Humanist association may sue District 281 after church trips


Robbinsdale Area Schools’ School of Engineering and Arts has been asked to stop school-sponsored trips to Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley by the Washington, D.C.-based American Humanist Association after a parent notified them of the practice.

On Jan. 29 and roughly the same date as during the 2012-13 school year, SEA students went to Calvary to pack boxes of food for Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit. The food boxes were sent to Haiti as part of a hunger relief effort.

Both the church and the organization propagated a religious message, said association attorney Monica Miller. She argues that the school, by having a field trip during school hours to facilitate the goals of a religious organization has, itself, sponsored a religious message as well.


I read the article, I don’t see anything wrong with what the school did. From the article it’s rather clear the school set up alternatives for the students who didn’t/couldn’t go and that the church personnel did their best to “sanitize” the area the event took place in. The main objection seems to be that the students knew the event was being conducted at a church and the church had a big cross out front.


First of all :- Pardon my ignorance!
I’m obviously not American but going by a lot that’s posted on this forum you guys go BIG on your Constitutional Amendmens. So… have the Humanists got a point under the 1st Amendment? BTW Don’t shoot the messenger (perhaps that would be covered by the 2nd Amendment) lol. Seriously though. What’s the correct interpretation?


It depends on how you interpret the 1st Amendment. By my interpretation this doesn’t count as a violation of anyone’s 1st Amendment rights. The church and it’s personnel did everything in their power to make this a non-religious event. My opinion would be different had the church-
-made the students pray prior to working
-had people specifically talking about religion
-did anything to actually promote their faith
-the event was for a religious (like putting together bundles of bibles and religious material for the people in Haiti) reason

From the article the only “promotion” (quotes because it’s clear from the article no promotion actually took place) that took place was that a)the building the event took place at was a church and b)the people putting on the event were religious.


What I always find funny about these cases is if it’s about principle, notice how it’s always Christians who are targeted----never Jews and certainly not Muslims. Think the public schools in NYC or Dearborn, Michigan, which has a huge Muslim population, are totally free of any religious influence?

Do they have a case? Well, it seems like the American courts are willing to entertain anything and everything when something Christian offends someone or causes a hurt feeling or two. So I’d say they do have a case.


The key issue is likely to be whether similar non-Christian charity groups have the same access to the student population.

For example, the Gideons distributing Bibles in public schools is not a problem, PROVIDED that other groups are allowed to distribute their literature as well. As an extreme example, putting a giant cross on public display is not a problem, PROVIDED that satanists can put up their statue as well.


She argues that the school, by having a field trip during school hours** to facilitate the goals of a religious organization has**, itself, sponsored a religious message as well.

She’s off her rocker. Following that train of thought, anyone (even the government) who wants to help the poor or feed the hungry is “sponsoring” a religious message. :mad:


What wasn’t clear was whether a religious message was being sent along with the food. If a Christian flyer was included with the meals, or if the packaging promoted Christianity, then the participation by the school would be objectionable.

A Google Images search reveals multiple photos of the boxes and the food packages. None of them show a Christian identity. However, the food packages are labelled as MannaPack, which is the trademarked brand name. That name is one of the two objections mentioned by the Humanist organization in their letter of complaint.

Indeed, the religious mission underlying the charity work in question was out in the open in this situation, but your school embraced the event anyway. The packages involved were called “manna” packages, after the edible substance that, according to the Bible, God provided for the Israelites; and the venue involved included extensive religious imagery and symbolism

The letter of complaint does not mention any Christian promotional literature being included along with the food. If there was any, surely it would have been mentioned.


So now the first amendment bans public participation with religious groups even if the goal of the participation isn’t an overtly religious one? That’s a major departure from past policy.

To any sane observer, the major goal of Feed My Starving Children is providing the food to people who need it. The fact that the group sponsoring the work is explicitly motivated has not prevented public participation in the past! Until the gay activists found a way to kill it, Catholic Charities has historically contracted with the state to place wards of the state with adoptive parents. Catholic Charities has never hidden its motivation as having come from the teachings of Christ to care for the needy, but that wasn’t a hindrance from the state funding them to conduct those activities.

Everybody ought to read the constitution from time to time. Once you do, it becomes glaringly obvious how jaded the people are who are constantly trying to change it’s definitions on us. It’s not that complicated!


I suspect that most moderate secular humanists are also annoyed by this lawsuit. It does way more to hurt their cause than help it. Sure, it ensures that the letter of the law is upheld, but it makes secular humanists look like they’re mean spirited, childish and petty. Surely they have more important things to worry about than sending food to the homeless.


I read the letter of complaint. Yeah, someone did their best to create an argument to justify their “outrage.” Misidentify the packages as “manna” packages instead MannaPacks ™ and include photos of the church holding services instead of photos of the rooms the students actually went to. This is no more a legit case than a Christian soldier suing due to having to eat an MRE that qualifies as kosher or halal.


raises hand

Yeah, I’m there.

I mean, I get it; it’s a public school having kids help a religious organization in a religious setting, but it sounds like they did their best to tone down the religious stuff when the kids were there. And if it’s true that kids could opt out, it’s even less of an issue.

Even if this does fall into a “letter of the law” kind of thing, this is not a battle worth fighting. I mean, the name of the organization talks about feeding starving children! There’s no way to do this without looking bad. It’s almost as bad as when American Atheists and the FFRF went after a proposed Holocaust memorial because it had a Star of David on it.


Ok lets shine some light on this subject. In MN all children who participate in a field trip must have a signed permission slip. This isn’t just a general wavier to take the children off of school property, the specific event and place is listed, as well as any specific liability.

So if they are going to take kids to the zoo, they state which zoo. If they take kids to Valley Fair (the major amusement park in the area) they state that, and that there are specific physical restrictions. Thus, they stated that they were going to a Church and what the activity they were going to do. If a parent does not like that, they can not sign the permission slip. They will provide something else for the child to do instead of attend the field trip.

When I was in Highschool, in MN, I took an elective humanities class in 10th grade. As part of the class we took a field trip to the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Basilica of Saint Mary’s to observe “architecture and art.” (We also went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art). Or course this particular trip just happened to fall on Ash Wednesday…
But if a parent didn’t want their child attending, all they had to do was not sign the permission slip and the child could stay at school and go to their other classes, and go to study hall or the library during that class period. :shrug: We also sang religious music :eek: in choir. Nobody is being forced to participate or being graded on attending religious events.


Apparently common sense no longer applies to these things. All we really need to do to see a real case and a fake one is to compare this one (fake) to the one from Louisiana (real, I think it had threads a week ago or so).


The school is for grades K to 5. The church is exactly one mile, by bus, from the school.

These things might explain why the school doesn’t use other charities, which are likely much farther away


It’s interesting how our God is the one who gets all the attention even from those who say they don’t believe in him.


Yes. They would do better to channel their energy and money into charitable aid projects instead of whining about other people doing it. And trying to prevent other people doing it. :rolleyes: Seems to be a case of sour grapes.


Let’s go with that thought. What are the chances that secular humanists could get their local public school to officially sponsor a field trip during school hours so that the kids can fill food cartons that are labeled “Secular Humanists Are Good Without God”? If you think the chances are slim to none, then maybe you can appreciate why this is an issue.


Slim to none due to the school officials not wanting to help said charity, or slim to none because such a charity doesn’t exist?


I agree.

People complain when Christians don’t act like Christians and complain when Christians to act like Christians. :confused: Maybe that’s what worried them, the kids had a chance to see Christianity in action.

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