A Mississippi public school district has been fined $7,500 after a minister prayed during a district-wide honors assembly.
The U.S. Federal District Court said the Rankin County School District violated a 2013 court settlement that ordered the district to stop “proselytizing Christianity.”
Under the order, the Rankin County School District must now pay a student plaintiff $2,500 for the prayer and another $5,000 because the school district allowed Gideons International to pass out Bibles to fifth graders in October 2014.
The assembly was held in May 2014 at Brandon High School and opened with a prayer by Rev. Rob Gill. The assembly was not mandatory to attend, but honored all of the district’s students who earned higher than a 22 on their ACT tests.
But the conflict started in 2013, when the same student took the school district to court because he was forced to attend assemblies that promoted Christianity. The school district settled with the student and paid his legal fees, The Christian Post reports.
The judge ordered the district to stop “proselytizing Christianity.”
"The district's breach did not take very long and it occurred in a very bold way," Reeves wrote in his judgement. "Its conduct displays that the district did not make any effort to adhere to the agreed judgment.
"It deliberately went out of its way to entangle Christian indoctrination in the education process," the judge said. "From the accounts detailed in the record, it appears that incorporating religious script and prayers with school activities has been a long-standing tradition of the district."
Publication date: July 22, 2015