September 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

A federal court found the Rankin County, Miss., school district in contempt of court for refusing to obey an order prohibiting it from official endorsements of Christianity.

The school district previously lost a suit filed by a student over its practice of sponsoring religious school assemblies. At the time, it was ordered to immediately stop promoting religion. Six months later, the same student attended a school honors assembly where a local Metho­dist pastor delivered a prayer. The district also allowed the Gideons to hand out Bibles to students during the school day. 

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ordered the district to pay $2,500 to the student for violating the previous court order.

“The district’s breach did not take very long and it occurred in a very bold way,” Reeves wrote. “Its conduct displays that the district did not make any effort to adhere to the agreed judgment.”

In response, the school district claimed it did not understand the law. Rankin County school superintendent Lynn Weatherby said in a statement that the school district would attempt to follow the law “to the best of our ability.”

The American Humanist Association, which represented the student, applauded the ruling.