School Removes Cafeteria Plaque Thanking God for Food Following Complaint From Atheist Activist Group

WYTHEVILLE, Va. — An elementary school in Virginia has removed a plaque from its cafeteria that thanks God for the food following a complaint from a prominent professing atheist organization.

The plaque at issue, which had been displayed in the cafeteria of Spiller Elementary School in Wytheville, read, “Our Father, we thank Thee for this food. Bless it to the nourishment of our bodies and our lives to Thy service. Amen.” It is not known how long the plaque had been present.

However, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote to the superintendent of Wythe County Public Schools earlier this year after being contacted by a local complainant, whose identity it kept anonymous. FFRF asserted that the plaque was problematic because the prayer could conflict with the beliefs of some students and their families.

“Elementary students should not have to view materials promoting a Christian message,” it wrote. “There is no educational or academic component or motive for such postings; their presence is proselytizing to a captive audience.”

The Church-State separation group also contended that the plaque was unconstitutional because it gave the impression that the school prefers Christianity over other religions—or no religion at all.

“Students may infer from the plaque that Wythe County Public Schools has a preference for religion over nonreligion, and in this case, Christianity over other faiths,” FFRF asserted. “Wythe County has an obligation to ensure that its schools are welcoming to all students, not just those in the Christian majority.”

It requested that the plaque be immediately removed from the cafeteria, and that FFRF be notified of the action that would be taken.

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While months passed before receiving a response, on Aug. 24, FFRF received a reply from Superintendent Jeff Perry, advising that the display had been removed.

“It’s reassuring to see the school district take such swift action to ensure that all students feel welcome in its schools,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a press release announcing the development. “Schools, after all, should be used to further education, not religious ideologies.”

As previously reported, in 1647, the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed “The Old Deluder Satan Act,” which required that children be taught to read so they could learn to read the Bible.

“In being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, … and that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers in Church and Commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors, it is therefore ordered by this court and the authority thereof, that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to the number of fifty householders, shall then forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read,” it read in part.

The first textbook used in the American colonies even before the nation’s founding, “The New England Primer,” was largely focused on the Scriptures, and was stated to be popular in public and private schools alike until approximately the early 1900’s. It used mostly the King James Bible as reference, and spoke much about sin, salvation and proper behavior.

“Save me, O God, from evil all this day long, and let me love and serve Thee forever, for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son,” it read.


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  • Jack-b-Quicker

    Yes, remove the goodness from the world and you will be left with only your own miserable selves.

    • DKeane123

      I know, forget the students of other religions that would think that the school values a specific religion over their own…

      • mr goody two shoes

        The first commandment says we Christians do .

        • DKeane123

          Nothing like a zealot that wishes for religious purity.

      • Amos Moses – He>i

        right … the one to be worship is secular government ……….

        • DKeane123

          Who mentioned anything about worship? School is a place to learn the three Rs.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            except when you remove God …. something else takes its place ….. and secular government takes the role of god …….. well ….. false god ………

          • DKeane123

            Really – didn’t know the government had supernatural powers and required altars and so forth. Wierd.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            does not need to have supernatural powers ……. you worship it in any event …… it does claim to have super national powers ….. so i guess that suffices you …….

          • DKeane123

            What is your definition of worship.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            anything a person values higher than God ………. the placing of that value is worship …..

          • DKeane123

            So I worship my bed, car, cereal bars, personal care products, and family? Seems like a strange definition.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            you could …. people worship all sorts of things as they eliminate god and that god changes as they see fit ………. people can worship entertainment, shopping, their “partners” and just about any other thing …………..

          • DKeane123

            Since I don’t believe in God and I do believe in dirt – does that mean I worship dirt?

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            you could ….

          • DKeane123

            Your definition of worship would claim that as I walk through my life that I am worshiping dirt – which is obviously silly. Matter of fact, an atheist such as myself would be worshiping literally everything – their silverware set included by your definition.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            nope …. i would claim you worship yourself more than any other thing ….. you made dirt the issue …. but i agree you could ……..

          • DKeane123

            How does a person worship themselves? This makes no sense.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            you reject God …. nature abhors a vacuum …. so you fill that vacuum with what is most preferable to you ….. and that is usually yourself ……… you value yourself above almost every other thing you know … you find dung unacceptable ….. you avoid stepping in dung … and if it is near you, you will avoid it at all costs …… but if you step in it …… you will touch it in a heartbeat to remove it ….. as you love yourself even more than you hate dung …

          • DKeane123

            So your theory is that everyone HAS to worship something. If true, then I really don’t have a problem with worshiping myself (something I believe to exist) as opposed to something that I don’t think exists. If given a choice between myself and Zeus (with no non-worship choice) – I’d pick myself. Wouldn’t you?

