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Bible study canceled after group claims doughnuts enticed attendance

A school district in Missouri has suspended a Bible study class at a middle school after receiving complaints that students who attended were provided free doughnuts by school officials and clergy.

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The legal team from the American Humanist Association wrote a nine-page letter to the Joplin school district in December, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

The Bible study took place during breakfast on Thursdays.

In a news release Monday, the association announced it had been informed the district halted the program — as well as similar Bible studies at other schools — because they did not comply with a district policy, updated in March, that only permits student-led initiatives for students in grades 9-12.

The News-Leader quoted a statement from the district that acknowledged that staff members were unaware of the policy update and "its implication for this activity."

"As a result, we have suspended the Bible study as it is currently organized," district officials wrote in the statement. "Community groups that wish to host activities such as this, or other types of events or activities, at our schools may do so by complying with our facilities use policy."

In the December letter, the American Humanist Association alleged the school employees and community clergy involved in the Bible study used the doughnuts "essentially as a bribe to get children in the door."

“We are pleased that the program has stopped, but disappointed that the district, perhaps in an attempt to save face, has falsely described the program as lawful. In fact, the program was very much adult-led and clearly unconstitutional,” David Niose, legal director of the association, said in a release. "Nevertheless, the important outcome is that the school will no longer be promoting Christianity and luring children to Christian meetings with promises of special treats."

Success! Since receiving our complaint, the Joplin school district has suspended their school Bible study that used doughnuts to entice students to join.

Posted by American Humanist Association on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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