This is one of the many reasons I like the Freedom From Religion Foundation: Even when they could easily win a lawsuit, that is their last option. It’s partly strategic (FFRF resources can then be used on other cases) and partly sympathetic (Do you not know the law? Let us educate you).
Lake Local Schools in Stark County, Ohio has the following mission statement:
Mission: Providing education to achieve success.
Vision: To be the best organization for learning.
We Value: Responsibility, honesty, respect, integrity, commitment, belief in God and religious freedom, our community, our partnerships, and every person as a unique individual with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge.
“They’re saying they don’t value you unless you believe in a god,” [FFRF co-president Annie Laurie] Gaylor said. The statement vilifies nonbelievers, she contends.
The foundation, based in Madison, Wis., wants the phrase “belief in God” removed from any of the district’s publications or Web postings. A letter to Superintendent Jeff Wendorf and Board of Education President Ken Brott ended with “we do need your assurances that your district will take immediate action to end this violation.”
“You can’t pray in the school, so how can you talk about believing in God in your school promotions?” Gaylor said.
While I do think the phrase needs to be dropped (though I don’t see a problem with keeping “religious freedom” there), I’m not as convinced that it is “shocking” and “one of the most egregious” church/state separation violations ever, as Annie Laurie suggests in the article. There have been many more blatant violations of the law in that regard — many of them fixed thanks to the work of FFRF.
Still, the lesson is a good one. Try to deal with the situation yourself in a nice way. If that doesn’t work, then you take more serious action. Don’t shoot first and ask questions later.
(Thanks to Todd for the link!)