Humanist Group Demands Texas Teacher Remove Christian Displays From Classroom

QUANAH, Texas — A prominent humanist group is demanding that a public school teacher in Texas remove her Christian-themed displays from the classroom out of its assertion that their presence violates the U.S. Constitution.

The American Humanist Association (AHA) recently sent a letter to the superintendent of the Quanah Independent School District, as well as the principal of Reagan Elementary School to advise that it had received a complaint from a parent whose daughter is in the teacher’s class.

It stated that the parent, who identifies as an atheist, learned last month that her daughter’s fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Jalomo, had religious displays in the classroom. She went to the school herself and found two decorative signs: one that read “Listen well. Pray often. Love always,” and another that said “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

The parent contacted the administration about the matter, but Jalomo advised that Superintendent Ryan Turner told her that she was within her rights to have the signs in her room. A week later, the parent was notified by her daughter that there were crosses in the room as well, one of which included the ichthus symbol.

“As the parent deliberately raised her child without religious beliefs, the daughter asked her mother what the ‘fish’ meant,” AHA’s letter reads. “The mother, understandably, felt disheartened by the entire situation and betrayed by her public school.”

She consequently reached out to the humanist organization for intervention. AHA contends that the displays are a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

“These classroom religious displays are inappropriate in any public school context and especially in an elementary school,” the organization wrote to the superintendent and principal. “No child, Christian or non-Christian, should go to school to have his or her teacher’s religious beliefs overtake the atmosphere of the classroom. “

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“[T]he teacher is not merely ‘discussing’ her religious beliefs with students, which alone would be constitutionally violative, but is affirmatively endorsing them before a captive audience of students,” it asserted. “The teacher’s sign encouraging ‘prayer’ is especially problematic. It is firmly established that faculty encouraging prayer to students violates the Establishment Clause.”

AHA has requested that the displays be removed immediately under threat of a lawsuit.

“The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause unequivocally prohibits public school teachers from using the classroom to proselytize Christianity and encourage young children to pray,” Monica Miller, senior counsel at the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement. “The teacher’s religious signs and crosses promote religion and coerce young students to adopt religious views in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

As previously reported, in a recent dissenting opinion in a New Mexico Ten Commandments case, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Paul Kelly, Jr. and Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich noted that the Establishment Clause is being interpreted incorrectly and not in “the historical understanding of an ‘establishment of religion,’ and thus with what the First Amendment actually prohibits.”

They explained that “[e]stablishment was … the norm in the American Colonies. Exclusive Anglican establishments reigned in the southern states, whereas localized Puritan establishments were the norm in New England, except in Rhode Island.”

This began in Europe, “the continent of origin for most American colonists,” Kelly outlined. “[E]ach country had long established its own state church—a generalized version of cuius regio, eius religio—over which each government exercised varying degrees of control. Germany and Scandinavia had official Lutheran establishments; Holland, a Reformed state church; France, the Gallican Catholic Church; Ireland, the Church of Ireland; Scotland, the Church of Scotland; and so on.”

Therefore, the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution regarding “respecting an establishment” only referred to showing favoritism to one state establishment over another, and solely applied to the federal government.

“From the words of the text, though, two conclusions are relatively clear: first, the provision originally limited the federal government and not the states, many of which continued to support established churches; and second, the limitation respected only an actual ‘establishment of religion,’” the federal judges outlined.

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  • Lexical Cannibal

    Therefore, the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution regarding “respecting an establishment” only referred to showing favoritism to one state establishment over another, and solely applied to the federal government.

    So would everyone be okay if I put up posters that said things like “Strive to have the Allfather’s wisdom” or “Mighty Thor protects you!” or the somewhat humorous “Heimdall can see you cheating” in my classroom? Because I’m pretty certain that once it came to light that those posters represented my beliefs, I’d be run out of town, and it wouldn’t be the atheists chasing me.

    • calduncan

      Nobody is going to come chasing after you, miss. You just go to your little safe space, put on your footy pajamas, and fix yourself some herbal tea. May doc will bump up your Prozac dosage.

    • Royce E. Van Blaricome

      Absolutely! The more you and your ilk reveal yourselves the better it is for all of us.

      Btw, I doubt it escaped anybody’s attention that you couldn’t dispute the opening comment. Rightfully so since it’s spot on.

      • Lexical Cannibal

        Ah, yes, Royce, my selectively perceptive friend, hello again. I noticed you said “couldn’t” here, when I’m sure you meant “didn’t.” I’m assuming you’re referring to the bit about the establishment clause only applying to the federal government? Because I didn’t try to dispute it and failed; I didn’t even touch it. I skipped over it partly because it wasn’t especially relevant to what I wanted to say, but also because I don’t need to dispute it; the supreme court, in multiple configurations, already has. Were this NM court’s decision to make it to SCOTUS, it would be flatly overturned because we have not operated on that interpretation for many, many years.

