Religion

School Slammed For Removing Christian Cross From Shirt

| by Michael Allen
T-shirt with and without crossT-shirt with and without cross

The principal of John Battle High School in Washington County, Virginia, is under fire for removing a small white cross from the school's new homecoming T-shirt.

Four designs for the T-shirt were voted on by the school’s Student Council Association, and the cross won, notes the Bristol Herald Courier.

The T-shirt also includes the words: "This Is Our Battle -- Homecoming 2016."

"The winner had a religious symbol on it, which we did get a complaint about it," Randy Poole, the school's principal, told WCYB. "It wasn't a major complaint, but there was a complaint, and I made the decision that probably that didn't need to be on there."

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In response to the change on the T-shirt, many students have protested by placing Christian crosses and religious verses on their lockers.

"Students, they make these designs because that's what they want," Kaitlyn McCraw, a student, told the news station. "It shows what we believe in."

However, public schools are government funded and are not allowed to favor one religion over another religion or non-religion.

Poole told the Bristol Herald Courier:

There was no question in my mind that students and the community would be angered by my decision. After I got the first complaint that questioned the cross, I knew it didn’t need to be on there and that the design needed to be fair to every person in the school. ...

We have held this art contest for the past several years. At the end of the day, we are not allowed to promote religious beliefs or deny the rights of any person in our school.

An unidentified school board official noted that the state code says that schools "assume no role or responsibility for the religious training of any student," and "do not become involved in the belief, disbelief or doubt of any student."

Mike Felty, a local resident, has printed up the T-shirts with the cross and is selling the clothing on Facebook where 460 have purportedly been sold.

"They can wear the shirt if they want to, I don’t have a problem with it," Poole stated. "We won’t have any issues as long as our students don’t disrupt the educational learning process."

Poole is hoping that students will learn how the government operates regarding church and state issues from the T-shirt experience, but whether students appreciated the civics lesson remains in doubt.

Sources: WCYBBristol Herald Courier / Photo credit: Bristol Herald Courier

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