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FFRF has Okla. school district remove huge bible verse


An Oklahoma school system took down a massive biblical display after the Freedom From Religion Foundation objected that it was unconstitutional.

A concerned Putnam City Schools employee informed the state/church watchdog that Western Oaks Middle School was prominently displaying a bible verse in one of its hallways. The verse is Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now all glory to God, who is able through HIS mighty power at work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we might as or imagine.” FFRF’s complainant stated that many employees were concerned about this inappropriate religious display but had not brought it up because of a fear of retribution. 

FFRF asked the district to remove the bible verse display immediately in order to protect the First Amendment rights of students. 

“It is well settled that public schools may not show favoritism toward or coerce belief or participation in religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to Superintendent Fred Rhodes. “This display directly violates the First Amendment by creating the appearance that the district prefers religion over nonreligion and Christianity over all other faiths. Courts have continually held that public school districts may not display religious messages or iconography in public schools.”

Additionally, FFRF stressed, the religious display needlessly alienated those students and families who are non-Christians. As much as 37 percent of the American population is non-Christian, including the almost 30 percent who are nonreligious. A recent survey reveals that almost half of Gen Z (those born after 1996) qualify as “Nones,” i.e., religiously unaffiliated. 

All this is why the district must remove this religious display from its hallway right away, FFRF insisted.

FFRF’s constitutional lesson was well received by the school district. 

“Please be advised that, during Spring Break, Putnam City Schools has removed the Bible verse posted on the wall at Western Oaks Middle School,” the district recently responded.

FFRF is always glad to educate.

“Children are owed a secular public education free from religious proselytizing,,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We’re glad that the district took swift corrective action after we alerted it.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country, including hundreds of members in Oklahoma. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism. 

If you are an FFRF member, sign into your account here and then update your email subscriptions here.

To become an FFRF member, click here. To learn more about FFRF, request information here.

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