.
In a complaint filed by the organization on November 20 a Missouri public school teacher has been accused of praying for an injured student, organizing a project to feed hungry children and (brace yourself) -- cavorting with a Methodist.
“Teachers simply cannot participate in prayers with students at school, nor can they promote their religious beliefs in any other way to their students,” the AHA said in a statement.
The humanists filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two students accusing Gwen Pope and the Fayette R-III School District of violating the Constitution by allowing a Christian club to meet before the start of the school day. The school's former principal is also named in the lawsuit.
Mrs. Pope, who is no longer teaching at the school, was the sponsor of the Fellowship of Christian Students at Fayette High School. Since 2010, students have voluntarily gathered before the start of the school day to pray and read the Bible in her classroom.
The American Humanist Association said the two unnamed complainants had been subjected to “unwelcome encounters with the classroom prayer sessions.”
It seems her classroom is near the entrance door of the school and apparently non-believing students could see their classmates engaged in religious activities.
They alleged that Mrs. Pope and the students were seen reading Bible verses and (again, brace yourself) praying for the ill.
“When a student was sick or injured, Pope frequently asked the students in attendance to pray for the afflicted student and joined the attending students in prayer by bowing her head, closing her eyes and saying amen,” the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit specifically mentions an incident that occurred during the 2010-11 school year when a classmate had been hospitalized for knee surgery.
Mrs. Pope allegedly encouraged the students to pray for the young man. The lawsuit describes in great detail the aftermath of that request.
“She then bowed her head and closed her eyes,” the lawsuit states. “At the end of the prayer, Pope joined the students in saying aloud, ‘Amen.’”
Can you believe a public school would tolerate such diabolical behavior?
The AHA also took issue with a flier that promoted the club’s participation in the “Buddy Pack” program at a local food pantry. The packs are filled with food and given to elementary school students to take home over the weekend.
As egregious as feeding the poor might have been, the humanists were especially troubled by Mrs. Pope’s reading material. She was accused of owning a Bible. Yes, a Bible.
“This display violates the Establishment Clause as a student would reasonably perceive it as her promoting her religious views to her students,” the AHA said in a statement.
So what’s the school supposed to do – round up all the Bibles and host an old-fashioned book burning?
As for the cavorting with the Methodist charge – it turns out Mrs. Pope’s husband is a former youth minister for the local Methodist church – and he was invited to attend the club prayer sessions.
I spoke to the school superintendent on Monday and she sent me a statement noting they had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit.
“The district strives to respect and abide by the constitutional rights of its students and staff members,” the statement read. “It will vigorously defend against any claim that the district has taken actions which violate any persons’ First Amendment rights.
The American Humanist Association wants the judge to end all religious activity at the school as well as award monetary damages to the “offended” students, according to the lawsuit.
This over-the-top attack on Christianity is just unbelievable. Then again, what do you expect from a bunch of humanists who don't believe in anything that really matters?