Published On: Mon, Oct 29th, 2018

Freedom From Religion atheists attack New Prospect Elementary over FCA’s messages in gym, ‘See You at the Pole’ event

FFRF is calling for an end to multiple constitutional violations by a Tennessee school district.

A concerned complainant reported that the New Prospect Elementary gym in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., has text painted on the wall that says, “God First. Others Second. Self Third. FCA.” FCA stands for Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Praying Hands (Betende Hände) by Albrecht Dürer


FFRF Legal Fellow Christopher Line sent a letter to the district reminding it of its constitutional obligation to remain neutral towards religion.

“The district violates the Constitution when its schools display religious symbols or messages,” FFRF Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Christopher Line wrote in his letter to Director of Schools Johnny McDaniel. “Courts have continually held that school districts may not display religious messages or iconography in public schools.”

Additionally, staff members at the school reportedly organized and promoted a religious “See You at the Pole” event. Advertisements for the event were posted on New Prospect School’s official Facebook page as well as photos after the fact.

“It is well-settled law that a public school employee may not lead, direct or encourage students to engage in prayer,” Line writes. “Supreme Court has continually struck down formal and teacher or school-led prayer in public schools.”

FFRF is asking that the school remove the sign from the gym and desist from planning, promoting or participating in any future “See You at the Pole” events. The school must also refrain from encouraging students to organize or attend such religious events.

“Teachers are free to pray in any way they would like on their own time.They may not, however, impose that practice on young and impressionable students,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “It is a violation of both the students’ and parents’ rights of conscience.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members and several chapters across the country, including hundreds of members and a chapter in Tennessee. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

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Displaying 4 Comments
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  1. Netizen_J says:

    No, the FRFF is not trying to ‘eradicate Christianity from the public square. Nobody cares if the church downtown has a 20’ marquee with ‘Jesus Saves’ on it.

    The point is that our right to Religious Liberty necessarily includes our right to be free from Government Religion in any way, shape, or form. Do you want the clerk at the DMV to use your visit as an excuse to promote his religion to you? Of course not. Do you want the public school teachers to tell your kids that prayer is stupid because there is no God? How is that any different from teachers telling your kids that if they don’t pray to Jesus they will go to hell? Both are examples of the government agent abusing their public office to promote THEIR religion over everyone else’s. Both are unacceptable. Government agents have no authority to use their public office to promote religion. Government has no authority to promote religion. Any religion.

    The only way for government to respect Religious Liberty is to be strictly neutral with respect to all faith-beliefs – endorsing none, enjoining none, promoting none, prohibiting none.

    As the Supreme Court has said:
    “The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion. ” (330 US 1)

  2. George says:

    Why focus on atheism in the headline when the last line of the article more accurately explains the groups purpose? Also, it’s not an “attack” to remind a government organization of The Establishment Clause and how they are violating it, intentional or not.

    • That “last line” is directly from their press release. I include/approve the use of “atheist” in the title because the FFRF is engaging in a war to eradicate Christianity from the public square by any means. Until the Supreme Court rules against this Establishment Clause nonsense, this is what we will see.

      Yes, that is my stance: the Establishment Clause is about a national religion NOT random verses or prayers in schools or courthouses. Their existence in “government organizations” is NOT evangelizing anyone.

      • netizen_J says:

        No Brandon.
        ‘respecting the establishment of’ is a far broader prohibition than merely ‘establishing’.
        Government is not allowed to promote or encourage religion at all. James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, had this to say about the First Congress appointing Congressional Chaplains:

        “Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. …
        The establishment of the chaplainship to Congs is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles: The tenets of the chaplains elected [by the majority] shut the door of worship agst the members whose creeds & consciences forbid a participation in that of the majority. To say nothing of other sects, this is the case with that of Roman Catholics & Quakers who have always had members in one or both of the Legislative branches. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the evil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers. or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor.”

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