The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to report that Skiatook Public Schools has removed Christian displays from multiple classrooms after the state/church watchdog alerted officials to the constitutional violations.
A concerned district community member informed FFRF that there were several religious messages displayed at Skiatook High School. One room included a prominent display quoting the bible verse, John 3:16, “For GOD so loved the world that he gave his only SON that whoever believes in him should not perish but have ETERNAL LIFE,” which was posted on the south wall of the classroom. Another room contained a sign saying “He is still good,” likely in reference to Daniel 3:18.
FFRF reached out to the district to inform officials that the students’ freedom of conscience was being infringed by these coercive sectarian messages.
“The district violates the Constitution when it allows schools to display religious symbols or messages,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to Superintendent Missy Bush.
Courts have continuously held that school districts may not display religious messages or iconography in public schools, FFRF pointed out. Religion is a divisive force, and including it in public schools sends the ancillary message that nonadherents are outsiders and not full members of the community. The displays needlessly alienated students who are part of the 49 percent of generation Z that is religiously unaffiliated.
After FFRF convinced officials that the display did not respect First Amendment rights, they took action. “The items mentioned in your letter have been removed from the classrooms,” Bush wrote to FFRF in a recent email.
The state/church watchdog is always pleased to see a district respond quickly to uphold constitutional protections.
“By taking this action, the district is showing respect not only for our secular constitution, but for the rights of students — particularly nonreligious and non-Christian members of the community — to be free from religious coercion in our public schools,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor says. “Students should not be proselytized by their teachers — let alone every day.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an educational nonprofit with over 40,000 members nationwide, including hundreds in Oklahoma, that works to keep religion out of government and to educate the public about nontheism.