Atheist complaint leads to removal of prayer at US school district

A US school district has banned all public prayers during official school events, following a complaint from a group of atheists.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) claimed it was “unconstitutional” for schools in Jennings County, Indiana, to “schedule, approve or otherwise endorse prayers or other religious messages”.

The group cited an anonymous complaint from someone who was offended by prayers at school dinner events in 2014 and 2015.


The FFRF wrote an open letter complaining that: “A prayer taking place at a ‘regularly scheduled school-sponsored function conducted on school property’ would lead an objective observer to perceive it as state endorsement of religion.”

It added that the school district has “a duty to remain neutral toward religion”.

The district has responded by stating that they “will no longer incorporate prayer as an official aspect of any program”.

Gideon Bibles

The FFRF has a long history of making complaints against Christian activities.

Earlier this year, the group successfully campaigned to remove Bibles from a hotel run by Arizona State University. They claimed that a member of staff was offended by seeing one of the Bibles in a room.

The Bibles had been placed in the rooms of the Thunderbird Executive Inn by Gideons International. They have now been removed but remain available at reception.


But the group were defeated in their case to remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from US currency.

FFRF co-president Dan Barker had claimed that the motto was “a religious phrase” that had no place in government.

New York District Court Judge Harold Baer dismissed the case in 2013.

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