Principal admits in email that school’s position is ‘indefensible’ in church-state fight
A Colorado school has cut its ties to an evangelical Christian charity organization after intervention by a national rights group. The American Humanist Association (AHA) told Raw Story that the group got involved in the matter at the request of a parent at the school who was concerned that school resources were being used to proselytize for an evangelical Christian group in the developing world.
Operation Christmas Child is a Boone, NC-based Christian missionary group that, according to Monica Miller of the AHA, “delivers boxes to children and people in developing countries along with a message that they should adopt the views of Jesus Christ and Christianity. In each box is a statement and accompanying materials from the organization.”
It’s not the efforts at relief for needy people that the organization objects to, but rather the binding of that relief to a religious recruitment message. AHA sent a letter to Denver, CO’s SkyView Academy — a Douglas County public school — at the behest of a parent of one of the school’s students. The letter informed the school that to solicit donations for a Christian charity is a violation of the separation of church and state.
The school, said Miller, “had a flier on the school website encouraging students and parents to participate and they were awarding students with a pizza party or an ice cream party for the class that had the most boxes.”
The parent found out about American Humanists when he read about the letter they sent to a South Carolina charter school about the same charity earlier this year.
The group has not had to file a lawsuit in either case because both schools dropped their ties with the missionary group. And while SkyView Academy’s official position has been that it halted the charity drive not out of any idea of wrongdoing, but rather to preserve the school’s “resources and reputation,” a school official admitted in an email that SkyView’s position is “indefensible.”
According to Denver’s Channel 9 News, SkyView Elementary Principal Mike Munier accidentally included reporter Kyle Clark in a group email that admitted the public school was wrong to work with a missionary group.
In his email, Munier said that conservative Christian attorneys working for the Alliance Defending Freedom said they could not defend the school against the AHA.
SkyView, according to the attorneys, wrote Munier “had an indefensible case due to a mistake on our part.” Because of the school’s actions thus far in the case, the phalanx of religious attorneys declined to represent the school.
Publicly, SkyView spokesperson Lorrie Grove, president of the school’s Board of Governors, said she has no idea what Munier was referring to.
“I don’t know what he’s referencing,” she told Channel 9. The school’s decision to break its ties with Operation Christmas Child “had nothing to do with anybody telling us we had an indefensible case.”
Watch video about this story, embedded below via Denver’s Channel 9 News: