A groundbreaking ceremony for a new elementary school in Port Arthur, Texas, on Jan. 31 included several promotions of Christianity by speakers at the construction site (video below).
Principal Marcia Sharp opened the ceremony by thanking various local people, organizations and Jesus Christ, The Port Arthur News reports.
"...Our task here would be incomplete without acknowledging one most important component, with Christ we can do all things and we will rely on his power to accomplish all things," Sharp said. "With that, I need to call on our faith partners to come forward with a word of prayer."
Sharp introduced her personal pastors, and other pastors in the area.
One of the pastors prayed a "blessing" over Sharp, the school, staff and students. He ended his prayer with, "in the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen."
On the same day, the school posted pictures of the groundbreaking on its Facebook page with the caption: "What a wonderful day full of God's favor over Sam Houston! Great day for Sam Houston and PAISD!!!"
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Superintendent Mark Porterie on Feb. 8, asserting that a "constitutional violation" occurred at the groundbreaking, and called for an end to religious endorsement.
"FFRF asks that the District be mindful of its duty to serve all the students and families within its community, not just those in the Christian majority," the letter states. "The District must not incorporate prayer or other religious endorsements into future school-sponsored events."
There is no word if Porterie has responded to the FFRF.
Porterie also made a religious reference at the ceremony: "When God is in the midst, how can we fail?" The Port Arthur News reports.
Full Version (Note: Religious portion begins at 8:30 mark):