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            nope … they do not “have to” ………. they DO ………

          • DKeane123

            So everyone does – there is no choice in the matter? Which is basically that they have to….right?

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            they all DO …. they have a choice …. but they all make the same choice ………

          • DKeane123

            I’m not sure you understand. If everyone all the time makes the exact same choice – that isn’t a choice or free will – that is essentially programmed in.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            “that is essentially programmed in.”

            and science bears that out ……….

            Humans ‘predisposed’ to believe in gods and the afterlife
            Date:
            July 14, 2011
            Source:
            University of Oxford
            Summary:
            New research finds that humans have natural tendencies to believe in gods and an afterlife. Research suggests that people across many different cultures instinctively believe that some part of their mind, soul or spirit lives on after-death. The studies demonstrate that people are natural ‘dualists’ finding it easy to conceive of the separation of the mind and the body.
            Share:

            FULL STORY
            A three-year international research project, directed by two academics at the University of Oxford, finds that humans have natural tendencies to believe in gods and an afterlife.

            sciencedaily;com/releases/2011/07/110714103828.htm

            change the ; to a .

          • DKeane123

            A natural tendency to believe in something is not the same as that thing existing. Assuming you then accept the point that a choice that everyone automatically makes isn’t a choice.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            we all choose to not jump off high places to test gravity ……. it is a choice …….. it is a natural tendency to believe it ………. and except for the occasional person who commits suicide …. we all make that choice ……… so are you telling me it is NOT a choice ……

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            it is a choice … we have a limited free choice …….. and science is saying … yeah … to a degree it IS programmed in ……………

          • Netizen_James

            No, sorry – that’s just silly. No, non-theists do not ‘worship’ the government. We don’t ‘worship’ anything at all. I know that’s hard for some to fathom. Some want to pretend that ‘belief’ is the natural state, and skepticism is artificial, but that’s simply nonsense. Every child is born an atheist. Myths must be taught.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            you allow it to replace God …… to you it is a god ….. it is all you have … or in the alternative … and far more likely … you worship yourself … yourself takes Gods place ….. you worship and are ruled by your desires ……

          • Netizen_James

            No, again, that’s nonsense. there is nothing that is ‘a god’ to me. There are no gods. There’s just us meatbags. That’s scary, I know. People don’t want the responsibility of knowing that we’re on our own – and that if there is to be Justice or Peace, that it’s on US to make it happen. It’s best to not presume to pretend that you know what’s in other people’s heads.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            you are god to you ………..

          • Paladin Roy

            Regret, Remorse, and Repentance ??? … Yes the three “R’s” can possibly lead to Forgiveness, but Forgiveness is NOT mandatory of the Lord of Hosts.

          • DKeane123

            Ha, that was cute. Trivial, but cute.

    • Netizen_James

      the imposition of religious beliefs by government entities is part of the evil of this world, not any part of ‘goodness’.

      The only way for everyone’s religious liberty to be respected is for government to remain strictly neutral towards ALL theological tenets: Promoting none, prohibiting none, endorsing none, enjoining none.

      And no, the lack of promotion is not the promotion of lack. If I refrain from promoting GM that doesn’t mean I’m promoting Ford.

      • Jack-b-Quicker

        Go take your speech to Saudi Arabia. Here, in America, we are Christian.

  • Nedd Kareiva

    Trust me, there was no whining complainant other than the FFRF themselves. Come on, how many folks out there ever heard of them? The FFRF states they have like 29,000 members nationwide, less than 1/100th of 1% of the U.S. population. The ACLU has far greater name recognition, let alone members. Thus it might be more credible if the ACLU was the challenger of this plaque, plus when the ACLU sues, they often use some criteria to identify the one offended. Not so the godless FFRF.

    Honestly, we need to do something to show these legal thugs that they have no business dictating their godlessness upon the rest of the country. If nothing else, we need to pray this group out of existence.

    • dromedaryhump

      I trust you’d be as irate if the FFRF demanded that a similar a prayer to Satan, Moloch, Ganesh, or Shiva be removed from a public school’s wall. .

    • DKeane123

      What does it matter how large the organization is or how good their name recognition is? If something is illegal, it is illegal.

      • dromedaryhump

        Alas, you are casting pearls before swine.
        It always gives me rotator cuff problems when I do it.

    • dromedaryhump

      “If nothing else, we need to pray this group out of existence.”

      Let me know how that works for you. While you’re at it, you may want to pray the Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, the KKK, et al, out of existence.
      Or probably not since they all love Jesus.

