Texas School Refuses to Stop Bible Reading Over PA System

The superintendent of the White Oak Intermediate School District in Texas is taking a very bold and foolish stance after the FFRF challenged them on daily bible verse readings by the principal over the school’s PA system. He says he knows all about it and will do nothing to stop it. Then he makes some really stupid arguments.

Recently, I have been contacted by two concerned residents of White Oak ISD and legal counsel from the Freedom From Religion Foundation concerning the use of scripture in the “Thought for the Day” at the high school.

The residents were offended at the use of scripture, demanding that it be stopped and calling for disciplinary action against Mr. Noll. I am fully aware of the practice at the high school and will not pursue any action against our High School Principal or any other member of our faculty/staff concerning this issue.

The letter from the FFRF is not the first received by the district. They contacted us in the fall with concerns about the practices at our football games. I have responded in accordance with their stated concerns and we have moved on.

Let me be clear, this is an attempt to draw us into a contest of words for the sole purpose of giving the FFRF a large amount of free press/recognition that they and their very few members (1,200 in Texas) do not deserve. This group and others like it, are wanting us to provide them with negative quotes to use in the promotion of their agenda. We can and will make the adjustments needed to ensure our students experience a morally sound, positive character based education. There are a multitude of options to provide our students, faculty and staff the opportunity to express their First Amendment Rights as provided for in the United States Constitution. Let me also be clear that we have not (in my opinion) violated anyone’s rights and/or subjected anyone to undue stress. Bible studies and scriptures are allowed in schools. The requirement is that the material be presented in a neutral manner. It is my position that we met that standard with the morning announcements.

My recommended response to the FFRF is, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I will be praying for you and your staff daily.”

Can we please stop putting stupid people in charge of our schools? Who the hell is their attorney? He can’t possibly have told them that the school is on firm legal ground here. I just hope FFRF can find a plaintiff willing to file suit here so the proselytizing theocrats at this school can get what’s coming to them. But if this is what the superintendent thinks, you can bet that the community contains many people who are willing to threaten, harass and maybe even commit violence against anyone who does so.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • matty1

    Question – does a teacher actually have first amendment rights in the exercise of their job or is everything they say treated as if it is an official statement of the school administration?

  • Sastra

    Let me be clear, this is an attempt to draw us into a contest of words for the sole purpose of giving the FFRF a large amount of free press/recognition that they and their very few members (1,200 in Texas) do not deserve. This group and others like it, are wanting us to provide them with negative quotes to use in the promotion of their agenda.

    Well gosh-a-rooney, if that’s their goal then it sure looks like their strategy worked, don’t it?

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com holytape

    You made the mistake and assumed that that post was written in English. It’s a common mistake. But remember he’s from Texas, and thus speaks Texan. I’ve taken the liberty to translate the post from Lower Simplified Texan to standard American English.

    Fuck you. I do not give a shit about the constitutional rights of any of my students or faculty members. If fact, I am actively working against those rights. Fuck the constitution. Fuck you, atheists. Fuck you, Jews. Fuck you, so called Christians who do not subscribe to the extract doctrine I do. Fuck you. I will use my position of authority to belittle you, to marginalize you and, if you speak up, to ostracized you. So let me be clear, I don’t give two shits about the students, their rights, my teachers or their rights. I only care about using my position to force my beliefs onto the students and teachers. Oh yeah, fuck you, outsiders!!!!1!!

  • gshelley

    Let me also be clear that we have not (in my opinion) violated anyone’s rights and/or subjected anyone to undue stress.

    Suggests to me he didn’t even consult a lawyer

  • John Pieret

    matty1:

    Question – does a teacher actually have first amendment rights in the exercise of their job or is everything they say treated as if it is an official statement of the school administration?

    Yes and no. it is a complicated area of constitutional law. But it is safe to say that a school administration has no 1st Amendment rights.

    I suspect what they are planning to do is try to shift the Bible readings by the school into an “open forum” for the students and faculty. That would be exposed if one kid was to demand his/her right to read some Satanist literature during the “open forum.”

  • Scientismist

    Also from the superintendent’s reply:

    Don’t get drawn into a game of words that has no “winner”.

    It will be interesting to see if the superintendent still considers it to be a “game of words” when the words come in the form of a court order. I don’t think they have consulted a lawyer.

  • coragyps

    White Oak appears to be in Louie Gohmert’s congressional district.

    As if you couldn’t have guessed that.

  • llewelly

    Step 0: Predict world ending any day now.

    Step 1: Bankrupt school district with a pointless and doomed legal battle.

    Step 2: Homeschool kids with creationist A Beka books.

    Step 3: Our technology-dependent society collapses due to poor education.

    Step 4: Crow about verfication of doomsday prediction.

    Step 5: PROFIT!!!

  • eric

    @5: sadly, when a school has a population of 70-95% evangelical christians, it is relatively easy for administrations to come up with a set of post hoc criteria that look neutral on their face but in practice are not. So, for example, let’s say you know the valedictorian of the class is a fundie christian. Then you say “we let the valedictorian do the morning announcements” and voila, you’ve got your bible announcements for at least the next school year. Just based on population, the chances are good that criteria will work the next year too, and the year after that, etc. The odds of getting a valedictorian in a bible belt school who is (a) nonchristian and (b) willing to go out on a limb for free speech is pretty low.

    So, I would generally oppose any “open forum” claim and instead point out that it doesn’t matter if they pick a student or allow some subset of students to pick among themselves who will do the morning announcements, or even if they allow the students to have some limted decision-making over content: the announcements themselves are “administrative speech” and thus fail the endorsement test.

  • peterh

    So, then, there are no rights for those (vaguely defined groups) who have “very few members.” And the Earth remains flat.

  • John Pieret

    eric:

    So, I would generally oppose any “open forum” claim

    Oh, I agree. There are some hoops they have to jump through before they can claim an open forum (I doubt of a forum of one would satisfy). It’s just quicker (as in the Bible-distributing school in Florida) to present them with an alternative the community wouldn’t like, as in readings from Satanic material, the Quran or, what might be most fun, the Kama Sutra.

  • shadow

    @11 John Pieret:

    Wouldn’t you need to demonstrate the Kama Sutra? I always said that, if Shadowling’s school went to implement a prayer in home room, I’d go for a rotating one with the kids, then join a religion requiring all in attendance to be sky clad.

    That would probably end the morning prayer.

  • ZugTheMegasaurus

    “Let me also be clear that we have not (in my opinion) violated anyone’s rights and/or subjected anyone to undue stress.”

    This is both hilarious and facedesk-worthy. Had he talked to an attorney, he might have learned that not even lawyers can use their own opinions as argument (I remember law school professors interrupting students who started with “I think” to hammer down the point). Uh, superintendent? You realize that your opinion isn’t legally relevant, right? Right?

  • sytec

    …and there are fewer of us who teach in Texas who are members of FFRF (or similar) because of numbers. Too limited on job options when the majority rules and you will not get a job if they are worried you will stir up trouble..

  • scienceavenger

    Let me be clear, this is an attempt to draw us into a contest of words for the sole purpose of giving the FFRF a large amount of free press/recognition that they and their very few members (1,200 in Texas) do not deserve. This group and others like it, are wanting us to provide them with negative quotes to use in the promotion of their agenda.

    Let’s see:

    1) Accuse your opponents of being motivated solely by a political agenda – check

    2) Demean them using their population/ratings as the yardstick – check

    3) Dismiss their concerns as merely being a publicity stunt – check

    4) Pointedly refuse to engage their argument – check

    Bill O’Reilly, is that you?