N.M. school expunges religious mural after FFRF complaint


The Freedom From Religion Foundation appreciates rapid action by a New Mexico public school to remove Christian iconography from its walls.

A large mural painted inside the Freshman Academy of the Clovis Municipal School District in Clovis, N.M., depicted a dove and an anchor along with a biblical quote, “Hope anchors the soul — Hebrews 6:19.” The mural had been painted by a former art teacher at the academy. FFRF had received a complaint about the inappropriate mural from a local resident.

In a letter sent to the district on Aug. 15, FFRF informed the district that it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution to display religious messages or symbols inside public schools. The display confers unconstitutional preference for religion by showcasing images that clearly prefer Christianity over all other faiths or no faith.

“Religion is a divisive force in public schools,” wrote FFRF’s Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Chris Line. “The display alienates those nonreligious students, families, teachers and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.”

Removing the religious mural not only complies with constitutional dictates but ensures an inclusive and equitable school climate.

Just an hour and a half after receiving FFRF’s letter, Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Jody Balch informed FFRF via email that the school was in the process of painting the wall to remove the mural. FFRF praises the school for taking prompt action to correct the state/church violation.

“We are pleased that the school district reacted with alacrity to remedy this violation,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “This action ensures that all of its students — of any religious background or no religious background — feel welcome and included.”.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national state/church watchdog with more than 29,000 members across the country, including more than 240 members in New Mexico and chapter in Albuquerque. Its 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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