Arkansas Public School's Promotion Of Religion Violates Constitution

Church-State Watchdog Group Challenges Special Building Addition For Fellowship Of Christian Athletes

A public school in Arkansas violated the U.S. Constitution by arranging construction of a special meeting room for a Christian student group, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

School officials at Fountain Lake High School in Hot Springs, Ark., refer to the room, built for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as the “FCA room.” The space was constructed as an addition to the school’s football complex; it contains a plaque that displays a cross and the words “Fellowship of Christian Athletes Meets Here!”

According to an article in the Hot Springs Village Voice, the addition was paid for with private funds, but school officials came up with the idea and were candid about the room’s religious purpose.

Assistant Coach Andi Kinsinger told the newspaper, “Fellowship of Christian Athletes has impacted many people for over 50 years through the influence of athletes and coaches, and we want to share those experiences with the students at Fountain Lake.

“This new building will make a statement and hopefully change the lives of many for His Glory,” Kinsinger continued. “FCA camp is where I came to know Christ; it provides a lot of opportunity for all.”

In a letter sent today to the school’s superintendent and principal, Americans United demanded that the school remove the FCA plaque, ensure that the room is shared equally by all student groups and refrain from referring to the room as the “FCA room.”

“This is a public school, not a Sunday school,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “Public schools must welcome children of all faiths and none.

“The school’s actions are patently unconstitutional,” he continued. “It is wrong for school officials to meddle in religious matters.”

Americans United’s letter was drafted by AU Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan, Senior Litigation Counsel Alex J. Luchenitser and Staff Attorney Ian Smith.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.