WHITE OAK, Texas — A Texas principal who quotes Scripture over the intercom during the morning announcements will no longer do so after a prominent atheist activist group sent a letter of complaint about the matter.
As previously reported, according to KETK-TV, an anonymous student at White Oak High School recently contacted atheist blogger Hemant Mehta after recording Principal Dan Noll quoting from the Bible during the announcements. The practice reportedly goes back to the 1970’s according to former alumni.
“He who leads upright along an evil path will fall into his own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance,” Noll read from the book of Proverbs in one of the announcements. “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”
Mehta then contacted the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) about the matter, which in turn sent a letter to the district, asking that it order Noll to cease and desist the practice.
Superintendent Michael Gilbert stated last week that he didn’t believe that FFRF should be given any media attention, and advised that Noll would would not be punished for quoting Scripture during the announcements.
“The residents were offended at the use of Scripture, demanding that it be stopped and calling for disciplinary action against Mr. Noll,” he stated. “I am fully aware of the practice at the high school and will not pursue any action against our high school principal or any other member of our faculty/staff concerning this issue.”
“Let me also be clear that we have not (in my opinion) violated anyone’s rights and/or subjected anyone to undue stress,” Gilbert continued. “Bible studies and Scriptures are allowed in schools. The requirement is that the material be presented in a neutral manner. It is my position that we met that standard with the morning announcements.”
But on Saturday, the superintendent advised that Noll will no longer read from the Bible during his “Thought for the Day.”
“We’ll still be doing our thoughts of the day and it will be something that promotes positive thoughts and positive choices,” he told local television station KTRE.
“It will consist of material intended to encourage students to consider positive choices in their daily life and plans for the future,” Gilbert further explained to reporters. “The thought for the day will come from a variety of sources and will not include chapter and verse from Scripture.”
FFRF says that they see the change as a victory for the organization.
“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,” FFRF Attorney Sam Grover told KTRE.
But Gilbert also noted that he had not responded to the atheist organization’s correspondence. It is unlikely that he will do so.