The Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin removed a cross on the first floor conference room wall of the Highway Patrol Headquarters, after a concerned employee filed a complaint with FFRF. This location is where most regular meetings take place.
FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a letter on July 8, informing the DPS that this large cross is unquestionably a religious symbol and sends the unmistakable message that the department endorses Christianity over all other religions and religion over non religion.
“The Latin cross in the DPS Highway Patrol Division’s conference room sends a divisive message that turns non-Christian and nonreligious employees into outsiders in their own community and workplace.”
On August 11, after initially attempting to justify this display as nonreligious, the Department informed FFRF that it would remove the illegal cross.
Hawkins Middle School in Hawkins, Texas, will no longer permit a teacher to organize and promote a “Feed and Seed” club. A concerned parent contacted FFRF, reporting that a teacher ran the club during lunch period. The teacher read from the bible and invited local religious leaders to speak to students. Parents were not informed by the school that their children were participating in this religious club. Additionally, the teacher repeatedly read religious materials on Good Friday during instructional classtime.
FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a letter to the district on June 4, explaining that the heavy involvement of faculty in a religious club is impermissible and illegal. Grover also noted why religious statements in the classroom are unconstitutional:
“Allowing a public school teacher to read religiously themed materials with no pedagogical purpose, such as ‘The Tale of Three Trees,’ to a sixth-grade class on Good Friday in an attempt to proselytize the teacher’s personal religious views shows the District’s endorsement of religion.”
On Aug. 5, the superintendent replied that regulations and practices regarding extracurricular and co-curricular clubs were reviewed, as well as instructional material in the classroom.
The district stated: “We are working to make certain that the Hawkins ISD complies with all applicable laws, including the First Amendment’s prohibition concerning the endorsement of religion.” The school noted that if the Feed and Seed club returns as a strictly student-led club, the teacher involved in the abuses will not be approved as faculty supervisor.
“I had nearly forgotten how death plays out over time — not the biological episode that collapses it all into a nanosecond of being and nonbeing, but the slower arc of our leaving — sorting through the mail, paying the bills, stumbling upon notes. . . Have I no more than these solicitations, the invitations, these letters delivered late? I do. I have memories. I have places where I feel both his closeness and his distance. And I have the all-too-brief visitations allowed in dreams. For the nonbeliever I’ve become, it is what passes for an afterlife.”
“As an atheist, I'd skip the prayer and go straight to the colonel, who is arguably the god of affordable, bucket housed fried chicken bits.”
“I'm not religious! I don't know if there's a God, but that's all I can say, honestly, is I don't know!”