My summer internship at the American Humanist Association is sadly coming to a close, and the last two weeks have been interesting, to say the least.
On August 12 the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, the legal arm of the American Humanist Association, sent a letter to school officials at Hall County School District and Chestatee High School in Gainesville, Georgia, on behalf of a concerned citizen objecting to the infusion of religious prayer into the high school football program. Team prayers were repeatedly being led by the football coaching staff, and team documents had biblical passages and references to biblical scripture. Additionally, many of the team banners were decorated with Bible passages, clearly endorsing Christianity above any and all other religious traditions.
This case seems fairly clear cut. Past court cases have ruled that teachers, coaches, or any other public school administrator cannot lead students in prayer. Unfortunately, the law isn’t so obvious to most people in Gainesville (and perhaps other people across the country who heard about the case).
An infographic released by the American Humanist Association this summer revealed the discrimination nonbelievers face in their everyday lives: thirteen countries have laws that revoke citizenship of atheists, denytheir right to marry, and even excuse their murder; 53 percent of Americans are least likely to vote for an atheist for president; and 49 percent of Americans would be unhappy if a family member married an atheist.
Here are some of the Facebook messages we received in response to our letter:
And some lovely little emails (complete with grammar errors):
AHA, go [expletive deleted] yourselves. You have no business injecting your beliefs on Gainesville, GA, and apparently have little knowledge of the history and implications of the Constitution’s separation of church and state, which is to keep the state out of the church, NOT vice versa. Have fun in hell when you all die.
How human of you all to demand the rights of humans to express their faith through prayer. I suppose its OK for the Georgia high school students/staff to promote vampires, death, horror and terrorism….but God forbid they pray to a God that represents love and peace. Your organization is a joke. Our country’s downward spiral away from God is a denial of our Christian beginnings and the blessings our country has had for over 200 years. Now its an atheist country plagued by mediocrity and evil. Good job turning our country i nto a cess pool AHA.
And somewhere in there was a “priority” voicemail with a man speaking completely in tongues (you’ll need to turn your speakers up for this gem):
So, thank you, Gainesville, for helping to make my time here at the AHA memorable! I’ll never forget the hateful threats I received from a group of people claiming to “turn the other cheek.” Keep ‘em coming! Keep reminding me and others that we have something to fight for: religious and non-religious freedom.