Christian-based mentoring program in 7 schools suspended after atheist group's complaint

Officials of a school district in Beaufort County, South Carolina, have indefinitely suspended a Christian-based mentoring program for students in seven of its schools after an atheist group questioned its existence in public educational institutions.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / TomahawkBRAWL)Beaufort County Courthouse, Beaufort, SC. 6 May 2016.

The volunteer group Real Champions of the Lowcountry had been mentoring students at Okatie Elementary, Bluffton Elementary, Michael C. Riley Elementary, Pritchardville Elementary, Red Cedar Elementary, Bluffton Middle, and H.E. McCracken Middle School for roughly 10 years. However, the Beaufort County School District suspended the group after Wisconsin-based organization Freedom From Religion Foundation complained about it on Oct. 31, The Island Packet detailed.

In a letter to FFRF on Nov. 16, school district lawyer Drew Davis informed the atheist group that the Christian mentoring group had been suspended as of Nov. 15. The officials came to the decision after conducting an investigation and meeting with school officials and representatives from the Real Champions.

FFRF senior counsel Patrick Elliott said the Real Champions was an unconstitutional program because the mentor application clearly stated that they were "Christ-centered." However, the district seems to want the reinstatement of the group and is set to meet again with representatives of the Christian program.

In Texas, FFRF targeted the LaPoynor School District because of a Christian flag flying from the main flag pole of the LaPoynor High School. In response to the complaints, the students defiantly took down the flag in question and placed it in front of the campus, East Texas Matters reported.

Aside from that, the students also put up two more Christian flags outside of the campus. Other pupils have taken their cue from the defiant move and started flying them on their personal trucks.

FFRF claimed that the LaPoynor students were trying to intimidate the organization. However, the pupils explained that they were merely standing up for their faith.