Bible quote removed from district homepage

A Texas school district has removed a bible quote from its website following an FFRF complaint.

The Troup Independent School District’s official website on its homepage prominently featured a bible quote from 1 Samuel 17:48: “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.”

“It is well settled that public schools may not advance or promote religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover wrote Stuart Bird, superintendent of the Troup Independent School District, in January. “No public school may urge religious viewpoints on students by granting special status to a religious text like the bible.”

The story of David and Goliath as told in the bible is not just a tale of an underdog triumphing over great odds, but is also a story about the power of the Judeo-Christian god, FFRF explained. Before David strikes down Goliath, he states, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45). Indeed, David explicitly states, “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47). This is a story meant to convert readers to Judeo-Christianity.

Quoting a bible story about the power of the Judeo-Christian god on the district’s website shows its preference for Judeo-Christianity over all minority religions and over nonreligion, FFRF contended. By doing this, the district unconstitutionally lent its power and prestige to Christianity, thereby excluding the nearly 30 percent of adult Americans who are non-Christian and the more than 43 percent of Millennials who practice a minority religion or no religion at all. FFRF asked that the quote be removed from the homepage.

FFRF has learned that the Troup Independent School District modified its website. While the website still references the story of David and Goliath, this is a prominent story in popular culture and contemporary literature. Thus, it’s not unconstitutional for the district to reference the story. It was the bible citation that constituted a religious endorsement and that has been removed.

Freedom From Religion Foundation