BREAKING! FFRF with students, parents sues Huntington, W.Va., schools over Christian revival

  
Via:  sandy-2021492  •  4 months ago  •  61 comments


BREAKING! FFRF with students, parents sues Huntington, W.Va., schools over Christian revival
 

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S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Nearly a dozen parents and students, with help from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed a high-profile federal lawsuit today over a Christian revival in a West Virginia school that prompted a recent student walkout.

More than 100 students, led by Huntington High School senior Max Nibert, staged a dramatic walkout on Feb. 9 to protest some students being forced to attend an evangelical Christian revival at the school on Feb. 2. The walkout, with students chanting “Separate the church and state” and “My faith, my choice,” was covered not only nationally by the Washington Post, NPR and CNN but also internationally.

The legal complaint in the case, Mays v. Cabell County Board of Education, notes, “For years, school system employees have violated the constitutional rights of students by promoting and advancing the Christian religion, as well as by coercing students into participating in Christian religious activity.” The lawsuit charges that two Huntington High School teachers during homeroom on Feb. 2 escorted their entire classes to the revival. Students, including a Jewish student who asked to leave but was not permitted to do so, were instructed to bow their heads in prayer and raise up their hands and were warned they needed to make a decision to follow Jesus or face eternal torment. Adult volunteers from a local church went into the crowd to pray with students. Plaintiff students observed teachers and administrators praying with church volunteers. Huntington High Principal Daniel Gleason was present at the assembly along with assistant principals.

Evangelist Nik Walker, who runs Nik Walker Ministries and had been leading revivals in Huntington for weeks, even prayed to thank God for the fact “that you are not going to let these students leave without . . . knowing you.”

FFRF has written several legal complaint letters over adult proselytizing, prayer and religious practices aimed at students within Cabell County Schools, which have been ignored.

Huntington East Middle School held separate Nik Walker Ministries assemblies on Feb. 1. It is FFRF’s understanding that a staff member requested the events and that some students attending those assemblies did not do so voluntarily. It seems parents were not informed in advance.

The lawsuit contends, “At the behest of adult evangelists, Huntington High School held an assembly for students that sought to convert students to evangelical Christianity. Some students were forced to attend. Regardless of whether attendance is mandatory or voluntary, the defendants violate the First Amendment by permitting, coordinating and encouraging students to attend an adult-led worship service and revival at their school during the school day. Parents and students bring this suit to stop these practices.”

Bethany Felinton, mother of the Jewish student, is one of the plaintiffs, along with three of her children. Most student plaintiffs are identified only by initials, with the exception of Max Nibert. They are suing the Cabell County Board of Education, its superintendent and Huntington High School Principal Daniel Gleason. Plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction enjoining the district from sponsoring any religious worship services, adult-led religious activities during the school day or participating in such events with students during the school day. Plaintiffs are seeking nominal damages in the amount of $1 per plaintiffs, plus costs and attorney’s fees.

Nibert, who is a named plaintiff, passed around a petition during the rally, getting about 75 signatures. During the protest, he said: “I have never been prouder of a group of my peers than I am right now. When ordinary citizens find their circumstances to be unfair, they change them. And that’s exactly what we’re doing today.”

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker is full of admiration for the students.

“We are so proud of these students and their parents for standing up for our secular schools and for student rights of conscience,” he says. “And we’re proud that FFRF is representing these champions of the First Amendment.”

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs include outside counsel Marc Schneider, FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott, FFRF Attorney Chris Line and West Virginia-based attorney Kristina Thomas Whiteaker.


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sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
1  seeder  sandy-2021492    4 months ago
The legal complaint in the case, Mays v. Cabell County Board of Education, notes, “For years, school system employees have violated the constitutional rights of students by promoting and advancing the Christian religion, as well as by coercing students into participating in Christian religious activity.” The lawsuit charges that two Huntington High School teachers during homeroom on Feb. 2 escorted their entire classes to the revival. Students, including a Jewish student who asked to leave but was not permitted to do so, were instructed to bow their heads in prayer and raise up their hands and were warned they needed to make a decision to follow Jesus or face eternal torment. Adult volunteers from a local church went into the crowd to pray with students. Plaintiff students observed teachers and administrators praying with church volunteers. Huntington High Principal Daniel Gleason was present at the assembly along with assistant principals.
 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @1    4 months ago

