Saturday, October 11, 2014

Okla. School Challenges Atheists' Lawsuit Threat

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote Superintendent Dr. Fred Rhodes of the Putnum County Schools concerning a traditional painting by Donald Zolan of two small children with clasped hands captioned "Faith in America." While the FFRF is demanding a poster depicting the painting be removed from the office at Kenneth Cooper Middle School in Oklahoma City, the district has refused on advice of counsel.

For background, click headlines below to read previous articles:

Oklahoma School Assures Wisconsin Atheists: No Praying Coaches Here

North Carolinians Pray at School, Defying Wisconsin Atheists

Atheists Strip Memorial Crosses From Arkansas Football

Georgia Football Monument Must Go, Atheists Demand

Also read Atheists Threaten to Sue Every School in Tennessee and in Mississippi but admit they're Short on Lawyers to Sue ALL Christians

-- From "See Why This School District Is Standing Up to an Atheist Group" by Kate Scanlon, The Daily Signal 10/9/14

Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Andrew Seidel wrote that the poster depicts “two children with their hands clasped in prayer, with an American flag background,” and as such is inappropriate material for a school.

“The meaning could not be more clear, real American children pray,” Seidel wrote.

Putnam County Schools attorney Anthony Childers responded to the atheist group, writing that the poster does not “promote any particular faith and does not create coercive pressure on students who may see the image.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Atheists Want Painting That Suggests 'Real American Children Pray' Removed From School's Office But District Refuses" by Leonardo Blair, Christian Post Reporter 10/8/14

"The poster complained of has hung in the school office for 18 years without a complaint, prior to your letter. To date, the district has not received any complaint from any resident, student or patron of the district who believes that the image conveys an improper religious message. We cannot agree that the poster displayed in the office is a per se violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution," wrote attorney Anthony T. Childers in his response to FFRF on behalf of the school district.

"Though, as you've pointed out, the title given to the artwork by the original artist is labeled 'Faith in America', there is no text displayed with the poster which imputes the artist's intent, theme, or title," he continued.

"…At this time, we do not believe that the image violates the Establishment Clause and the District will not agree to remove the image from its office," Childers added.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "How An Oklahoma School District Responds To An Atheist Attack Over This Image Will Inspire You" by Norvell Rose, Western Journalism 10/10/14

The FFRF’s attorney fired back a detailed four-page emailed letter, calling the district’s response “insufficient,” and making clear his client would keep pushing to have the poster removed…even suggesting that legal action might be on the horizon.
“Last year, FFRF paired with the ACLU to sue a school district in Ohio over a similar issue. The school had displayed a portrait of Jesus for more than 60 years, a clear, if longstanding, violation. The case cost the school district $95,000 in a court case that need not ever have been filed. We wrote them a letter asking for the picture to be removed but were ignored.

“Moreover, this is not simply a picture of clasped hands. It is a picture of children praying. In many respects it is more egregious than the Jesus painting in the Jackson case. This picture tells students in the school that real American children pray.

“It equates piety and patriotism. No court would seriously entertain an argument that an image of two elementary school aged children, their hands clasped in prayer, one’s eyes lifted to Heaven, entitled 'Faith in America' is not religious.”
To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of public prayer, and read the resulting resurgence in public prayer following the Supreme Court decision including the long list of states enacting laws to bring prayer back to schools.