Pop quiz: Where is this image from?
If you guessed a church’s Sunday School class, you should be right and you would be wrong. It’s from a public school district. Not only is it from a public school district, it’s in the video visitors first see when they visit the website for the Whitehouse Independent School District in Texas.
Even if there’s a secular argument to be made for why students need to known what Solomon asked God in the Bible, the video implies that promoting faith is a part of their mission; they literally show viewers the word “Faith” next to “Family.”
Family is fine, but why is faith considered a virtue here? In a place where students should be taught to think critically, faith runs against that actual value. And what does it say about how the schools treat their non-religious students?
“Individual families, teachers, and students are free, of course, to choose to rely on faith as a guiding principle in their personal lives,” writes FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover in his letter to Superintendent Christopher Moran. “But when acting on behalf of the district, administrators cannot promote faith as a core value.”
FFRF is requesting that the district remove endorsements of “faith” or religious teachings from its “Whitehouse ISD Mission and Beliefs” video and cease promoting a message that emphasized religion in any future promotional materials.
“It is not the business of the district to establish religious beliefs on behalf of its students,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “Public schools have an obligation to adopt a mission and core beliefs that are inclusive of all district students and families.”
This isn’t even ambiguous. There’s a way to teach religion in the classroom in a comparative way. There’s even a way to teach the Bible as literature. None of that involves promoting faith or pushing students to learn biblical trivia. I can’t wait to hear the District’s defense of what’s clearly promotion of religion.