Bible Verse Removed from Vigo County School Following FFRF Intervention

A religious exhibit was taken down from a Vigo County School Corporation classroom following a grievance lodged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

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The FFRF article revealed that the removal was prompted when a parent expressed concerns about a Christian display, consisting of a Latin cross and a biblical verse, in an English teacher’s room at Honey Creek Middle School, Terre Haute, Indiana.

The verse displayed was Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.”

The FFRF, through its Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow, Sammi Lawrence, reached out to Superintendent Christopher A. Himsel, urging the removal of the religious display to uphold the First Amendment rights of the students and to maintain religious neutrality in the school.

Lawrence’s correspondence emphasized the district’s constitutional duty to uphold neutrality towards religion and requested the removal of the cross and biblical verse, along with any other religious displays that might be present in the schools.

The FFRF article also highlighted that such religious displays could potentially isolate students who are among the 49% of Generation Z that does not affiliate with any religion.

In response, the VCSC, through its legal team, informed the FFRF that the cross had been taken down.

Superintendent Himsel issued a statement acknowledging the diverse religious beliefs and practices of the families they serve and the employees they have.

He recognized the need to balance the right to exercise religious beliefs in a way that does not impose those beliefs on others, given their status as a public school corporation.

Martin Mawyer, president of Christian Action Network, said, “The First Amendment protects not only the right to be free from religion but also the right to exercise one’s religion freely. This includes the right to express one’s religious beliefs through displays or other personal expressions, especially when it does not coerce or proselytize students into adopting those beliefs.

“As long as the display does not disrupt the educational process or coerce students into a particular belief system, it should be considered a protected form of expression under the First Amendment.”

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