Ron Wilson, the superintendent of the Ionia Public Schools in Michigan, is the guy who recently wrote in a local newspaper that the “growth of atheistic and secular humanist influence in our society appears to be eroding the fabric of our nation.”
You won’t be surprised to learn, then, that his district has been promoting religion.
According to a letter sent to him by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of a local family, the Ionia Public Schools has “organized and promoted a baccalaureate ceremony for graduating Ionia High School seniors on District property and at District expense.”
Baccalaureate services are alternative graduations with a religious backdrop. They’re legal as long as they’re done by outside groups, without any support from the District itself. In this case, IPS has been using its resources to effectively conduct a church service.
What resources are we talking about? FFRF says the event was held at Ionia Middle School “without any payment or rental fee.” A District employee reserved the space using her school account. Another employee was the point of contact for the event. The District also published the programs, promoted the service on its website, and provided logistical support the day of the event.
All of these things are illegal. Most public school officials know this. Ron Wilson is oblivious to all of it.
FFRF legal fellow Colin E. McNamara is calling for a public dissociation from the event:
The school’s extensive role in all aspects of the baccalaureate ceremony would cause any reasonable graduating senior or parent to conclude that the District endorses the religious messages espoused at these services. To avoid the perception of school sponsorship of religious practices, the District must immediately end all involvement With the baccalaureate. This means that no public school employees can be involved in organizing, advertising or running the baccalaureate service. The District should publicly dissociate itself from that event and remind its employees that they cannot organize such an event.
Who could have ever guessed that a guy accusing atheists of ruining the country would be the one guilty of breaking the law…? (Besides everyone, I mean.)
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Mitch for the link)