Texas Principal to Stop Reading Bible Quotes After Recordings Leaked
After recordings of a Texas high school principal reading Bible quotes over the PA system leaked, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has issued a warning.
An unnamed student of White Oak High School in East Texas sent in three recordings of his principal reading the morning announcements. He chose to remain anonymous, and submitted them to a blogger, and atheist activist, Hemant Mehta of Patheos. Throughout the three recordings the principal can be heard reading scripture to the students.
Proverbs 28:10 : He who leads upright along an evil path will fall into his own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.
Proverbs 15:8 The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him… A moment of silence.
(incorrectly attributed to Luke 1:38) Surrendering is the best demonstration in obedience and trust.
FFRF Investigation into Texas Principal Begins
The FFRF responded to the claims with plans of an investigation. In a letter to White Oak ISD, the Freedom From Religion Foundation expressed their intent to investigate, saying that they “are confident that the investigation will reveal his bible readings have taken place” and “if confirmed, the practice is flatly unconstitutional and cannot continue.” The FFRF added that the “fact that the bible verses at White Oaks are read by the school principle rather than by a student makes the appearance of school endorsement of Christianity much more severe.” The letter finished with the following statement:
Nothing in the law prevents students, teachers or school employees from freely exercising their religion on their own time, and in their own way. But Principal Noll, acting in his official capacity as a White Oaks ISD employee, must not broadcast a decidedly religious message to a captive student audience, thereby isolating and excluding those students who are non-Christian or nonreligious. Principal Noll must be instructed not to include bible passages or other religious endorsements in any future morning announcements. The school should apologize to its students and explain why it’s inappropriate for the school to endorse Christianity, any other religion or non-religion.
Texas Superintendent’s Initial Response to FFRF
Michael Gilbert, the White Oak ISD Superintendent, released a statement in response to the FFRF’s letters. He talks about the recent contacts from FFRF and residents of the area who want the school to take disciplinary action against Principal Noll. He says, “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.” He claims that the FFRF simply wants to garner free press and recognition “that they and their very few members do not deserve.”
A Change in Course
However, after some time to reflect on the issue at hand, Gilbert decided to reverse his initial reaction and put an end to the Scripture readings during the morning announcements. He will not end the Thought for the Day practice, though, as it is “intended to encourage students to consider positive choices in their daily life and plans for the future”.