The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to report that the Vigo County School Corporation has removed Christian displays from a classroom after a communiqué from the national state/church watchdog.
A concerned district parent informed FFRF that an English teacher at Honey Creek Middle School, Terre Haute, Ind., had a Latin cross and a bible quote hanging on the wall of the classroom. The quote on display was Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
FFRF wrote to the district to protect the First Amendment rights of the school’s students.
The district violated the Constitution when it allowed its schools to display religious symbols or messages. Courts have continually held that public school districts may not display religious messages or iconography in public schools. The display violated the basic constitutional prohibition by proselytizing students and creating the appearance that the district preferred religion over nonreligion, and Christianity over all other faiths. Additionally, this religious display needlessly alienated the students who are part of the 49 percent of Generation Z that is religiously unaffiliated, FFRF pointed out.
“In recognition of the district’s constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion, please remove this cross and bible verse display from [the] classroom, as well as any other religious displays [the district] becomes aware of in its schools,” FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to Superintendent Christopher A. Himsel.
The district responded to FFRF’s letter with action that upheld the constitutional protections of its students. A letter from the legal representative of the school system informed FFRF that the displays have been removed.
FFRF appreciates the Vigo County School Corporation’s cooperative attitude in the matter.
“Maintaining students’ constitutional protections is the duty of all public schools,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor says. “A student looks to their teacher for guidance and support. Projecting religion onto them isolates nonreligious and non-Christian students.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 500 members in Indiana. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.