Hope that they win their case as it seems to me that this is a huge violation of the separation of church and state.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  Kavika @1.1    4 months ago

Me, too.  The schools either need to stop hosting revivals, or start inviting representatives of all religions to hold services there.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.2  devangelical  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1.1.1    4 months ago

I think the damages sought should have been greater. like enough to give those thumpers a reason to pass the collection plate for a decade or more.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
1.1.3  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  devangelical @1.1.2    4 months ago

Unfortunately, about the last thing any school system in WV needs is for their funds to be diverted to cover a lawsuit.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.4  devangelical  replied to  sandy-2021492 @1.1.3    4 months ago

true, but they should fire all the school employees involved and go after the church leadership that instigated or participated in this unconstitutional act.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
1.1.5  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  devangelical @1.1.4    4 months ago

I can agree with that.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
1.1.6  Gordy327  replied to  Kavika @1.1    4 months ago

Absolutely.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
1.1.7  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Kavika @1.1    4 months ago

It is a violation of separation of church and state unless it is a religious based, i.e. Catholic school or such. Biggest mistake made was holding said revival on school grounds rather than a separate neutral place like a park or something. This does not belong in public schools.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
2  JBB    4 months ago

Hard to believe this happened, but apparently it did...

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Senior Quiet
2.1  Jack_TX  replied to  JBB @2    4 months ago
Hard to believe this happened,

My thoughts exactly.  We're only seeing the allegations in the lawsuit (one side of the story), so it's probably not as bad as it's being portrayed. 

That said, if what we're reading is even slightly accurate, it's a huge problem.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3  devangelical    4 months ago

I'm extremely fortunate that my home state doesn't put up with any thumper bullshit in public schools.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4  arkpdx    4 months ago

FFRF can kiss my fat, hairy, pimplely ass.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  arkpdx @4    4 months ago

So, not a fan of the Constitution, eh?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.1  devangelical  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    4 months ago

thumpers are increasingly desperate to salvage whatever is left of their rapidly diminishing influence and numbers to the point of breaking every commandment and defying the very document that allows them the free dumb to be 3 millennium behind everyone else with average intelligence. they're either too ignorant or brainwashed to grasp the concept of "none of the above" as a legitimate religious choice of the 1st amendment.

 
 
 
epistte
Junior Principal
4.1.2  epistte  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    4 months ago

Only when it's free speech that they support or their sect of Christianity. I wonder how he would feel if the students were told to kneel toward Mecca or face suspension, or maybe the Satanists held a revival during American Literature class. 

BTW. ARKPDX, That's a mental image that nobody ever wanted.  Im going to order a 55-gallon drum of brain bleach from Amazon.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.3  arkpdx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1    4 months ago

Oh no. I am a huge fan of the Constitution. It's the FFRF I don't and will never like. Other groups I don't particularly care for are AOC and her squad, Antifa, BLM, the SPLC, the Nazis, the communists, the KKK, Westboro baptist, anyone associated with George Soros, most of the time the ACLU. And guess what? It is my right not to like those groups.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.4  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.3    4 months ago
I am a huge fan of the Constitution.

Well, that's what they're defending.  Moreover, I'm pretty sure you know that, and are just trolling.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.5  arkpdx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.4    4 months ago

They are not defending anything. The school is not congress and FFRF has not relationship to the school and is not harmed in any way.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.6  arkpdx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.4    4 months ago

There is nothing that says I have to like the FFRF regardless of what theydo

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.7  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.5    4 months ago

The school is a taxpayer-funded public institution administered by the government, and therefore cannot favor one religion, let along coerce students into taking part.  SCOTUS says you're wrong, and has for decades.

But again, I'm pretty sure you know that, and are just trolling.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.8  devangelical  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.5    4 months ago

what an incredibly misinformed comment.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.9  Kavika   replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.7    4 months ago
But again, I'm pretty sure you know that, and are just trolling.

Ya think.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.10  Gordy327  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.5    4 months ago

So you're OK with a public school forcing religious teaching and activities on students?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1.11  Trout Giggles  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.3    4 months ago

What kinds of grades did you get in Civics?

