The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state/church watchdog, is urging an Ohio district to take down several unconstitutional bible quotes from a school cafeteria.
A concerned Carrollton Exempted Village Schools parent reported to FFRF that there are bible-quoting posters in the cafeteria of their child’s school, Bell-Heron Middle School in Carrollton, Ohio. The first says, “The Helmet of Salvation — The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid. Psalm 27:1.” The second says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. Mark 8:4-35.”
It is well-settled law that public school districts may not advance or promote religion, and courts have continually held that this includes displaying religious messages or iconography, FFRF Legal Fellow Christopher Line reminds the district.
“This religious display is particularly inappropriate given that about 38 percent of Americans born after 1987 are not religious,” Line writes in his letter to Superintendent David Quattrochi. “The display alienates those nonreligious students, families, teachers and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.”
FFRF is asking the school to remove the bible quotes immediately in recognition of its constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion.
“Displaying bible quotes in a public school cafeteria is not only unconstitutional, but also unnecessarily divisive,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It sends the message that the school grants privilege to members of a specific religion, while making an outsider out of anyone who deviates from these beliefs.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 31,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 800 members in Ohio and a chapter in Cleveland. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.