If you visited Mountain Peak Elementary School or Longbranch Elementary School in Midlothian, Texas last year, you would’ve seen this plaque hanging near the entrances:
Dedicated in the year of our Lord 1997 to the education of God’s children and to their faithful teachers in the name of the Holy Christian Church
Soli Deo Gloria
How is that legal at a public school, you ask? It’s not. It’s very obviously not.
But it took a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to have the plaques covered up with duct tape:
On June 26, FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a letter to District Superintendent Jerome Stewart, explaining, “The plaque at Mt. Peak Elementary offends the Constitution… since the plaque specifically promotes ‘the Holy Christian Church’ and contains a Latin phrase meaning ‘glory to God alone’ or ‘glory to the only God.’ The two Latin crosses on the plaque further solidify its impermissible purpose.”
That duct tape was torn off of the plaque at Mountain Peak yesterday and school officials, for whatever reason, say there’s no plan to tape it back up. It’s a very strange thing to say considering the school’s property was tampered with…
In any case, the Christian Right group Liberty Institute says the school should stand its ground because the plaques are legal (in Bizarro World) and FFRF doesn’t have the guts to sue:
Hiram Sasser, with the Liberty Institute, says the Constitution also forbids government hostility against religion.
“This type of religious censorship just because it happens to have religious references is really hostility to religion, and that kind of hostility should not be tolerated,” he said.
Sasser believes the school district shouldn’t back down before there’s a lawsuit.
“They probably are not going to bring a lawsuit, and until they do, there’s no reason to do anything with the plaques,” said Sasser.
That isn’t just some mild religious reference like “Under God” in the Pledge. This is a christening of a public school. If the plaque was offered in the name of any non-Christian group, you know there would be hell to pay. By the way, even Todd Starnes quotes the district’s superintendent saying that their attorney advised them to remove the plaques because they “would not prevail in court if it refused FFRF’s request and a lawsuit followed.”
That doesn’t matter to all the Christians defending it, though. They held a prayer rally at the school this morning because… well, they have nothing better to do and I guess they believe their prayers will keep the plaques in place. Considering the district already agreed to remove them, the only question is whether they’ll honor their word and follow through with their promise. FFRF doesn’t sue unless they absolutely have to, but they also don’t send complaint letters unless someone in the community asks them to. The ball’s in the district’s court.
(Thanks to Brian and @OrphanBlackOps for the link)