Unconstitutional Christian Assembly At Northwest Rankin High School

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

CHURCH STATENorthwest Rankin High School is a public high school located in Flowood, Mississippi. On Tuesday April 9th, a  student, representing Pinelake Baptist Church, addressed an assembly at the school and showed a video of two young men who had been “saved” from drugs and sex. Several students reported the mandatory assembly, during school hours, to the Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC). AHLC coordinator William Burgess sent a letter of condemnation to principal Charles Frazier.

Rankin County School District released a statement saying the assembly was not mandatory:

Our students have the freedom to organize student-led and planned meetings and the assembly in question was student-led and organized.

However, the AHLC letter claims that the assembly was mandatory and an e-mail, shown here with names redacted, from Frazier to faculty members bears this out. As the AHLC letter notes: “Making attendance voluntary would not cure the constitutional infirmity.” This is borne out by the Court’s frazier e-mailopinion in Lee v. Weisman (1992), where J. Kennedy wrote in the opinion of the Court: “the government may no more use social pressure to enforce orthodoxy than it may use more direct means.” The school can take no part any private student meetings promoting religion.

The AHLC letter notes that having a student deliver the presentation does not “absolve the school and its officials from liability.” That the presentation was school-sponsored and held on school property during class-time is sufficient for a violation of the Establishment Clause. The violation is exacerbated by Frazier’s promoting student attendance of the assembly as a requirement.

The AHLC letter also claims that several students, who tried to leave, were harassed by a principal and told to sit back down. One has to admire the students’ courage, in the face of official intimidation, in attempting to escape the proselytizing.

In her concurrence in Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), J. O’Connor wrote:

The purpose prong of the Lemon test asks … whether, irrespective of government’s actual purpose, the practice under review in fact conveys a message of endorsement or disapproval. An affirmative answer to either question should render the challenged practice invalid.

Clearly, school officials used the authority of their office to require and maintain attendance at a Christian proselytizing meeting. This is a blatant example of Christian privilege and a violation of the Establishment Clause. The Rankin County School District better rein in Frazier, or they’ll have to use taxpayer funds to pay for defense lawyers in a civil suit.

The intent of the Establishment Clause is found in the words of the founders, whose envisioned a “perfect separation” between church and state. The progression towards that “perfect separation” requires constant vigilance. History shows us that those in power will use that power to maintain their dominance. New converts are essential for religions to maintain the status quo. Let religion obtain those converts using the persuasion by argument, rather than the coercion by authority. The historical predominance of the latter testifies to the ineffectiveness of the former.

H/T: Hemant Mehta.

155 thoughts on “Unconstitutional Christian Assembly At Northwest Rankin High School


    A judgment has been entered by a federal court in a case brought by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center on behalf of a student at a Rankin County, Mississippi high school challenging the proselytizing religious assemblies it staged for students earlier this year.

    The judgment includes an admission of liability by the defendants that they violated the Establishment Clause, the provision of the Constitution that requires separation of church and state. It also requires the school district to comply with a new policy that prohibits future such violations and orders the defendants to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees.

  2. The muslims joined the nazis in ww2 in order to get the british out of palestine. the enemy (germany) of their enemy (england) was their ally, exactly like the enemy (russia) of our enemy (germany) was our ally. to ascribe other motivation to muslims in that conflict would be a very strange choice.

  3. Gene it was improbable with an improbable outcome. (I have written about it at Experience Projecthttp://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Believe-In-Miracles/222139 )
    My point was to agree with OS about the small mindedness, and vision, of those who see only their particular version of Belief is acceptable.
    (and absolutely no matter to what or whom you ascribe it, a good outcome is a good outcome.)

  4. OS & Gene,

    What amazes me about such a mindset is looked at from the perspective of a believer in God, that kind of attitude itself seems blasphemy. It makes the concept of “The Creator of the Universe” into a vain sadist. They just can’t get this blinded as they are by their unreasoning faith.

  5. OS,

    Yep. It’s truly amazing that some think because they worship an omniscient omnipresent being that it by association makes them omniscient omnipresent. It’s truly a delusional state of mind.

