The American Humanist Association has filed suit against the Joplin, Missouri R-8 School district over a church/school violation. C.J. Huff, the District Superintendent, as well as Brandon Eggelston, Principal of North Middle School are both listed as defendants in the AHA suit.
The Controversy arose when North Middle School sent permission slips home for a post-MAP test reprieve at Victory Ministries and Sports Complex (a mega-church in Joplin, MO). The story was originally covered by Hemant Mehta, at the Friendly Atheist. Here is a photo of the permission slip:
If you notice, the word “Ministry” has been left out of the name of the Church. Also note the date: May 7th is the National Day of Prayer, a Thursday. Typically field trips like this are scheduled for a Friday because it is the least pedagogically productive day.
The plaintiffs in the case are anonymous because two of them are current R-8 students and fear retribution (it’s the Bible belt after all).
the religiosity of Victory is quite blatant. The AHA’s Exhibit A is a screenshot of the Victory Ministry’s stated goals:
The second exhibit is a blatantly proselytizing billboard sized graphic:
These signs are in the play area and are a little hard to miss.
Aside from the permission slip above, a waiver was issued to the parents to sign that on “paragraph number 6, required parents to allow their child to participate in “worship services, Bible studies or any other activities that may pertain to the Christian faith,” according to the AHA Suit
This does not bode well for the Joplin School system as there is already a budget shortfall over the fiscal waste
of the Superintendent and the past school board.
Yet, the violation cannot go unpunished. Joplin North Middle School has committed a clear cut violation of the separation of Church and State. The Principal knew this, and he has now cost the school district thousands of dollars. I guess Joplin will be looking for a new Middle School Principal for next year.
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