Editor’s note: An earlier version of this column stated “Ironically, the FFRF did not seem to object to the Latin words ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ meaning ‘Glory to God.’ Perhaps the atheists aren’t well-versed in Latin.” FFRF is indeed well-versed in Latin and cited their objections to the phrase in their original letter of complaint to the school.
Folks around Midlothian, Texas are raising a ruckus after the school district boarded up a pair of dedication plaques at two local elementary schools.
“Because of the plaque’s questionable constitutional nature, it has been covered,” said Jerome Stewart, the superintendent of the Midlothian Independent School District.
My goodness! I can’t imagine what was written on the plaques that would cause such a kerfuffle. Were the plaques adorned with naughty words or dancing girls?
No, my good readers – they were not.
It seems the questionable content to which the superintendent referred includes a pair of Latin crosses along with the words “God” and “Holy Christian Church.”
The plaques were posted at Mt. Peak Elementary School and Longbranch Elementary School. They both read: “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.”
Stewart said both plaques have been covered up and will eventually be replaced.
The superintendent said they had to eradicate the Christian words and symbols following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a sue-happy bunch of atheists from Wisconsin.
“FFRF believes that the district is in violation of the U.S. Constitution in its display of this plaque,” Stewart said. “Although MISD has not been threatened with a lawsuit, the school district’s attorney advised that it would not prevail in court if it refused FFRF’s request and a lawsuit followed.”
Parents have been holding demonstrations and prayer rallies to protest the school district’s decision to remove plaques. They’ve also launched a Facebook page called “Bring Back the Plaque.”
“I think that’s stupid,” parent Lloyd Pittman told television station KFOR about the religious cleansing of the school. “If you don’t like it, just don’t look at it.”
Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for the Liberty Institute, tells me the atheists don’t have a legal leg to stand on.
“Unless there is a parent with a student who attends the school and is offended, then there is no one with legal standing to even file a lawsuit,” Sasser told me. “The censorship of these plaques sends a message of division and hostility to the community.”
He said FFRF sends about 1,000 demand letters a year – but they only have the budget to back up about a dozen with lawsuits.
“No school should ever take action based on an FFRF letter,” he said.
Maybe the superintendent should consider getting new legal counsel – perhaps someone who is up to speed on the U.S. Constitution – and has a backbone.
Midlothian, Texas has become the latest battle ground in the war on religious liberty. But before the first shot was fired, school officials had a panic attack, turned tail and ran away waving the white flag of surrender.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.