Remove an unconstitutional godly gigantic message from a high school building, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking a West Virginia school district.
Lincoln High School in Shinnston has a big sign displaying “God Bless America” on its building just above the name of the school, as can be seen in the image above.
“God Bless America” is a prayer, FFRF points out. The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages.
“The song that the phrase originates from begins, ‘As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer,’” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes in a letter to Harrison County Schools Superintendent Dora L. Stutler. “A prayer hosted by a publicly supported school does not pass constitutional muster. The phrase ‘God Bless America,’ uttered by a public school, amounts to a declaration of orthodoxy in religion that falsely equates patriotism with piety.”
The Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages. The Supreme Court has said time and again that the “First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,” FFRF emphasizes in directly quoting from a ruling of the high court.
Also, when a public school displays “God Bless America,” it sends a message to its students that the school is endorsing and compelling belief in God. This excludes the 38 percent of Americans born after 1987 — i.e., high school students — who are not religious.
“Harrison County Schools must immediately take down this awful religious display,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “This high school is egregiously abusing its authority in displaying this sign.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 36,000 members across the country, including in West Virginia. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.