Freethought Today · May 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Crosses removed from public school windows By Jeremy Wood

By Jeremy Wood

On the morning of Sunday, Feb. 12, while playing with my kids at the playground of our neighborhood public elementary school in Hobbs, N.M., I noticed some crosses in a window facing the playground. This area of the school is mostly offices and large rooms, but since most of the rest of the window was blocked, I wasn't sure what room the crosses were in. My children and I go to this park often, and this is the first time we had seen the crosses.

The next morning, I went to the school and asked if they were aware of the crosses in the window and that the presence of the crosses was a violation of the Constitution. The woman explained that she was unaware of them and that my description of where they were outside would not be sufficient for her to ascertain where they might be in the building, and that my only option would be to call the district administration office.

So I called there and, after explaining the situation to the receptionist, was transferred to Terry Lopez, who introduced herself as the superintendent. Lopez informed me that she would look into the matter.

That first set of crosses was, thankfully, removed that afternoon. Unfortunately, while walking home, I noticed that another cross had popped up in what appeared to be a first-grade classroom. I called and thanked Lopez for the removal of the first cross and explained that another had popped up. She said she would "let them know."

The next day, noticing the cross was still in the classroom window, I called just to make it clear that I wasn't going to just go away, and this is when I first started feeling like I was getting the runaround. I went to school district website and found that Lopez was actually assistant to the superintendent and that TJ Parks was superintendent.

I emailed Parks and Lopez reminding them that all Americans are entitled to the same freedoms and asking them to uphold the Constitution. Happily, the crosses were removed soon after.

This was an eye-opening experience. I approached for help other people who have claimed to be friendly toward nonbelievers and was laughed at and told, "People aren't gonna go for that around here." While I am thrilled that the superintendent upheld the Constitution, this whole situation has showed me exactly how precarious our position is as nonbelievers in a tiny town.

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