"Unconstitutional." That's the word the American Humanist Association's Appignani Humanist Legal Center used to describe what a band of Minnesota school children are doing. The "unconstitutional" act these children are allegedly committing is going on field trips to a local church to help prepare food for the less fortunate.
The AHA, true to form, sent a letter to the School of Engineering and Arts in Golden Valley, Minn. stating that the educators there had been sending the elementary school children on trips to Calvary Lutheran Church. The children had been lending a helping hand to Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization who takes on the task of feeding their local poor.
The humanist group says they were contacted by a student's family who complained of having their child exposed to the "First Amendment Violation."
On February 3, the firm sent a letter to the school's principal, Kim Hiel, as well as the executive director of academics, Lori Simon, stating that sending the students to the church was "such an obvious violation that parental complaint should not be necessary" for the local administrators to sit up and take notice. It also claimed the family is said to have voiced their concerns before, but to no avail.
The group further communicated that what the school was attempting to do was admirable, but the venue for those valiant efforts was inappropriate.
"Very importantly, we fully understand that at least one purpose of this field trip was to have the children participate in charity work intended to assist poverty-stricken people," stated the AHA. "Such good intentions, however, can be pursued in innumerable other ways that do not involve immersing the unsuspecting children into a theologically-charged environment."
On the school's Facebook Page, there was a picture of the school kids packaging the meals for Feed My Starving Children with this caption: "Kathryn, SEA 4th Grader, and Nathan, former SEA student, spent the past two days not making forts or Rube Goldbergs, rather they spent it in service creating meals with Feed My Starving Children!" Unfortunately, the photo seems to be missing. There is, however, also a video posted by FMSC.
Appignani Humanist Legal Center attorney, Monica Miller, is convinced that the school's actions violate the nation's' Constitution. "For public school administrators to send students to a religious environment to work on a religious mission with a religious organization is unconstitutional," Miller said in a recent press release. "This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state."
The legal center has asked that the School of Engineering and Arts officials reply to their letter within two weeks, yet it is not clear how the school will react.
The act of the children feeding the homeless, although housed in a church, had no other motive to it, no other religious association accept, compassion which is not typically classified as religious or secular. The children were not asked to participate in any services, prayer meetings, or classes pertaining to the faith as many are now in other schools on their field trips to mosques and the like. We'll just have to wait and see the outcome of the matter.