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Back to school worship service in DeKalb Co. will not be cancelled

The Freedom From Religion Foundation told the school district it's illegal to post about the service on the school's Facebook page. The superintendent disagrees.

Posted: Aug 2, 2019 6:28 PM
Updated: Aug 2, 2019 6:35 PM

A back-to-school worship service will go on as planned in DeKalb county.

That service is at Fyffe High School on Sunday. It's getting national attention after the Freedom From Religion Foundation told the district it's illegal to post about the service, on the school's Facebook page.

"I do not think we broke the law," Superintendent Jason Barnett said.

The DeKalb County School superintendent says the district will respond to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's letter soon. In that letter, the organization threatened to file a lawsuit if Fyffe High School didn't stop promoting the event on its Facebook page.

"That event was approved in a consistent matter with how other events have been approved for other organizations in the past," Barnett said.

The event itself is not breaking the law. That's because several churches have paid to rent out the high school gym. Also, no teachers and staff helped organize the service.

But, Freedom From Religion Foundation says the school's post on Facebook does break the law.

"The thing that we are really worried about is what it looks like as in this case where the school is posting about it in Facebook, where it appears that this is a school event and that the school itself is endorsing religion. That's where the constitutional violation occurs," Freedom From Religion Attorney Chris Line explained..

WAAY 31 reached out to an attorney who says the post could be crossing the line since schools cannot promote or endorse any religion. But, there are no set rules or laws, and these cases are usually dealt with on an individual basis.

Barnett says the post was simply to inform the community of the event.

"Schools are the center of the hub, especially in DeKalb county. Often times, schools provide information. Provide general information about things that impact our local community. Not necessarily in promotion of, but just provide general information about events and ongoing things that happen within the community," Barnett said.

Event organizers agree.

"People share things on Facebook that maybe they are not necessarily endorsing. Just a sharing and a letting you know this is taking place in our community. I feel like it was more of an announcement," Pastor Jon Mayes said.

The school district says it will provide us with a copy of its response to the freedom from religion foundation, once it submits it. We'll let you know when we get that letter.

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