Ohio School District Removes ‘God’ From List of Values

On behalf of two families with young children in the school district, FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca S. Markert (then Kratz) wrote a letter of complaint in August 2009 to Lake Local School District in Uniontown, Ohio, pointing out its mission statement, which included valuing belief in God, was unconstitutional. The mission statement, which appeared on district publications and the district’s website, violated the First Amendment because it imposed religious sentiments on students and their parents within the school district, FFRF charged. Markert noted: “This value clearly demonstrates that the school not only prefers religion over non-religion but also religious students over non-religious students. This character trait also offends the fifteen percent of the U.S. population that is non-religious. The School District’s promotion of religion over non-religion impermissibly turns any non-believing Lake Local School student, parent, teacher, or staff member into an outsider.” The School Board unanimously approved a revised “mission statement” on Dec. 14, which deleted the inappropriate reference. According to a local paper, The Canton Repository, “legal precedent clearly was against the mission statement in its unchanged form. Board members and the superintendent said their legal advisers told them there is no way the district could win a lawsuit allowing the reference to God in the mission statement.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation