A group of Louisiana middle school students succeeded in getting the phrase “In God We Trust” reinstated on the Ridgewood Middle School marquee after holding a peaceful protest on April 24.
Administrators had removed the motto after complications with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Near the end of March, the ACLU Louisiana sent an open letter to Caddo Parish superintendent Theodis Lamar Goree, regarding alleged religious statements made by the president of Walnut Hill Elementary.
“It has been brought to the attention of the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana that Walnut Hill Elementary/Middle School (“Walnut Hill”) has engaged in a pattern of religious proselytization by sending messages to parents invoking prayer, and through a lengthy “Principal’s Message” on the school’s website,” the letter read.
The letter stated that such religious messages violated the First Amendment and had to stop immediately.
Other schools in the district were affected as a result and worked to adopt the ACLU’s guidelines, such as removing all religious references from the schools. The letter is the reason why Ridgewood removed “In God We Trust” from the school’s marquee, even though the school was not directly asked to do so by the ACLU Louisiana, according to Yahoo News.
According to WSMV, the motto had been on the marquee for at least 15 years.
Both Ridgewood parents and students opposed the removal.
"I've seen it for years and years and years, it's always been there," said local parent and Baptist pastor Joey Ketchum, regarding the motto on the marquee.
Ketchum helped lead the students as they rallied and handed out hundreds of T-shirts bearing the phrase “In God We Trust” during their lunchtime on April 24. “In God We Trust” was reinstated on the marquee just hours after the rally.
"I'm so thrilled because that is such a victory for our students,” said Ketchum to KSLA. “They wanted to take a stand and they did and we're so thrilled to death that their voice was heard loud and clear."
When prompted for a response, ACLU Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman said, “If the students are unhappy about something, they have the right to engage in a peaceful protest, and the ACLU would always support their right for a peaceful protest on any issue.”
Image source: KSLA Screenshot