    • Tom Ritchford

      Tell me – would you be OK if your kid’s cafeteria had Koran quotes in it? No? Then why do you think all the Muslim, Jewish, atheist, Hindu… families would be OK with quotes from the Christian bible?

      Luckily, we don’t really have to argue about this. The Constitution is clear on this matter.

      > these legal thugs

      What you mean is that the law should treat Christianity preferentially. Well, it doesn’t. Deal with it.

    • Netizen_James

      The thugs are the ones who use the authority of their public office to promote THEIR religion as the ‘officially correct’ one.

  • disqus_BDBCEvISae

    It’s reassuring to see the school district take such swift action to ensure that all students feel welcome in its schools. Schools, after all, should be used to further education, not religious ideologies.

    • Amos Moses – He>i

      right …. government ideologies are the preferred modes of indoctrination …….

      • disqus_BDBCEvISae

        I trust a Government of the people, by the people, for the people more than any church. Better our kids have access to thousands of books in the school library than a single ancient collection of stories from the bronze age. Have the kids give thanks to the farm workers, truck drivers, store clerks and cafeteria works. They did all the work.

        • dromedaryhump

          When I thank “Jesus” for my food..I mean Jesus (“Hey-sus”) the Mexican laborer who worked the fields and picked it for me at virtual slave labor wages.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            boo hoo ………

          • Representative

            Really troll?

        • Amos Moses – He>i

          so government is your god ……… just what i was pointing out ………

        • Amos Moses – He>i

          still trying to figure out how they created the seeds, created the actual soil to grow it in, created water for the seeds, created the sunshine to make the plants grow, actually made the plants grow, got them to come out as something that was edible because how would they know it before hand ….. etc …..

          mostly …. they did not ……. so they do not get that credit for anothers work ………

          • Representative

            That’s too hard for the ungodly. However let’s not forget their own hearts are condemning them but they don’t know why.

  • Lexical Cannibal

    People around here are acting like this is some great injustice spurred on by cruel prejudice like I wouldn’t be run out of town by “Concerned Christian Parents” if I’d tried to put up a sign that said something like “Hail Freyja, bringer of bounteous harvest, and praise to her for our meal.”

    Because I would. I’d be harassed for ages for it, and my plaque would be nuked into the ground by complaints inside of a week. This is totally different, though. I’m sure.

    • Paladin Roy

      I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. ..Isaiah 42:8

      This was the Lord of Hosts speaking Himself, not man. Sure they can remove the open praise unto the Lord and give it to their idols, but God is a God of Wrath as well as Love and He is to be feared above all.

      And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. ..Matthew 10:28

      • Jonathan Thomas

        Will God be brought down for lack of a plaque?

        • Paladin Roy

          No, but it can draw God’s wrath upon the people for rejecting Him. Better that this thing had never been done than to have it and remove it because of satan’s henchmen whom they fear.

          • Tom Ritchford

            The Bible itself says, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

            But I guess you think you know better than the Bible.

            The sort of “God” who would punish people for not putting up a plaque sounds like the epitome of evil to me. Are you sure you aren’t worshipping the Devil instead?

      • Lexical Cannibal

        God is a God of Wrath as well as Love and He is to be feared above all.

        Even my gods understand the importance of an observed neutrality for the purposes of peace; we would call it “frith,” and my gods are as self-centered as anyone. If yours is going to throw a fit and start threatening people’s souls every time he can’t be the only game in town, maybe he’s not as glorious as he makes himself out to be. I had a boss like that once. Turns out she was just incompetent and massively insecure about it.

      • Netizen_James

        No, that was a bunch of words made up and written down by some bronze-age goat-herder in the first case, and by 1st century mythmakers in the second case. There is no evidence of any deity. No evidence of souls, spirits, ghosts, demons, angels or deities. No, ancient words from dusty scrolls do not qualify as ‘evidence’. Evidence must be empirical – that means the evidence must be objective, public, and repeatable. None of those things applies to ANYTHING held out as ‘evidence’ for a ‘spiritual plane’ or any spiritual force or entity. There is a REASON why nobody ever even came close to qualifying for the Randi prize.

        You are certainly welcome to believe whatever you’d like. And you’re free to spend your time and money trying to convince others of the validity of your beliefs. But you’re not free to push those beliefs on innocent schoolchildren using MY tax-dollars and OUR government institutions to do it with.

  • Representative

    Heartbreaking

    • NCOriolesFan

      over the litigation of grace before meals.

  • Faithwalker

    Satan has been trying to remove God and His Son from existence for millennia. But, so far he has been unsuccessful, and will continue to be because those that worship in spirit and truth knows how the story of humankind ends. So they can sue to remove as many plagues and statutes, etc as they please, but God and His word will remain forever.

