FFRF urges Va. school district to remove prayer display from cafeteria

A display in a cafeteria that reads "Lord, we thank you for this food Bless it to the nourishment of our (blocked by head) us to your service. Amen."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging Washington County Public Schools in Virginia to remove a display with a prayer on it from the High Point Elementary School cafeteria.

A concerned parent reported that the elementary school prominently exhibits a prayer on the wall of the cafeteria. It reads: “Lord, We thank you for this food. Bless it to the nourishment of our bodies and us to your service. Amen.” Additionally, the complainant has informed the state/church watchdog that bible verses were on display in the main office last year.

FFRF is urging the district to remove any and all religious displays immediately to protect students’ First Amendment rights. “Courts have continually held that public school districts may not display religious messages or iconography in public schools,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to the superintendent.

The school district violates the U.S. Constitution when it allows its schools to exhibit religious symbols or messages, FFRF points out. This display directly breaches the First Amendment by creating the appearance that the district prefers religion over nonreligion and Christianity over all other faiths.

Religion is a divisive force in public schools. The display needlessly alienates students and families who are non-Christians. As much as 37 percent of the American population is non-Christian, including almost 30 percent who are nonreligious. Additionally, at least a third of Generation Z has no religion, with a recent survey revealing almost half of Gen Z qualify as religiously unaffiliated “Nones.”

FFRF insists that that district must respect the constitutional rights of all members of the district and remove the prayer immediately.

“School districts exist to educate, not indoctrinate into religion,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Displaying a prayer poster in a grade school cafeteria aimed at the youngest and most impressionable children is not only intrusive, it is unconstitutional. It must come down immediately.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country, including close to 1,000 members in 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.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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