FFRF assures religious signs only permitted during rental hours (September 11, 2014)

Elk Grove Unified School District in Elk Grove, Calif., took down signs promoting a local church after a complaint was filed by FFRF.

Signs reading “AnswersChurch.com” with pictures of a Latin cross enclosed in a lightbulb, were posted at Harriet Eddy Middle School. At least two signs were displayed on the school’s chain link fence. Answers Church rents the school on weekends (as allowed by a misguided Supreme Court decision) but displayed their signs throughout the week. Beliefs espoused at the website include, “There shall be a bodily resurrection of the dead, of the believers to everlasting joy with the Lord and of the unbeliever to judgement and everlasting conscious punishment.”

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a Sept. 3 letter informing the school of its constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion:

“If the church wishes to advertise its services on school property, it may only use school property during the time it has rented the property — on Sundays. It must put up the banners no earlier than when the rental time begins and take them down when the rental time ends.”

On Sept. 11, the district agreed, “[O]ur protocols allow for the sign you reference to be displayed only during the time of the event, such as when the Church has been approved to use the facility, and is not to be placed on the property beyond those times.”

Elk Grove is the site of the famous Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow case brought by Michael Newdow, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are an endorsement of religion and therefore violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution when recited in public schools. (Sadly, the case was later thrown out by the Supreme Court on standing.)

Freedom From Religion Foundation