  6. leejcaroll,

    I think it depends upon how one defines “miraculous”. While many here would discount divine intervention, I think most of the hardcore logicians (such as myself and Tony) would consider the massive good fortune of an improbable but possible outcome as “personally miraculous” in it is transformative good chance – outrageous fortune – even though we’d discount divine agency. The miracle of good fortune or the good fortune of miracles is in the end a distinction without a difference when considering the outcome. How one attributes it is a matter of faith (or not). Act of God or act of chance, in the final wash a good outcome is a good outcome.

  7. OS I was given what I and a number of my docs call a Miracle.
    What amazes me is that the ones who disagree with what happened to me tend to be members of other churches and denominations apparently similar to the one of the person you described.
    When I tell what happened they immediately reply “It did not happen the way you said. This is how it happened.” and they take what I said and absent the Miracle, it has nothing to do with how I described what happened: it has to be according to their beliefs, the teller and direct recipient of what happened being irrelevant to their truth.
    (I realize many here would discount Miracles so I have left out the particulars, and irrelevant to the discussion.)

  8. Gene,
    I once had a client who was, surprisingly, well educated with a Master’s degree in a medical field (not physician), who thought anyone who was not a member of her church was going to Hell. She was not even a member of one of the mainstream churches. Her church was nationwide in membership, but one of the smaller Christian denominations. I questioned her about various people, and was gobsmacked when she informed me that Mother Teresa was going to go to hell too, because despite her medical work with the poor, Mother Teresa was not a member of her own church. Same with Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

    So let me get this straight. Of all the billions of people on earth, only the few thousand who belong to her particular church are exempt from eternal damnation. As George Carlin said, “But God LOVES you.”

    It must be great to be privy to all the truth about the creator of the universe with a hundred percent certainty. With smug satisfaction.

  9. Mike,

    I’m betting he thinks the Papists are going to Hell along with the rest of the heathens. 😀

  10. I never cease to be amazed at the people who know little or nothing about science making claims about scientific research and findings. Then want to argue with real scientists. People who actually do know stuff. They like to use Charles Darwin as a punching bag because every jot and tittle he wrote about his studies in the 1830’s has not held up 100% over the past 170+ years of scientific progress since he first made his observations. For that matter, Freud was wrong about a number of things too, but that does not make his insights about the existence of the unconscious mind less valid.

    When my oldest son was in pre-med, on the first day of class, the professor gave a short cautionary talk. The prof said that if anyone wanted to propose creationism as a scientific theory they were in the wrong class, and should dis-enroll immediately. The professor continued, “Consider evolution to be a law, not a theory.”

    That particular college is renowned as a ‘doctor factory’ because 100% of the students who manage to make it all the way through pre-med to a degree get into medical school. It is run by the Methodist Church. The laws and scientific principles governing evolution do not conflict with the religious teachings of the Methodist Church.

    In the meantime, here is some food for thought. The story at the link below has photos of an actual “science” test given to elementary school students in South Carolina. What are the chances kids from this school will do well on the MCAT if they want to go to medical school?


    • What are the chances kids from this school will do well on the MCAT if they want to go to medical school?

      Their chances are zero of course, which is FINE by me since I would not anyone of those kids to get close to a medical facility as a health care worker, much less as a doctor. Such people as this will self select for low paying jobs which require no thought and that is fine by me. It is too bad that any talent which the kids might have will be lost, but that is what the parents want so they are the ones to decide, not me.

  11. Drew Birkmyre:

    Evolution contradicts many known laws, like biogenesis and the second law of thermodynamics.

    Not true. This has been debunked for a long time:

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics,
    Evolution, and Probability

    As will be shown later on, it is only the over-all entropy of a complete, or closed system that must increase when spontaneous change occurs. In the case of spontaneously interacting sub-systems of a closed system, some may gain entropy, while others may lose entropy.

  12. Drew:

    And yet evolution doctrines which have been proved wrong still continue to be taught for years afterwards.

