Christian "Revival" at High School Sparks Student Protest for Secularism

On Wednesday, February 9, more than a hundred students walked out during their homeroom period at West Virginia’s Huntington High School. The students were protesting a Christian revival assembly where some students were obliged to attend by their teachers.

The students chanted "separate the church and state" and "my faith, my choice” during the walkout.

Max Nibert, a senior at the public high school and one of the walkout participants, said that religious officials should not be "hosted in a taxpayer-funded building with the express purpose of trying to convince minors to become baptized after school hours."

Aside from chanting their agenda, Nibert held a sign that said, "My rights are non-negotiable."

Jedd Flowers, a spokesperson for the Cabell County Schools which includes Huntington High School, said the event was supposed to be voluntary. A couple of teachers allegedly thought the event was compulsory.

Bethany Felinton, a parent of one of the students, said her Jewish son was forced to attend the entire assembly. Felinton added that her son tried asking permission to leave but was told he couldn't go because the classrooms were locked.

"It's a completely unfair and unacceptable situation to put a teenager in," Felinton added.

A 16-year old student, Cameron Mays, said they were told to go to the school's auditorium for a Christian revival assembly. Mays said they were told to close their eyes and raise their arms in prayers when they arrived at the auditorium. They were also told that they could find purpose and salvation through Jesus.

The students were also told that those who do not follow the Bible would go to hell, Mays added. He then sent a message to his father asking, "Is this legal?"

According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a nonprofit that advocates for the separation of church and state, sent a letter to Cabell County Schools district. "It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the District to offer religious leaders unique access to preach and proselytize students during school hours on school property," the letter said.

The foundation also reminded the school district that it should not allow "its schools to be used as recruiting grounds for churches."

American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, including parents and other organizations, also concluded that schools' voluntary or compulsory religious services should not be allowed. These activities are a violation of students' civil rights, the group said.

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