High School Covers Up Bible Verse After Complaint from Atheist Group

In this July 5, 2019 Bibles are displayed in Miami. Religious publishers say President Trump's most recently proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could result in a Bible shortage. That's because millions of Bibles, some estimates put it at 150 million or more, are now printed in China each year. Critics …
Marta Lavandier/AP Photo

A public high school in Kentucky covered up a Bible verse in its locker room after a “concerned area resident” filed a complaint.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter back in November to Letcher County Public Schools in Whitesburg, Kentucky, claiming that the message above the lockers goes against “the Constitution” by displaying “religious symbols or messages.”

Bold letters on the Letcher County Central High School’s locker room wall showed the words, “But the Lord is with me like a Mighty Warrior,” with attribution to the Bible verse Jeremiah 20:11. But in February, school officials painted over the words.

Also taken away was a bulletin board message displayed in Fleming Neon Middle School which said, “Jesus is my savior you cannot save me,” and a prayer for children posted on the Martha Jane Potter Elementary School Facebook page.

“The bulletin board has been replaced, the Facebook post has been removed, and the locker room has been repainted,” Superintendent Denise Yonts wrote in a February letter to the FFRF.

The FFRF praised Yonts’ decision to remove all faith-based imagery in public schools.

“We applaud the district for taking action to remedy this violation,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, said in a statement. “Students in our public schools are free to practice any religion they choose— or none at all.”

But some religious freedom scholars say the district’s actions were in the wrong.

First Liberty Institute, a religious freedom law firm, said the district took action too soon to know whether a First Amendment violation had been committed.

“It is unfortunate that the school took such a drastic step before fully vetting the complaint and doing a proper investigation of the background facts,” Hiram Sasser, general counsel for First Liberty, told Fox News.

“It may be the case that the school committed a First Amendment violation by erasing the messages, but until a full investigation is done, it’s impossible to know the correct legal course,” Sasser continued.

This is not the first time the FFRF has tried to ban religious imagery or events in public schools.

In December, the group forced a public elementary school in Oklahoma to remove its live Nativity scene from the annual Christmas production after one of the group’s attorneys sent a letter stating that the school district was committing a “constitutional violation.”

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