FFRF asks Nev. school to remove unconstitutional religious displays

DiscoveryCharterSchool

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state/church watchdog, sent a letter asking a public charter school to remove or cover the religious iconography present at its new campus inside a church.

According to FFRF’s complainant, Discovery Charter School in Las Vegas recently moved its K-4 campus to Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, an active church with services on Sundays. This church campus has many Latin crosses and other religious iconography on display.

It is well-settled law that school districts may not display religious messages or imagery in public schools, FFRF reminds the school district.

“It appears Discovery Charter School made no effort to remove any religious imagery on this building when DCS began using it as a public charter school,” writes FFRF Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Christopher Line to the school. “The appearance that the school endorses Christianity is overwhelming and undeniable. If DCS wishes to continue leasing from a religious organization, it must ensure that the school environment is constitutionally compliant.”

Additionally, as FFRF’s letter points out, the fact that this building is only leased by the school, rather than owned, does not exempt the school from adhering to the law.

“Any reasonable observer would understand Discovery Charter School to endorse religious messages on, or in, its schools,” Line writes. “DCS may not contract around its constitutional obligation to remain neutral on matters of religion, and churches may not smuggle religious iconography into public schools by leasing church buildings to a public school.”

FFRF is requesting that the school promptly covers or removes all religious icons and that the school take all necessary steps to ensure this violation does not recur.

“The injection of religion into public schools is as divisive as it is unconstitutional,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “This religious imagery unnecessarily alienates students and families who practice minority religions or no religion at all.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members across the country, including members in Nevada. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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