A Texas high school will no longer read scripture passages during morning announcements, after receiving a complaint from a First Amendment rights group.
Early last month, White Oak High School Superintendent Michael Gilbert announced that Principal Dan Noll would no longer say Bible verses over the public announcement system in the mornings.
Gilbert said he decided to enforce the change after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Madison-based humanist group, wrote the school district a letter alleging Noll violated the Constitution’s right to freedom of religion.
Attorneys from the humanist group said they see the change in practice as a victory for atheist students.
"We will obviously look to confirm the change in practice with our student contact within the high school, but for now we consider this a solid victory for state/church separation," said FFRF attorney Sam Grover.
In the letter, the group accused school officials of constitutional violations due to Noll’s religious-based "Thought of the Day" announcements. The school records the messages and posts them online.
"We'll still be doing our thoughts of the day, and it will be something that promotes positive thoughts and positive choices," Gilbert said.
Some members of the community said they think the announcements help show students the difference between right and wrong.
"I think that keeping Scripture and prayer in schools is a very important thing and it should stay a part of our children's right," said Lisa Brown, a White Oak resident.
Grover said he thinks while the majority of the community may support Noll’s daily announcement, the FFRF has an obligation to protect the rights of the minority.
"It doesn't matter about what the majority feels," Grover said. "The constitution is designed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority."