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October 24—25  , 2014

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Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

A post office in Richmond, Calif., removed bible verses posted at every employee time clock.

A concerned employee contacted FFRF that a sign quoting 1 Peter 4:15 (“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a ‘busybody’ in other people’s matters”) from the New Testament was posted on the internal bulletin boards. FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell sent a letter to the branch, pointing out that the display directly violates post office regulations:

“Bulletin boards and other posting space in the Post Office lobbies and other public access areas may not be used for posting or display of the following: . . . . Religious symbols or matter including but not limited to nativity scenes and the Star of David.”

“By displaying this bible verse on its postal property, the Richmond post office branch is illegally demonstrating a preference for religion, specifically Christianity,” Cavell wrote.

On Aug. 19, the United States Postal Service responded that the verses were removed. “Employees at the facility will be re-instructed through a Stand-Up Talk regarding the policies related to posting items near time clocks and on internal bulletin boards.”

Religious iconography will no longer adorn the locker room of North Canton Memorial Stadium Complex in Canton, Ohio. A concerned student contacted FFRF to report that a portrait of Jesus appeared near the door leading to the football stadium.

On July 3, FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a warning letter to the Stark County Educational Services Council, requesting an immediate investigation of the illegal religious display at Hoover High School.

Markert stated: “As you may be aware, a similar situation occurred at Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Ohio. A lawsuit brought by FFRF together with the ACLU of Ohio on behalf of a Jackson Middle School student resulted in a settlement for the permanent removal of the portrait of Jesus and a hefty fine including attorney’s fees against Jackson City School District. . . The Supreme Court has stressed the importance of protecting public school students from these types of messages.”

On Aug. 21, the Council responded that the picture of Jesus hanging in the locker room has been removed.

Broome High School students in Glendale, SC., will no longer perform in churches, thanks to action by FFRF.

A concerned member of the community informed FFRF that on May 11 the school chorus sang at the First Baptist Church of Cowpens during the church’s morning worship service.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a letter on May 19 to the superintendent of Spartanburg School District 3, explaining why holding school-sponsored activities in churches, especially during services, is a bad idea from the outset.

“In addition to being surrounded by religious iconography, students were exposed to, and likely became participants in, a Christian worship service. This outcome is entirely inappropriate during a school-sponsored activity. Please note that it would not cure this constitutional violation if students were merely given the option to ‘opt out’ of participating in this performance. Courts have summarily rejected arguments that voluntariness excuses a constitutional violation.”

On Aug. 11, an attorney representing the district responded that it agrees that public high school students should not be asked to participate in any activity that takes place during a religious service, where that activity is directly sponsored by the public school which they attend.”

She advised that the district will not require students to perform in connection with any religious services. The district’s counsel added that she had met with all district administrators to give a presentation including “instruction regarding the Establishment Clause and how it applies to public school students and religion.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and its local chapter, the Central Florida Freethought Community, have halted invocations at Winter Garden (Fla.) City Commission meetings. 

On Aug. 28, Mayor Rees and the police chief ejected a local activist and member [who FFRF  pseudonymously calls John Thoreau] from the meeting for refusing to stand for the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance. FFRF wrote a letter protesting this appalling violation of the Constitution.

FFRF asked the Commission to “get rid of prayer altogether” and asked Mayor Rees to explain at the next public meeting “that citizens are within their rights to remain sitting for the pledge and that it does not reflect a lack of patriotism.” 

The commission held a special meeting today and voted 3-2 to substitute a moment of silence for an invocation. Mayor Rees voted to keep the invocation, one of only two commissioners to do so. Four CFFC members, including Thoreau and chapter leader, David Williamson spoke out against the prayers. 

“Thoreau” told FFRF Attorney Andrew Seidel, who wrote FFRF’s letter, that he is “very pleased with the commission’s decision.” 

Seidel added, “We’re happy that the commission has decided to be inclusive instead of divisive. Religion has no place in the halls of government.”

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

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FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.