Texas school district cracks down on religious promotion after FFRF complaint

A Texas school district has made important policy changes in response to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

FFRF had raised concerns with the McKinney Independent School District on several issues. District employees were displaying crosses in a number of rooms at local high schools. A religious poster at a middle school read: “As Believers You Are Saved Forever by Grace through Faith” and continued with other religious description including “Baptized into Christ Jesus” and “Soldiers of Christ.”

Additionally, a faculty member at a local high school (McKinney Boyd) solicited participation of students to read prayers, recite scripture and sing hymns at an upcoming baccalaureate service. And each year, the graduation ceremony of McKinney High School has taken place at in the church sanctuary at the Prestonwood Baptist Church decorated with traditional Baptist Christian symbols.

FFRF alerted the McKinney Independent School District earlier this month of these violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and requested that they be remedied. The School District recently sent a response to FFRF detailing the corrective action it has taken.

“Any Latin crosses and religious displays in public view will be removed,” School District Legal Counsel Charles Crawford wrote to FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover. “McKinney Independent School District will take steps to ensure that its staff does not organize, sponsor or promote baccalaureate services.” 

The School District promised to explore alternatives to the church for McKinney High School’s graduation ceremony, and it assured FFRF it would keep the church’s religious iconography covered as long as the building was used. The district will no longer organize, sponsor or promote baccalaureate services.

FFRF is appreciative of the rapid reforms.

“We are pleased that the McKinney Independent School District took quick action to remedy egregious violations,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The response can serve as a guidepost for other school districts on how to set things right—provided the follow through is done correctly.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 23,800 nonreligious members nationwide, including almost 1,000 in Texas.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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