Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No.1 January February Combined Issue 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Ohio FFRF Complaint Makes Headway, Creates Furor

Belief in God Up in the Air?

The Lake Local School Board in Uniontown, Ohio, voted to remove a professed value of “belief in God” from district publications and its Web site in response to a Foundation complaint lodged in August.

The cover of the district’s August 2009 Blue Streak News said: “WE VALUE: Responsibility, honesty, respect, integrity, commitment, belief in God and religious freedom, our community, our partnerships, and every person as a unique individual with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge.”

The School Board unanimously approved a revised “mission statement” Dec. 14, which said: “Mission: Providing education to achieve success. Vision: To be the best organization for learning. We Value: Responsi­bi­lity, honesty, respect, integrity, commitment, belief in religious freedom, our community, our partnerships, and every person as a unique individual with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge.”

The board had scheduled a vote for Jan. 11 on whether to make the change permanent, said Canton Repo­si­tory news reports, but put the matter off because some district patrons and students want the board to fight the change. The Alliance Defense Fund has also butted into the conflict.

Nevertheless, the board is expected to finalize the vote to remove “belief in God” as a professed school district value in February.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president, said it’s ironic that media reports are spinning the issue as a big national group bullying a small local community.

“The bully is the School District, which has no right to promote belief in a god to a captive audience of schoolchildren. Under our secular Constitution, our government and its schools can have no religion, no position on whether there is a god, much less tell children and their parents that it values such a belief.”

The Foundation and its attorney, Rebecca Markert, acted on complaints from numerous district residents. Local complainants include Found­ation members, two sets of parents with children in the schools, and students.

After some hyped news coverage, including a hostile news segment, “The Name of God is Under Attack in One Local School,” on a Cleveland FOX-TV station, the Foundation re­ceived a vicious death threat on its answering machine, among other crank mail and threats presumably out of Ohio.

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