    John 1:1-5
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    2 The same was in the beginning with God.

    3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

    5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    • Tom Ritchford

      > So FFRF can sue to remove as many plagues and statutes,

      A “plague” is an infectious disease. Do you want those in your school?

      A “statute” is a law. The FFRF hasn’t said anything about about “statutes” in school.

      Perhaps if you’d spent a little more time on school and a little less on the Bible you might be able to write coherent English.

    • DKeane123

      Has Satan read the Bible? Seems like it should know the outcome is predetermined already. Or Satan doesn’t have free will and is just a puppet?

      • Faithwalker

        I don’t expect you to understand those things that pertain to the word of God, because they are spiritually discerned. So instead of resorting to insults and disrespectful retorts in my reply to you, I will just pray for you.

        • DKeane123

          “You wouldn’t understand” is an answer you give when you don’t have an answer.

  • Guzzman

    The Supreme Court settled this issue long ago – public schools cannot promote religious messages. Doing so represents an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. The school wisely corrected its mistake and thereby avoided a costly lawsuit.

  • Stupid Atheist

    Hang a plaque thanking Zeus for lightning, Venus for love, and Vulcan for Mount St. Helens, and more folks might appreciate why this is problematic…

    • NCOriolesFan

      Yes because the sign is naming the god of a particular religion. The plaque is not naming any particular god. Father could mean any god. I don’t see the particular Christian nature of the sign except I know who the Father is.

      • Stupid Atheist

        “Amen” is fairly exclusive to the Judaeo-Christian worship of Yahweh, is it not…?

        • NCOriolesFan

          Says who. It can used to agree too and sing too.

          • Stupid Atheist

            Strong’s Concordance, for one.

            The ancient Hebrews who coined the word, for another (and another, and another, and another)…

  • Ginger

    Nothing new under the sun! Psalm 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doesth good. 2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did, understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together filthy: there in none that doeth good, no, not one. 4 Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up My people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. [KJV] This Psalm was written by David, declared a prophet in Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher in with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne [KJV]
    Schools are nothing but indoctrination centers for spewing the evolution hypothesis from Freemason Charles Darwin or “the big bang” Another theory presented this title given by Brad Doyle, mathematician scoffs at “Big Bang” universe. It was based on hypothesis put forth by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) an occultist, medium, theosophist who said “trust the spirits for good science” he got this idea at a séance that entities told him, but no one questioned who these entities were? Now, we are starting to hear scientist say “aliens” of course the evil spirits want people to believe “aliens” were here, so they will be in awe of them when they arrive on their vessels. But truths from the Bible are so exact, it is in the final chapters of this flesh age.

  • NCOriolesFan

    Where was the so-called Christian’ message in it? Father could mean anyone or any god. Nothing wrong here, not guilty. Next case.

    • Netizen_James

      The promotion of THEISM as the ‘officially correct’ theological stance is just as inappropriate for government entities as the promotion of reincarnation. “In God we Trust” is no different from “In Zeus we trust”, or “In Odin we trust” (or ‘Shiva’ or ‘Ra’ or ‘Baal’).

      Do you want you child’s school promoting reincarnation as the ‘officially correct’ concept of the ‘afterlife’? Do you want your child’s teacher to tell him/her that if they misbehave, they may ‘come back’ as a cockroach or a spider? No? So maybe the Christian thing to do would be to TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM TREAT YOU – which would mean NOT forcing YOUR religion down THEIR throats. Is that really asking too much?

      Did Jesus say that the Romans had to promote His ideas? He did not. Jesus was a supporter of the separation of Church and State – which is why He said ‘render under to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and unto God that which belongs to God’.

      • NCOriolesFan

        I guess you should burn all your “In God We Trust” dollar bills if you don’t like god or religion in general.

  • cobalt100

    Children in public schools shouldn’t have to be subjected to religious expressions that have nothing to do with their education. Religion is like a Venus fly trap that encapsulate their victims into a life-time of torment and agony. It is a prison system whereby the prisoners pass their own sentence upon themselves. There are no bars or locks. They can leave anytime they want.

  • Netizen_James

    The Massachusetts Bay Colony has nothing whatsoever to do with the laws of the United States of America. The inclusion of that section of this article serves no legitimate purpose, but is clearly intended merely to confuse the issue at hand.

    According to Scripture, in Romans 13:1-6, the American Founders (e.g. Washington and Jefferson and Franklin and Madison and them) were all blasphemous heretics for rebelling against the God-Given authority of King George III. The USA is not, and has never been a Christian Theocracy – which is why neither the words ‘God’ nor ‘Jesus’ appear even once in the Constitution for the United States of America.