Anderson v. Chesterfield County School District
What's at Stake
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Carolina have filed a lawsuit challenging a pervasive practice of school-sponsored prayer, preaching and religious activities in the Chesterfield County School District. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a student and his father (both non-believers) who have been ostracized for their objection to repeated official religious events and activities at New Heights Middle School.
In September, students at New Heights were compelled to attend an in-school worship rally that featured a sermon delivered by a Christian minister and the Christian rapper known as “B-SHOC” who performs songs like “Jesus Lean,” “Crazy Bout God” and “Christ-Like Cruisin.” Students were encouraged to pray and sign a pledge dedicating themselves to Jesus. Students who opted not to attend were forced to go to an in-school detention room instead. The assembly seems to be part of a larger trend throughout the district in which teachers and staff routinely incorporate prayer and proselytizing into school events, and have criticized and harassed students who do not claim to be Christians.
Many in-school assemblies, choral concerts and sporting events at Chesterfield County schools open with a school-sponsored prayer. Staff has also improperly organized and encouraged students to attend religious events and organizations that meet on campus.
Status: Settlement Reached