Feeding Starving Children Violates the First Amendment? Really?

By Matt Sharp

I get that atheists think religion is bad. Really, I do. As the American Humanist Association’s website says, they aspire for a society “free of belief in any gods and other supernatural forces.” So when they complain about a town’s long-standing tradition of opening its meetings with prayer, or a Ten Commandments display on public property—both of which are constitutional—it doesn’t surprise me.

But sometimes, these groups do something that truly shocks me. Last week, the AHA sent a demand letter to Robbinsdale Area Schools, located outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul, complaining that students from the School of Engineering and Arts were packing food to send to impoverished people in Haiti. AHA claimed that because the students went to a local church to prepare aid packages, the school was violating the so-called “church-state separation.”

Really, atheists?! Do you really think that when our Founding Fathers were drafting the Bill of Rights, they were worried about school children working with a local church to send food to underprivileged people? I can hear James Madison and Thomas Jefferson debating now:

James Madison: “Tom, do you really think we need this language in the First Amendment about Congress making no law respecting an establishment of religion?”

Thomas Jefferson: “Absolutely, Jim. Otherwise, one day, hundreds of years in the future, school children in Minnesota may work with a religious charity to send food to poor people around the world. We can’t have our citizens—both religious and non-religious—actually cooperating to help others.”

Since stopping such “alleged” constitutional violations seems so important to the AHA, the obvious question is, what’s next?

  • There is a Christian animal rescue center in the Philadelphia area. Will AHA investigate to ensure that children from a local school don’t collect dog food to help these homeless and abused animals?
  • A Christian charity in Minnesota knits clothing and blankets for infants in need. Will AHA threaten schools that allow students to donate yarn to use in making these essential items to keep babies warm during the cold winter months?
  • A public school in South Carolina worked with Operation Christmas Child, a religious organization, to put together gift boxes for impoverished children through the world…Oh wait, AHA already complained about this one too.

Our Founding Fathers never intended to prevent cooperation between government and religious groups. And that is why our courts have consistently permitted such cooperation when it serves a valid educational purpose—like teaching students the importance of community service.

Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to Robbinsdale Area School encouraging them to stand firm against AHA’s demands to discontinue this educationally valuable activity. And we will continue to protect the freedom for schools, community groups, and churches to work together to make our world a better place.

What do you think about the AHA’s complaint? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Author: Alliance Defending Freedom