U.S. school district forced to remove Jesus Christ image, hymn and prayer
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FRFF) is relentless in removing God and religion in America, and this time, the group has set its eyes on the Tipton R-VI School District.
The Wisconsin-based atheist group sent a letter to the school board and complained about the annual awards programme and candlelight ceremony, according to Fox News.
"The singing of a hymn as part of the Candlelight ceremony is on par with other religious practices that courts have ruled are unconstitutional," FFRF attorney Patrick Elliott writes. "The hymn declares that participants are bound together as part of a Christian community."
Elliott claims that the singing of the hymn hurts the feelings of non-Christians, making them feel like they "are outsiders, not full members of the political community."
The FRFF also took offence at the practice of conducting prayers during meetings. "School-sponsored religious exhibitions, such as singing a hymn signifying the group is part of a Christian community, are unconstitutional," the attorney writes. "Calling upon Board members, parents, students and members of the public to pray is similarly unconstitutional."
As a result, the school board acquiesced to the FRFF's demands. "In response to the letter, the District reviewed its practices in order to ensure compliance with both state and federal constitutional law," Supt. Daniel Williams says. "After this review, the District discontinued practices that could be construed as an endorsement of religion."
Williams says it is the district's priority to provide students with a positive learning environment, so it "strives to carefully balance individual rights under the Free Exercise Clause while ensuring it complies with its obligations as a public entity under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."
Aside from caving in to the FRFF, the district vows to "continue to monitor its practices going forward in an effort to ensure continued compliance – and a safe, welcoming environment for all students."
The singing of hymn and practice of prayer were promptly removed. But the school board went one step further by removing the portrait of Jesus from school grounds as well.