FFRF Finds Rampant Violations in Texas School

FFRF Finds Rampant Violations in Texas School November 6, 2014

Another Mt. Vernon schools is violating the First Amendment. First it was in Ohio, where John Freshwater taught. Now the Mt. Vernon School District in Texas has been caught pushing religion — Christianity, of course — on its students in a variety of ways.

Numerous allegations of Establishment Clause violations include religious postings in several classrooms. One kindergarten teacher displays 10 Christian crosses on the wall next to her desk, several with bible verses printed on them. A high school Spanish teacher has a printed list of “Bible Verses for Teachers” on her wall that quotes such New Testament verses as Ephesians 3:16-17, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

“Public schools have a duty to ensure that ‘subsidized teachers do not inculcate religion’ or use their positions of authority to promote a particular religious viewpoint,” FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover wrote Superintendent John Kaufman in the Oct. 31 letter. “When teachers place Latin crosses or bible quotes on classroom walls, they have unconstitutionally entangled the school with a religious message, specifically a Christian message.”

It is FFRF’s information that hallways in multiple Mt. Vernon schools contain religious quotes painted on the walls. At Mt. Vernon High School, the quotes include, “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face,” attributed to Ronald Reagan, as well as one attributed to Thomas Paine, “Reputation is what men and women think of us, character is what God and angels know of us.”

FFRF also protested the district’s T-shirts on sale that read “FAITH – Family – TIGERS” with a cross replacing the “t” in the word “faith.” The shirts are displayed at the main entrance at Mt. Vernon Elementary.

“Public school employees cannot sell, ask students to wear or themselves don religious T-shirts,” wrote Grover. “Doing so alienates those non-Christian members of your community whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.”

“Given the variety and pervasiveness of the violations reported to us, we recommend that the district not only address the specific violations reported here, but also make an effort to educate all district employees about their obligation to remain neutral toward religion under the Establishment Clause,” the letter concluded.

In addition to the unconstitutional nature of all of this, the quote from Reagan is also monumentally stupid. Tell me what the Bible’s answer is to the problem of, say, alternative energy? Or antibiotic resistance? Or rising food prices?

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  • sugarfrosted

    On the last point it would advise rich people to buy the people with less money food… Oh that would never happen; I forgot we were talking about ronald reagan.

  • Sastra

    Tell me what the Bible’s answer is to the problem of, say, alternative energy? Or antibiotic resistance? Or rising food prices?

    “Don’t worry; this world is about to end. Prepare for the next one.”

    It’s a kinda all-inclusive answer.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The tautological answer is that if the Bible doesn’t have an answer, it’s because what you describe isn’t a problem — it’s the way God wants the world to be.

    So, for instance, if you are a slave and suffering all of the various things that happen to slaves (rape, mutilation, torture, etc.) it’s because either God hates you or God loves you so much that He has blessed you with these marvelous opportunities to strengthen your faith or whatever, but be assured that it’s how God wants it to be so suck it up and get with the program.

  • jimnorth

    And the school colors, oh myyyy, purple and pink! Gotta wear shades just to enter that building…

    Hopefully FFRF have documented every instance of un-constitutionality. Hopefully the school district responds appropriately.

  • John Pieret

    And the school colors, oh myyyy, purple and pink!

    What are they? … gay friendly?*


    * Just kidding … anyone (gay or straight) with a lick of fashion sense would know not to mix those colors!


    To give credit where credit is due, however, the Ohio Mt. Vernon did the right thing and ousted the Constitution-hating Freshwater at (unfortunately) great expense to the students in the district in hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses … proof positive that Freshwater never cared a lick for the students …. just for their “value” as proselytizing fodder.

  • pixiedust


    Hey, purple and pink were my daughter’s favorite color combo….when she was three.

  • moarscienceplz

    One kindergarten teacher displays 10 Christian crosses on the wall next to her desk

    And I bet you all want to chastise her for this. In fact, she should be commended for being so well-prepared to fend off a vampire army!

  • magistramarla

    The FFRF should quietly tour as many of the Texas school districts as possible. When I was teaching in Texas, I saw a lot of this. Spanish teachers seemed to be especially guilty of having crosses and bible verses displayed in their rooms. Several of them carried their personal bibles everywhere.

    I walked into the lounge one day carrying a nice leather-bound copy of The Aeneid and was asked by a couple of the Spanish teachers if that was my bible. I had a difficult time not making a snarky comment.

  • Anthony K

    “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face,” attributed to Ronald Reagan

    [Opens Bible, checks list of books]

    Holy shit! He was right!

    Dearest Mullahs,

    Ollie North here. How are you enjoying those weapons?—2 Iranians 1:1-3 (NGOPV)

  • Alverant


    I’m not sure if I can really object to teachers bringing their own books to school to read by themselves. My only concern would be if they used their position as a teacher to proselytize. But I think putting up religious decorations in the classroom goes too far.