Ohio elementary school yearbook crossed line

The Freedom From Religion Foundation called on the superintendent of Gallia County Local Schools in Patriot, Ohio, to recall and replace a 2014 elementary school yearbook whose cover features a large Latin cross.

FFRF, which has 21,500 members nationwide, including 600 in Ohio, wrote Superintendent Jude Meyers on Sept. 26, asking him to investigate and take action over a state/church violation that is “beyond comprehension” at Addaville Elementary. The horizontal arms of the cross on the bible-like cover carry the word “Believe.”

“The inclusion of the Latin cross, which is the preeminent symbol of Christianity, on a public elementary school yearbook is illegal,” noted Rebecca Markert, FFRF senior staff attorney. “It is beyond comprehension that public school officials would have allowed this publication to be printed with sectarian religious imagery and then distributed to young schoolchildren.”

“Religion is a divisive force in public schools,” Markert reminded the district. More than a quarter of the U.S. population either identifies as nonreligious (20%) or practices a non-Christian religion (5%).

She noted that whether or not the yearbook was published by the district or a private entity is “legally immaterial.”

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor commented, “The cover of this yearbook would be appropriate at a Catholic or sectarian school, but it’s an egregious violation in our secular elementary public schools.”

The district contacted FFRF to indicate it would ensure that the Parent Teacher Organization would be told it could no longer use a religious cover for the yearbook. The district said the PTO was responsible for printing the book and that the cover did not have district approval.

Freedom From Religion Foundation