    Feel free to point out how Darwin’s theory of “common descent” has been proven wrong.

  13. See, this is how ad hominem works:

    “Your argument is logically flawed and your definitions faulty. You are arguing from ignorance.” – Not ad hominem. (Argument from ignorance is an informal logical fallacy. If you take that personally? I suggest learning to argue better.)

    “Your argument is flawed because you’re a dick.” – Absolutely ad hominem.

    The first is saying your argument is wrong on technical grounds. The second is saying your argument is wrong because you’re X. X = some personal trait.

    See the distinction?

    Now, back to the matter at hand. Actually I attacked your definition of science, but do dismiss people who do the equivalent of claiming the moon is made of cheese as being ignorant.

    As for your contention that “evolution has been proven wrong”, well, that’s your opinion, but the bevy of scientists I presented above disagree with you. Modifying a theory based on new information is not the equivalent of invalidating a theory. Einstein didn’t invalidate Newton. He explained things about gravitation that Newton did not/could not. He added to the continuum of knowledge. Just because some theories are invalidated by new theories or information does not mean all theories are invalidated by new theories or information. You are engaging in the fallacy of composition, a false dichotomy and a false equivalence. Logical fallacy is not the way to win an argument let alone compound logical fallacies. But this isn’t surprising. Your entire line of drivel is based on the false equivalence of creationism being science when it isn’t.

    Also and again, atheism and evolution? Have nothing to do with one another. I accept evolution as fact because I understand how the scientific method works and I’ve seen the vast preponderance of evidence that proves it true. Whatever my choice in faith (or no faith at all) might be has nothing to do with that. However, I do know some Christians who have no problem in reconciling the facts of science – including evolution – to their faith. Only those who feel like their faith is threatened by science gyrate the way you do in furtherance of creationism. Science is the search for truth. Science does this by continuously comparing its theories objectively with evidence in the natural world. This empirical search and gathering of evidence is the core of the scientific method.

    Adaptive evolution through natural selection is the scientific explanation for speciation. This is so whether or not you approve or agree because this is what the preponderance of evidence illustrates to be true. And in case you didn’t understand why fruit flies are important? It’s because artificial selection in a lab models natural selection in the wild as a process. Speaking of which . . . biogenesis? Is proof of evolution. While asexual reproduction does not lead to speciation unless there are replication errors, environmental factors or random mututation, diamorphic sexual reproduction is a key driver of speciation as the process involves literally combining disparate genetic material to form a new organism. And the second law of thermodynamics? As in in all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state? Entropy does not conflict with biology. Self-organizing behavior is just as natural a phenomenon as entropy itself. Entropy is simply a measure of disorder within a system. Living cells are not disordered and thus have low entropy. The flow of energy into that system maintains order and life. Entropy wins when organisms cease to take in energy and cease to be orderly – i.e. “they get old and die”. That is the ultimate disorder in biological systems. Dead things have high entropy.

    Again, you should not use words you don’t actually understand. Like “science”, “evolution”, “biogenesis” or “entropy” (even if you do call it the 2nd Law). So far by doing so you’ve demonstrated nothing other than you argue from ignorance when it comes to both biology and physics.

    You’re free to engage in all the magical thinking you wish.

    I’m free to point out its magical thinking, i.e. irrational gibberish based in faulty logic, faulty definitions and a lack of evidence.


    • “However, I do know some Christians who have no problem in reconciling the facts of science – including evolution – to their faith.”


      Do you think Drew considers the Roman Catholic Church, one billion strong, as Christians? They accept Evolution.

  14. God created neutron stars because he was frustrated and bored with humanity continually dissapointing him. He needed a bit of a diversion; and because he could being omnipotent and all.

    And God said “For thou hast so dissapointed me with such petty bickerings, and trivialities of no consequence, I have thus forth created a star the mass of your sun, and only 60,000 cubits around. It spins at 20% of my divine light speed and has gravity a billion times stronger. And thou thinkest thine Earth has problems. Go forth, but don’t multiply.”