        But that’s just the factual end, what really concerns me is your sentimental end. “The more you and your ilk reveal yourselves,” you say, “the better it is for all of us.” why do I get the feeling that “all of us” only includes Christians? To that point, better how? Better to protect your children from me? Why wouldn’t you think I’d want the same for mine, from you? Better to approach me with fervent conversion attempts? Better to harrass me, belittle me, and isolate me for my faith? Forgive me if I seem hyperbolic, but you’ve left the question menacingly open.

        • Royce E. Van Blaricome

          Hello. Glad to be your friend. Look forward to the time when you can be mine. See John 15:14. Those who are a friend of Jesus are a friend of mine.

          You shouldn’t be so sure. Again, you’d be wrong. Apparently you haven’t realized yet that I mean what I say.

          As for SCOTUS and the ruling being overturned, you’ve neglected one VERY important factor. That it is made up of people and that fact has proven that SCOTUS is unreliable as to what they will or won’t do. See Proverbs 14:12 as well as the many rulings over the years on which it has reversed itself. I’m a bit surprised you didn’t realize that given that SCOTUS was a primary consideration for many in this last election.

          But hey, thanks again for publicly displaying how you and your ilk consider what is “factual”.

          Why do you get that feeling? Probably because it’s true and, after all, you are on a CHRISTIAN site.

          I’m not gonna try to explain to you how it is better. For one, you wouldn’t understand for I spoke of spiritual reality. For two, I get the distinct sense that you aren’t truly interested in knowing or learning anyhow. But I will say I had none of those reasons you listed in mind nor are they now.

          Speaking of leaving questions open, you speak of your “faith”. And what would that be?

  • Becky

    “The American Humanist Association (AHA)”…aka, The American Heathen Association.

    The Gregorian calendar is pagan, but everyone follows it and it’s in every classroom. They don’t have an issue with that do they? Neither do they seem to be complaining when they get to go on holiday during Christmas or Easter (also pagan btw)…bet they happily take that time off from school and/or work. So, it’s not a stretch for heathens to observe pagan religions is it? Clearly, they don’t believe that paganism is violating the Establishment Clause.

    • antifasciste

      Most public schools now have a “Winter Break” or semester break soon after the Winter Solstice, but you’d be hard pressed to find any reference to Saturnalia or depictions of Inana around the Spring Equinox or “Spring Break”. Those explicit Pagan references would also be objectionable, but they are absent.

    • FHRITP

      Aside from the AHA, she IS free to display devotional materials anywhere she can. Public schools are among places she can’t. Besides, shouldn’t she not do that anyway to fulfil Jesus’s request that his followers not make such shows to others, rather be all humble and private when it comes to their relationship with their saviours?

      • John

        Please consider reading some of the contemporary documents, such as the letter to the Danbury Baptist Church. The “wall of separation between church and state”. Note that a basic premise is that the Christian religion is a necessary part of a foundation for a civil society. The wall of separation is strictly against the federal government, that it is forbidden to have an official denominational state church and show bias for or against any Christian denomination. It is also prohibited from any infringement of the free exercise of anyone’s (Christian) religion, anytime, anywhere. Jefferson and others strongly recommended the Bible as a textbook in school to learn reading, and the morals that make society work. To follow through on the position of the A.H.A., A.C.L.U., etc., against Christian involvement, such as the ten commandments, there must be no laws against murder, rape, perjury, stealing, fraud, and so on. A point that angers me a bit, is that I used to be an atheist. My attitude was, if Christians want to be stupid and believe in a myth, let them show their stupidity. The idea of openly denigrating or oppressing Christians for their stupidity did not occur to me, so why is there any group or organization doing it now? Going for my biology degree turned me into a Christian, because all the chemical and physical laws and the complexity of biology, demonstrated that creation is much more logical than the idea that it all “just happened”.

  • violetteal

    One of these days, the courts are going to overturn the previous rulings about religion in schools.

    • Royce E. Van Blaricome

      I wouldn’t hold your breath if I were you. But there is a King coming that will. Even so, come Lord Jesus!!

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Christian teachers should be free to display Christian things all they want in the classrooms; the children need them to be good. USA was created by Christians for Christian happiness anyway. Humanists should admit that they have stolen all of the noble ideas from exclusively Christianity; they just excluded God from everything from the good teachings and became meaningless. Secularism and humanism teach only immorality and infanticide as their conclusion. Mankind including Americans need Christianity for salvation and sane morality.


    The “faith” line should stay. As worded, people are free to take it to mean faith in themselves or whatever.

  • Croquet_Player

    No, public school teachers may not promote their religion in their classrooms. The school district should consult their lawyers on this matter, or they’ll wind up in an expensive losing court battle.

    • The General


      • Croquet_Player

        “How I spent my time in Civics class.” – The General.

  • Copyleft

    UPDATE April 17, 2017: The AHA won the case (as usual) and the crosses have been removed. School ain’t church.