News & Features

Church Camp Fliers in Park County Schools Prompts Complaint

Appagani Humanist Legal Center say district is promoting religion in public schools by allowing the distribution of the fliers

LIVINGSTON — A secular organization has sent a protest letter to the Park County School District over fliers handed out in Livingston schools for a church-sponsored camp called “Connecting Kids with God’s Great Outdoors.”

The Appagani Humanist Legal Center said in the letter the Park County School District is promoting religion in public schools by allowing the distribution of the fliers. The legal center, which is part of the Washington, D.C.-based American Humanist Association, sent the complaint after learning of the flier from a concerned citizen, legal director David Niose said.

The fliers for the Oct. 11 program sponsored by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church were passed out at Washington and Winans elementary schools, the Livingston Enterprise reported.

The organization’s letter said school district employees unfairly promoted the church, whose religion may run counter to the beliefs of the children’s families.

Kids don’t understand the meaning behind the event but know their friends are going, and it creates problems for families when they ask their parents for permission to go, Niose said.

St. Paul’s pastor Fred Berger says the intention is to provide an educational event, not to push the church’s beliefs.

“As far as our registration sheets in the school, they simply give parents, not a mandate, but an opportunity to send their children, if they choose, to a wholesome event on the weekend in which they will learn some fun and important life skills,” Berger said.

Superintendent Rich Moore said the school district’s administration and attorney will review whether the distribution of the fliers was inappropriate.

“In our close community, we have many organizations that offer activities that benefit our students. When these activities are of benefit to our students and are secular in nature and do not offer an unfair promotion of that business or organization, we allow fliers to be passed,” Moore said.

The organization said in its letter the school should remove all religious materials from the school, or alternatively, allow the group to provide atheist and humanist literature to the district.