Humanists Prevail in Challenge to Religious Activities in Douglas County Schools

American Humanist Association's picture

For Immediate Release

Contact:

David Niose, 202-238-9088, dniose@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., July 18, 2018)—The American Humanist Association is pleased with a Colorado federal court’s latest ruling in a long-running lawsuit by the AHA and local parents against the Douglas County School District. The decision was issued yesterday in the case of American Humanist Association, et. als, vs. Douglas County School District, a case originally filed in 2014 in which the plaintiffs objected to numerous activities of the school district in promoting Christianity.

The decision, by Judge R. Brooke Jackson, finds that the school district violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by promoting and raising money for a Christian mission trip. The school district, through various activities that were incorporated into the ordinary school day of Christian and non-Christian students, raised funds and had students use class time to make crafts such as “salvation bracelets” that would be given to children in developing countries via a Christian mission trip.

The case had been remanded to the federal district court after the plaintiffs succeeded in an appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals last year.

Religious minorities in public schools should never be faced with school-sponsored activity that promotes the majority religion,” said David Niose, AHA legal director. “The court’s ruling correctly finds that the district’s activities had the effect of promoting religion and excessively entangled the government with religion.”

“Our legal team fought long and hard for church-state separation in Douglas County, and we are glad to see that justice is prevailing,” said AHA executive director Roy Speckhardt. “The Constitution frowns upon the kind of religious activity that has been going on in schools there.”

The parties will be conferring in the weeks ahead, per the court’s order, to discuss reaching an agreement on the specific terms of the court’s judgment.

A copy of the decision can be found here.

Selected Case Documents: 

Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum of Law in Support of their Motion for Summary Judgment (filed 08/03/2015, U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado)

Appellants-Petitioners’ Brief (filed 05/02/2016, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit)

Plaintiffs’ Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment Supplemental (filed 09/08/2017, U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado)

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming worldview of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

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