Florey v. Sioux Falls School: Atheist Files Suit Against School Holiday Programs Hot

Florey v. Sioux Falls School: Atheist Files Suit Against School Holiday Programs

Florey v. Sioux Falls School District

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Argued: Florey v. Sioux Falls School District — Roger Florey, an atheist, filed suit against a local school district's holiday programs, claiming that singing of religious carols during Christmas concerts, like "Silent Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," were a violation of the separation of church and state.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will rule that the original Christmas programs violated the separation of church and state, but more recent revised programs under new policies were constitutional, even with the inclusion of Christian Christmas carols like "Silent Night" and "O Come All Ye Faithful."

The majority opinion says:

"The First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools; it is the advancement or inhibition of religion that is prohibited. ...

Hence, the study of religion is not forbidden "when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education."...

We view the term "study" to include more than mere classroom instruction; public performance may be a legitimate part of secular study. This does not mean, of course, that religious ceremonies can be performed in the public schools under the guise of "study."

It does mean, however, that when the primary purpose served by a given school activity is secular, that activity is not made unconstitutional by the inclusion of some religious content."

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