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Mississippi High School Student Victorious in Lawsuit Challenging School’s Religious Assemblies

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posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 04:14 PM

(Washington, DC, Nov 26, 2013) — A judgment has been entered by a federal court in a case brought by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center on behalf of a student at a Rankin County, Mississippi high school challenging the proselytizing religious assemblies it staged for students earlier this year. The lawsuit was filed April 24, 2013 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against administrators of Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, MS and the county school district.

The judgment includes an admission of liability by the defendants that they violated the Establishment Clause, the provision of the Constitution that requires separation of church and state. It also requires the school district to comply with a new policy that prohibits future such violations and orders the defendants to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees.

“A lot has been accomplished and I’m pleased with the outcome of the suit,” said Magdalene “Gracie” Bedi, the student plaintiff in the case. “I'm grateful for the school's maturity throughout this ordeal and I look forward to graduating with them on a positive note. No one should have to question their rights in a public school and I think Northwest [Rankin High School] realizes this now.”

Before filing suit, a letter

was sent asking school officials to stop the practice, where a student representative of the Pinelake Baptist Church spoke of finding “hope” in “Jesus Christ,” but the assemblies continued with school administrators insisting the assemblies were “student-led and organized.” According to students present, however, those who attempted to leave were prevented from doing so. At the end of the presentation, the speakers led the students in a Christian prayer. Videos captured by students can be found here and here.

copy of the complaint filed in the suit can be found.Here

“We are pleased that the school’s administrators have admitted that they violated the Constitution and agreed to continuing court oversight to prevent future violations,” said William Burgess, legal coordinator of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “There was clear evidence that these Christian assemblies were endorsed and organized by the school. To continue to deny a constitutional violation had taken place was untenable.”

Documents concerning the judgment can be found here and here.

This was an email sent to me it is well sourced for your perusal. I am kind of surprised it had to go to court. It seems pretty cut and dry especially because they were forcing kids to attend. Does anyone here think the courts did the wrong thing? Personally I applaud the student.

posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 04:27 PM
reply to post by Grimpachi

The court absolutely made the right decision. And good for her for standing up for her rights. I grew up in a very small town and had a very similar experience. No matter what the content, it is pretty scary to have anything forced on you. A classmate of mine was told directly by a teacher that she was going to hell because she didn't want to come to a particular assembly with a Christian guest speaker. I was certainly in the minority in my school and would have been terrified at that age to stand up and say anything. So again I applaud this whole situation. Thanks for posting it!

posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 06:44 PM
reply to post by Grimpachi

I too, think the court made the right decision and I'm glad that someone had the courage to challenge the school district on the issue.

It just blows me away to hear bible thumpers constantly ranting about how the rest of us are trying to remove religion from schools when quite the opposite is true. It is they who are constantly trying to imprint their religious ideology on the rest of us by demanding it be presented in the public realm. The same goes for their so called war on Christmas.

Great find, F&S for the OP!

posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 07:44 PM
I also applaud this decision.

And slightly OT, but I can't think of anything that would constitute a War on Christ-Mass more than a walk through a Walmart the day after Thanksgiving.

Somehow, the idea of giving presents in honor of the Baby Jesus' three kings has morphed into 'I HAVE to give presents to 25 different people this year, or else!!!' followed by a fast decline into permanent debt and teaching little tykes the joys of unbridled greed and consumerism.

Brainwashing, capitalist brainwashing, all of it.

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