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Planned Religious Lesson Didn’t Go Forward After Complaint, Covington County Schools Say

An elementary school class in South Mississippi did not receive a planned class activity featuring religious content after a national organization warned the Covington County School District that it could violate the separation of church and state.

Officials from the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the district after a Seminary Elementary School parent informed them of a planned first-grade activity that they believed contained religious content. The reported activity was a coloring page of an Easter egg split into six sections where each was assigned a different color with a religious meaning. The assignment was scheduled for March 28, FFRF said. 

In its letter to the district, the organization cited several cases where courts found that public schools may not show favoritism or endorse any particular religion. FFRF is a national organization that says it is focused on protecting the separation of church and state and educating the public about nontheism.  

“Using a religious holiday, Easter, as a pretext to teach religious lessons in a public school is unconstitutional,” FFRF Staff Attorney Madeline Ziegler wrote in a March 27 letter to Covington County School District Superintendent Babette Duty.

Zeigler would not comment on how the parent learned about the planned activity but said that the parent reported “frequently having to counteract religion that their child was fed in school.”

“Many of our complainants are very concerned about the harassment and the backlash that might fall on them if it were to be released,” Ziegler told the Mississippi Free Press on June 26. “So I don’t want to go into any details that they haven’t explicitly said that it was OK to discuss.” 

Freedom From Religion Foundation Staff Attorney Madeline Ziegler requested that the Covington County School District stop a planned assignment with religious content to “ensure that its teachers at Seminary Elementary and all other schools understand their constitutional duty to respect the religious rights of students.” Photo courtesy Freedom From Religion Foundation ” data-medium-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?fit=232%2C300&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?fit=780%2C1010&ssl=1″ tabindex=”0″ role=”button” src=”https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?resize=780%2C1010&ssl=1″ alt class=”wp-image-44154″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?resize=791%2C1024&ssl=1 791w, https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?resize=232%2C300&ssl=1 232w, https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?resize=768%2C994&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?resize=400%2C518&ssl=1 400w, https://i0.wp.com/www.mississippifreepress.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/Covington-County-School-District-MS-Religious-Assignment-1.jpg?w=927&ssl=1

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