N.C. district removes preaching sign following FFRF intervention

A Duplin County school has taken down a religious sign from its property, following the advice of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

A concerned parent reported that a sign featuring religious messages was on school property at Wallace-Rose Hill High School. The sign was located near the track and displayed a list of religious-themed action statements entitled “The Bulldog Resolution.” The first line of the sign recited the bible verse Joshua 24:15: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Following the bible verse were 12 statements beginning with the emboldened words “I Will.” Many of these statements were explicitly Christian, including:

I WILL solemnly resolve before God to take his full responsibility for myself, my actions, my teammates, and our futures.
I WILL serve and protect my team and share with them the Word of God as the spiritual leader on and off the field.
I WILL be faithful to my team and coaches by honoring them and serving them as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to his church, obey His word, and do His will.

All students are reportedly required to use the track near where the sign was displayed for physical education class and the track and athletic field are used for school activities.

Duplin County Schools was in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by displaying these religious messages on its property, FFRF pointed out to the district. Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott wrote to the district, urging it to immediately remove the sign.

“It is well settled that public schools may not advance, prefer or promote religion,” Elliott wrote to the district. “This sign violates this prohibition by creating the appearance that the district prefers religion over nonreligion and Christianity over all other faiths.”

Elliott recently received a response from the district’s legal representation, informing FFRF that the sign has been removed from school property.

FFRF commends the district on taking swift action to remedy this violation.

“We are very pleased with the district’s prompt response to this complaint,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “ This is a positive step towards making Duplin County Schools more inclusive to students of all faiths and of no faith at all.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 30,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 600 members and the Triangle Freethought Society in North Carolina. 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.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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