Kentucky High School Removes Bible Verse After Atheist Group Complains


Thursday, March 5th 2020, 9:29 am
By: CBS News


A school district in Whitesburg, Kentucky, removed several religious displays — including a Bible verse emblazoned on the wall of a high school locker room — after an atheist group complained. That group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote about it in a blog post this week. According to the organization, they were contacted by a resident who voiced concerns about Letcher County Public Schools following "multiple instances of the district promoting and endorsing religious messages." 

The foundation posted a photo showing that Letcher Central High School had a Bible verse in display in its locker room, reading: "But the Lord is with me like a Mighty Warrior. Jeremiah 20:11." In a letter sent to the school superintendent in November, the group claimed the district "violates the Constitution when it allows its schools to display religious symbols or messages." 

It was the group's second second complaint in two months. It also sent a letter in October about two other instances in the school district — a middle school with a display in its hallway that said "Jesus is my savior. You can't scare me!" and an elementary school that posted a prayer on its official Facebook page.

"In recognition of the District's constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion, please remove all religious displays from the District immediately," the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in the second letter addressed to Letcher County Public Schools Superintendent Denise Yonts. 

Yonts responded and removed all the displays mentioned by the group. "The bulletin board has been replaced, the Facebook post has been removed, and the locker room has been repainted," Yonts wrote back in a letter.

Yonts told CBS News in a statement on Thursday that she and the Letcher County Board of Education "support our students' religious freedoms in our schools." While the district removed those particular displays, she noted that "Student generated religious displays, clubs, or activities are a very meaningful part of the culture of Letcher County Schools." 

"After receiving complaints from FFRF, I consulted with the board attorney for advice, and we followed the law regarding religious displays," Yonts said. "Only displays that in our opinion did not comply with the law were removed."

First published on March 5, 2020 / 12:08 PM

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