    • “And God said “For thou hast so dissappointed me with such petty bickerings, and trivialities of no consequence, I have thus forth created a star the mass of your sun, and only 60,000 cubits around. It spins at 20% of my divine light speed and has gravity a billion times stronger. And thou thinkest thine Earth has problems. Go forth, but don’t multiply.”


      We all knew from your first time commenting on the blog that you were a man of intelligence, with a distinct, refreshing point of view. Of late though you’ve also disclosed a wicked with that is fast putting you into fierce competition with Pete as funniest man on the blog. 🙂

  15. “There is truly a distinction between valid science and false or pseudo science.”

    And apparently you don’t know it if you think evolution is pseudo-science but creationism isn’t. You apparently have no issue using words you don’t understand either. The rest of what you say is gibberish, but especially this gem: “Science is provable, verifiable, and repeatable and not constantly evolving and being changed when a old part of the theory is shown to be false.”

    Science is constantly changing as new information come available. The body of science knowledge is a continuum, not static. If it wasn’t, people would still think illnesses are caused by humours of the body being imbalanced or demon possession instead of using the bacterial and viral models of illness, Einstein wouldn’t have stood Newton on his ear, and we’d have no clue about molecular genetics which – by the way – confirms Darwin’s work in formulating natural selection as the prime mechanism that drives adaptive evolution.

    Also, you can perform radiographic dating on materials other than carbon. It is a very accurate process within limits as radioactive decay happens at constant rates.

    And you shouldn’t discuss physics you don’t understand. The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics pioneered by Hugh Everett in no way puts the big bang “in jeopardy”. Other discoveries in physics call the details into question, namely whether or not it is a cyclical phenomena or not, but the mapping of cosmic background radiation and other astronomical observations confirm the basic principle: that the universe started from a singularity. Careful with that word singularity though. It probably doesn’t mean what you think it means.

    Learn to use paragraphs, too. Apparently learning grammar and style in composition is as missing from your folio as actual science literacy.

    Evolution is science fact. It is science fact regardless of your personal approval or denial. If anything needs to be “kept at home”, it’s the religious gibberish that is creationism. And that is what is at issue here: a public school propagating religious dogma under the guise of science in contravention of the Establishment clause.

    Your claim that evolution is also religious dogma best left out of schools is nonsense.

    • Wow! You didn’t even answer any of the real questions regarding evolution and why it is flawed and constantly having to be revised. Instead you attack the person, my sincerest apologies I was unaware I was back in school and in need of grammar lessons……..

      Yes science changes when it is proved wrong, that actually backs up my argument, Newton vs Einstein. And yet evolution doctrines which have been proved wrong still continue to be taught for years afterwards. The last 60 years worth of texts books demonstrate that. But please by all means keep giving yourself enough rope…….. Science changes when something believed to be true is revealed to be false. But somehow evolution still holds credibility as a science despite these overwhelming pile-ons of proof in its inaccuracies and racist propaganda…. But please by all means avoid all those issues…..

      Oh yes dismiss me for adding, in a a very way, the modern overarching themes of modern evolutionary debate and not getting down to the nitty-gritty which would take an age to go through properly. But I am glad by merely mentioning it you at least are aware of some of the latest explorations in these areas, pat on the back and good for!

      I am not trying to tear you away from your belief in atheism and or evolution, I am merely pointing out that “superiorist” thinking about a theory which is not a science but peddled as such despite having many of its major starting points not only placed in jeopardy throughout the course of the last 100 years but even flat out proven wrong makes for a very dangerous world.

      The discipline of science as a whole changes, but when certain ideas that have been accepted as fact are proved wrong the theory is debunked but somehow not so with evolution. That reminds me of that old catholic religions saying, “give me a child at the age of 7 and I will give you a catholic for life” Well I guess the atheist/evolutionary doctrine has worked just as well over the last 60+ years in the schools, “give me a child at the age of 7 and I will give you an evolutionist for life!” Congratulations you should be very proud you were well indoctrinated as a child, so I guess that all that is left to say (its Latin by the way)

      Frui stellato

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