‘God Bless America’ sign removed from Florida public school

Polk County Public Schools [Bartow, Fla.] removed a “God Bless America” outdoor banner near the entrance to one of its elementary schools after receiving a letter from FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert on July 27, 2010, and a follow-up letter in October. “The phrase ‘God Bless America,’ uttered by a public school, amounts to a declaration of orthodoxy in religion,” FFRF’s letter noted. “It is a phrase that falsely unites patriotism with piety. . . . When a public school posts ‘God Bless America,’ it sends a message to its students that the school is endorsing and compelling belief in God. Courts have observed that young students are particularly prone to believing that a religious message is school endorsed.” The Foundation received a response from the district on Oct. 12, 2010: “Please be advised that the referenced sign at Inwood Elementary School was removed contemporaneously with receipt of your 27 July letter.” — Bonnie Gutsch

Freedom From Religion Foundation