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.12  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1.11    4 months ago

they didn't teach that in gym class...

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.13  arkpdx  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1.11    4 months ago

probably better than yours. I most likely went to a better school than you too.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.14  arkpdx  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.10    4 months ago

I went to Catholic school thru 12th grade. Having religious teachings and events never hurt me nor did it hurt the non Catholic schoolmates.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.15  arkpdx  replied to  devangelical @4.1.8    4 months ago

Tell me, just what does the Constitution say about church and state. Be specific and do quote the Constitution word for word.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.16  Gordy327  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.14    4 months ago

Catholic schools are religious and usually private schools. I'm talking about general public schools. Can you answer the question or are you just being obtuse?

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.17  arkpdx  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.16    4 months ago

I have no problem with public schools teaching about religions. Why would I?

Are you or devangelical going to answer my question in 4.1.15?

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.18  Gordy327  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.17    4 months ago

Then you have a problem with the constitution, the Founding Fathers, and multiple legal precedents. Duly noted.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
4.1.19  JBB  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.17    4 months ago

What if a school had an assembly were some satanic priests converted Christian children?

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.20  arkpdx  replied to  JBB @4.1.19    4 months ago

Asinine question. But just so you know when I was in high school we had classes in comparative religions including both Christian and non Christian religions where we went to other religions services. We had a entire semester devoted to the study of Buddhism and went to a Hanimatsuri ceremony.

I have no I ssue with religion being taught in schools especially if it is an elective. I also have no problem with having religious clubs and things like Bible study on schools.

Maybe having prayers said in schools and a little religious  training on schools might curb some of the violence we. See these days

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.21  arkpdx  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.20    4 months ago

By the way I am still waiting for one of you to answer 4.1.15.

Are you ?

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.22  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.17    4 months ago
I have no problem with public schools teaching about religions.

Except that's not what we're talking about.  This was not a comparative religions class.  This was a public school providing a church with a captive audience with the force of the government behind it.

And WV has its own Constitution, which was also violated.

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever; nor shall any man be enforced, restrained, molested or burthened, in his body or goods, or otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument, to maintain their opinions in matters of religion; and the same shall, in nowise, affect, diminish or enlarge their civil capacities; and the Legislature shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this state, to levy on themselves, or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house for public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry, but it shall be left free for every person to select his religious instructor, and to make for his support, such private contracts as he shall please.

Taxpayers can't be forced to support churches.  Providing a church with a meeting place and a captive audience violates the West Virginia State Constitution, as well as the United States Constitution.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.23  arkpdx  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.18    4 months ago

Have no problem with the founding fathers. One of their first actions aftethe adoption of the Constitution was to create the office of the Congressional Chaplain and to start each session of Congress with a prayer or invocation. Those are things that continue til present day.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.24  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.20    4 months ago
Asinine question.

No, it's just putting the shoe on the other foot.  If it's allowed for one religion, it must be allowed for all.  After School Satan clubs for everybody!

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.25  Gordy327  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.23    4 months ago

Have no problem with the founding fathers. One of their first actions aftethe adoption of the Constitution was to create the office of the Congressional Chaplain and to start each session of Congress with a prayer or invocation.

They were also the ones who came up with the separation of church and state. So I'm glad you have no problem with that.

I have no I ssue with religion being taught in schools especially if it is an elective. I also have no problem with having religious clubs and things like Bible study on schools.

The issue isn't about elective classes on religion. It's about students being forced to attend to religious ceremony.

Maybe having prayers said in schools and a little religious  training on schools might curb some of the violence we. See these days

Except that it  (teacher led/supported) is unconstitutional.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.26  Gordy327  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.24    4 months ago
After School Satan clubs for everybody!

Didn't some students try to establish a Satan club at a school in response to another group forming a christian club several years ago?

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1.27  Trout Giggles  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.13    4 months ago

I got straight A's in high school. As for a better school? Meh

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.28  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.26    4 months ago

I vaguely remember something about that, but not the details.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.29  arkpdx  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.25    4 months ago

I'll ask again. Where in the constitution does it say that? Again be specific and quote the exact section.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.30  arkpdx  replied to  sandy-2021492 @4.1.7    4 months ago

It says that where. Be specific please

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
4.1.31  seeder  sandy-2021492  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.30    4 months ago

Pretty much in the entire paragraph I copied and pasted.  

