A high school in central Mississippi allegedly forced students to watch a Christian video and listen to church officials preach about Jesus Christ.
The American Humanist Association’s legal center filed a lawsuit against Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood on Wednesday, accusing the school of violating the student’s First Amendment rights.
The school has held at least three mandatory assemblies about finding hope in Jesus Christ this month, according to the lawsuit. The assemblies showed a video laced with Christian messages about overcoming personal hardships through Jesus Christ and were allegedly led by local church officials.
“See, before Jesus came, innocent blood had to be shed for our sins,” one of the church officials allegedly told the students. “There had to be an animal that was sacrificed toatone for our sin. There had to be innocent blood. So Jesus came and he was the innocent blood because he lived a perfect life. He was that innocent blood. See the last few years of Jesus’ life he traveled from region to region and country to country and he had 12 disciples that followed him everywhere. And he talked about the hope he was bringing.”
The assemblies concluded with a prayer and teachers blocked the exits to prevent students from leaving, the lawsuit claimed. A disillusioned student videotaped one of the assemblies.
Though student-led religious groups and activities are constitutionally permissible in public schools, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that faculty-sponsored religious events violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from advancing or endorsing religion.
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