How Did This Christian Monument in Front of a Georgia High School Get There in the First Place? September 25, 2014

How Did This Christian Monument in Front of a Georgia High School Get There in the First Place?

***Update***: I can’t confirm this yet, but a commenter on Facebook writes that the monument was “made, donated and set by an anonymous donor.” Of course, that still doesn’t make it legal. Since the district is taking monuments, though, maybe the Satanic Temple could make one just for this school…

If you were to visit the newly-renovated Madison County High School in Danielsville, Georgia, you’ll inevitably come across a monument on school grounds… full of references to the Christian God:

In particular, the sculpture, placed at the Madison High School football stadium, contains the words, “Romans 8:31,” and then directly quotes that biblical passage in large text: “IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?” The Madison High School logo is prominently featured throughout the monument, as well as the words: “HOME OF THE MADISON COUNTY RED RAIDERS.” At the base of the sculpture is a reference to the biblical passage from Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”), bearing the following words: “I CAN DO ALL THINGS” “STRENGTHEN ME.” The sculpture itself is inscribed with the words: “PHILIPPIANS 4:13.” Since it has been erected, the Madison High School football team has started a tradition of touching the sculpture before home games.

Nothing about this is legal. Obviously. So you have to wonder how it got there in the first place…

Earlier today, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent the district a letter explaining the constitutional problems and why the monument has to go:

This letter serves as an official notice of the unconstitutional activity and demands that the school district remove the monument immediately or at a minimum, remove the religious references from the monument. In the meantime, we ask that you cover-up the monument until such removal takes place. We kindly ask that you notify us in writing within two weeks of receipt of this letter setting forth the steps you will take to rectify this constitutional infringement. Thank you for turning your attention to this important matter.

While I applaud the AHA for going after this violation, it’s worth noting that the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the district a similar letter a month ago. (C’mon, people. Coordinate!) I asked FFRF’s Andrew Seidel if he ever heard back from district officials — and it turns out he did. They told him they were “currently investigating options available to it [the board] regarding the monument including, but not limited to, removal of the monument or modifying the monument in some manner.”

So steps were already underway to change or remove the monument. (To be sure, I don’t know how they could just magically “change” the monument since the biblical references are all over it…) It might have been happening quietly before but it’s all out in the open now.

That means the Religious Right groups are going to get all defensive, send out their press releases to get the Christian base riled up, and make silly arguments about how this is a perfectly fine and legal monument and how atheists hate freedom… or whatever their playbook tells them to do. It’s not like it ever makes much sense.

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