DANIELSVILLE, Ga. — A school board in Georgia has voted unanimously to remove two Scriptures from a sculpture that sits outside of the field house at a local high school after a prominent humanist and atheist organization asserted that the use of the verses violated the U.S. Constitution.
The Madison County School Board voted Tuesday night following a nearly two hour hearing over the matter that drew approximately 150-200 area residents, many of whom were present to support the monument’s inclusion of the Bible verses. Three citizens spoke to the board to represent those who believed the sculpture should not be altered to appease those who take issue with the citation of Scripture.
As previously reported, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the Washington, D.C.-based American Humanist Association (AHA) recently both sent letters to officials with the district in regard to a monument that had been erected at Madison County High School.
In addition to the school logo and the slogan “Home of the Red Raiders,” the sculpture at issue contains two Bible verses: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” from Romans 8:31 and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” from Philippians 4:13. The monument was paid for by private funds, but the identity of the sponsor has not been revealed.
FFRF and AHA contended that because the sculpture is placed on public school property, the inclusion of Scripture on the monument is a violation of the “separation of church and state” because it suggests that the school prefers Christianity over other religions—or Godlessness.
“The Bible verses on this monument violate this basic constitutional prohibition by creating the appearance that the school, and by extension the district, prefer religion to non-religion and Christianity to all other religions,” wrote FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel in his letter to the district.
Monica Miller of AHA requested that the district “cover up the monument” until the Scriptures were removed, and Seidel likewise asked that officials “remove the Bible quotes from the monument and any other religious messages posted on district property.”
On Tuesday night, the Madison County School Board considered whether or not the sculpture presented an issue and what its options were about the matter. According to the Madison Journal, school board attorney Cory Kirby opined that there were three possibilities: leave the monument as is, remove the Scriptures, or move the sculpture to private property.
Local resident Theresa Gordon asked the board not to bow to the demands of FFRF and AHA.
“We are not here as haters; we are here to love all,” she said. “It seems as if these [atheist] groups are here as haters, willing to spend millions to remove God from [our society], which means they are anti-christs by definition. They must have hatred in their hearts to fight so hard to remove Him from this small object that was placed for others to enjoy.”
“This is the South, the Bible belt of the world,” stated Jess Martin. “We cannot let them take advantage of our rights as a Christian nation.”
Approximately 17 area pastors gathered together as well and prayed as the hearing took place.
But ultimately, board member Robert Hooper made a motion to modify the monument, remarking that he did so “with great consideration and concern for all students.” His motion was seconded by board member Cindy Nash. Chairman Greg Wilkes then announced that Superintendent Allen McCannon would give the go-ahead for alterations following the board’s vote to remove the Scriptures.
Photo: My Fox Atlanta screenshot