Minnesota school takes flak for charitable field trip to church

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A Washington, D.C.-based group took issue with a school trip to a Golden Valley church where students did volunteer work for charity, the Star Tribune reports.

Teachers took elementary school students from the Robbinsdale district's School of Engineering and Arts to help out at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, as part of a program coordinated by Feed My Starving Children, a Christian initiative to reduce world hunger.

In the church basement, students helped pack meals for needy families in Haiti, the Star Tribune reports.

At least one parent objected and contacted the American Humanist Association, which fired off a letter to Principal Kim Hiel and district director of academics Lori Simon, calling the trip a serious violation of the Constitution, which calls for separation of church and state.

The letter notes that well-intentioned projects aimed at feeding the hungry can be done in other ways, and away from "theologically-charged environments" like churches.

A district spokeswoman told the Star Tribune that there was no proselytizing during the field trip, and district officials do not believe the trip violated the law.

A similar church-and-state issue surfaced recently in Burnsville, where a pastor who serves two churches in Minneapolis was fired from his school bus driving route after leading students on the bus in prayer.

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