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.32  Gordy327  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.29    4 months ago

The first Amendment. Refer to the Establishment and free exercise clause.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.33  arkpdx  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.25    4 months ago
They were also the ones who came up with the separation of church and state.

Actually they didn't.

Also are you saying that having a chaplain that,  by definition is a religious person, and by saying a prayer o invocation, also a religious activity, in Congress is a separation of church and state?

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.34  arkpdx  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.32    4 months ago

You mean this part?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Show me anywhere in there that says it is in constitutional for the school to do this. The school certainly is not Congress.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
4.1.35  JBB  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.20    4 months ago

You avoided answering my question. What would you think if children at a public school supported by your tax dollars were herded into a Church Of Satan assembly at school?

Hell, what do you think would have happened if children at the parochial school you went to a million years ago were taken to a religious ceremony where they were prostheatized to by any other faith than their own? Most Baptists would be mad as Hell if their kids were exposed to a Catholic mass. Most Catholics would feel the same reciprocally. You really are not thinking this through. Most of us learned these religious freedom principles in public school which you admittedly did not attend...

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.36  arkpdx  replied to  JBB @4.1.35    4 months ago

When I was in high school the school took us to a Buddhist ceremony and an Episcopalian mass. We also had a Lutheran and a Presbyterian ministers come to the school and teach us about their religions.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.37  arkpdx  replied to  JBB @4.1.35    4 months ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
4.1.38  JBB  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.36    4 months ago

1. You attended a non-public parochial school.

2. If so, that was a part of some type of a comparative religion program. This was a religious revival. Quit playing cluelessness!

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
4.1.39  JBB  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.37    4 months ago

No wonder I usually avoid interacting with you.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.40  arkpdx  replied to  JBB @4.1.38    4 months ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.41  arkpdx  replied to  JBB @4.1.39    4 months ago

[[Taunting]]  And it doesn't matter what type of school I went to. Having religious classes and exposure to other belief has not hurt me one it. It also didn't hurt my non Catholic classmates (there were several) either.

Why are you afraid of being exposed to religion

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.42  Gordy327  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.34    4 months ago
Show me anywhere in there that says it is in constitutional for the school to do this. The school certainly is not Congress.

The Courts, especially the SCOTUS says it's there. Who better than the SCOTUS to interpret the Constitution or the intentions of the Founding Fathers? The landmark SCOTUS case, Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), prohibited school led prayer (a "religious activity"), as it was unconstitutional. Then there was Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), which prohibited school led bible readings.  I suspect teacher led religious activities such as the issue in question will fall along the lines of Engel & Abington. 

Why are you afraid of being exposed to religion

That's what churches are for. Not public schools.

Actually they didn't.

Yes, they did! Particularly Jefferson and Madison.

Also are you saying that having a chaplain that,  by definition is a religious person, and by saying a prayer o invocation, also a religious activity, in Congress is a separation of church and state?

No, it's a violation of separation. Even Madison was opposed to it.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.43  arkpdx  replied to  Gordy327 @4.1.42    4 months ago

At one time the courts including SCOTUS approve things like slavery, separate but equal  and others. The courts have been found to be wrong in many instances. They were wrong there also.

 
 
 
arkpdx
PhD Participates
4.1.44  arkpdx  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.43    4 months ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
4.1.45  Gordy327  replied to  arkpdx @4.1.43    4 months ago

The courts have affirmed separation and the intentions of the FF in multiple precedents for nearly 150 years. The courts ate certainly not wrong about that. So that's not likely to change. The government has no business promoting or endorsing religion on anyone. I suspect if this religious activity was a Muslim, Satanist, or other religious activity, Christians would likely be up in arms over it.

 
 
 
Veronica
Masters Expert
6  Veronica    4 months ago

I think all children in public schools need to don robes, form a circle around a bonfire, hold on to their ceremonial object (wand, athame, candle...) and praise the Goddesses and Gods that create our beautiful world. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
7  Paula Bartholomew    4 months ago

I would just keep my kid(s) home any day these things are scheduled if they did not want to attend them.

 
 

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