Atheist Group Objects to Class Creation of Cross Memorials as Part of City’s Remembrance of Fallen Veterans

Photo Credit: WTVC-TV

RINGGOLD, Ga. — The nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist organization has expressed objection to the creation of cross memorials at a Georgia high school as part of a city effort to remember fallen soldiers.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter earlier this year to the attorney for Catoosa County Public Schools to assert that the crosses, made at Ringgold High School, were unconstitutional.

“We write to request assurances that, in the future, Mr. Elliott nor any other district employee will include religious messages in student assignments, allow school-sponsored religious activities, or otherwise promote or endorse religion in their official capacities,” it read.

The organization also took issue with another school in the district, as it had learned that Heritage High School’s leadership class had partnered with a Christian missions organization to build a school for the poor in Nicaragua. The district’s director of students services had recommended the group Nicamerican Missions after Principal Ronnie Bradford suggested the class partner with a school in the third world.

FFRF’s correspondence has just now come to light.

“It is laudable for the district to encourage students to become active, charitable, and involved in their community by volunteering and donating, but the school cannot use that goal as an avenue to support a religious organization with a religious mission,” the letter read in part.

“Partnering with any one of the numerous secular charities doing important work throughout the world would serve HHS’s purpose without running the risk of the district sending a message of religious endorsement,” FFRF asserted.

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According to the Times Free Press, students raised $20,000 last December from area businesses in just two days, and a student-faculty basketball game was also held in February as a fundraiser for the effort.

In regard to the crosses, which were made by construction classes at Ringgold High School for the biannual Festival of Flags event, FFRF requested that the district direct teacher Tim Elliott to discontinue the project with his students.

The crosses, which bear the names of fallen soldiers, are placed in the ground throughout the city for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. American flags fly atop each small memorial.

“Public school teachers may not assign students to create religious symbols,” the letter from the Church-State separation group read. “… This assignment violates the principle that ‘the preservation and transmission of religious beliefs and worship is a responsibility and choice committed to the private sphere.’ It also sends a message that the government only cares about the deaths of Christian soldiers, not other non-Christian and non-religious soldiers.”

Catoosa County Public Schools has just now responded to the controversy, explaining in a recent press release that while the district attorney is researching the matter, officials are supportive of the projects at issue.

“Catoosa County Public Schools supports students’ participating in service activities,” said Superintendent Denia Reese. “The flag holders that the RHS construction class built to support honoring our veterans, and the money that our HHS students raised to build a school for underprivileged children, are examples of our students working to serve others.”

“The system’s attorney is thoroughly researching the allegations from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and when he has completed this research he will respond to them explaining how our students can continue to participate in these service activities,” she explained.

In his 1823 book “Letters to a Young Man Commencing His Education,” Noah Webster, also known as the father of American education, wrote, “Let it then be the first study of your early years, to learn in what consists real worth or dignity of character. To ascertain this important point, consider the character and the attributes of the Supreme Being. As God is the only perfect being in the universe, His character, consisting of all that is good and great, must be the model of all human excellence, and His laws must of course be the only rules of conduct by which His rational creatures can reach any portion of like excellence.”

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  • Robin Egg

    Here come the atheist trolls…counting down…one…two…three….

    • Michael C

      Here come the atheist trolls…counting down…one…two…three….

      That’s just regular counting.

      “three… two… one…” would be counting down.

  • cobalt100

    I don’t object so much to the placement of those crosses, but I do object to honoring those who became entangled in the killing apparatus known as the U.S. War Machine. They were not fighting to protect our shores, but merely were caught up in the frenzy and the chance to actually kill people and destroy things. They are not my heroes and those that met their fate deserved it. Live my the sword, die by the sword.

  • Reason2012

    Search on public school islam and read all about the growing number of cases where students are taught all about islam, not Christianity, and these “atheists” do nothing. This shows they’re not atheists, but islam activists using atheism to remove Christianity from America.

    • Jason Hughes

      I call bullshit. FFRF has stepped in any time ANY such brainwashing takes place in the taxpayer arena, be it Islam, Christianity, or any one of the other hundreds of “One True Religion”. Isn’t bearing false witness one of the Big Ten?

      • Maxwell Edison

        Flagged for profanity.

        And you’re lying.

    • Lark.62

      Social studies classes can and do teach information about all of the major world religions. This is not the same as promoting belief in one religion or teaching kids that one is right and the rest are wrong

  • TheSayer

    i foresee atheists changing the letter “t” and the plus sign , since you know ……

    • Amos Moses – He>i

      hen hey would be aheists ……….

  • Missourian

    dont worry atheists,they will respect your fallen as well by marking their graves with nothing.

  • Lark.62

    Treat others how you would like to be treated.

    Would you like your children to create atheist or hindu or buddhist symbols in shop class?

    Would you like your children to raise money that will go toward encouraging children to reject christianity?

    Then have some empathy. And encourage schools to not promote religion. There are plenty of shapes that could be used as flag holders other than the primary symbol of christianity. There are lots of charities that do good things without proselytizing for christianity.

    Treat others as you would like to be treated.

    • Chet

      Apparently, you know not the difference between “religion” and relationship. Christians have entered into a relationship with God Almighty via His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary. The cross was and is the one and only means by which all us sinners may find salvation and forgiveness. Stand strong in the power of His might, Christians. No more buckling at the knees in the face of adversity only to drop and roll over… Jesus is coming for his own soon. No “religion” nor object of worship can save nor deliver nor promise eternity in the prepared place for prepared people, Heaven… Jesus saves, Jesus saves…

      • Lark.62


        It takes a lot of arrogance and a colossal absence of empathy for a person to say “My relationship with My Deity is real and the most important thing ever. But your relationship with your deity is too trivial to matter to anyone.”

        You would not like your children to raise money to get people to accept a non christian religion. Other people value their religious beliefs just as much as you value yours. And like you, they don’t want their kids raising money to promote someone else’s religion.

        No matter how special your beliefs are to you, other people also hold sincere beliefs about religion. All people deserve equal respect. This means public schools are not the place for raising money for christian proselytizing and they aren’t the place for adults to tell kids to make little christian crosses.

        And I was a christian for over 3 decades. I had a “relationship” with jesus.

        • Chet

          Something apparently went wrong on your end, no… Despite yours or my negativism, God’s Word remains true nevertheless; “I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by me” John 14:6, Holy Bible. Christ is the sole means by which all men may freely obtain forgiveness and mercy for all his sins. This is indeed relationship, not “religion”. Please share any object of man’s “religion” offering the same for all its believers, and done so wholly on the merits of the object of such faith and not on the adherent’s performance. There’s never a bad place nor bad time to share God’s offer of love for all us sinners… Problem is, many Christians are fearful to do so, of what I know not. Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus Ye Soldiers Of The Cross…

          There’s a great hymn for folks such as you and I – Coming Home, Coming Home, Never More To Roam. It’s words are sobering and yet speak to my onetime backslidden heart… Thank God for His unspeakable gift, the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary. A Merry Christmas to you, Sir, and, respectfully, please reconsider Christ for He is the One with whom we all have to do, sooner or later… And do so as you recall the story of the Prodigal Son…

          • Lark.62

            All that – relationship not religion, unspeakable gift, god’s love, etc. etc. – and yet you have no empathy.


            Apparently, you are fine with adults attempting to proselytize other people’s kid’s in public schools without the knowledge of their parents. But I doubt you would be okay with Hindus coming into public schools to tell your kids they should switch religions.

            I don’t want to be like you.

            What you have, I don’t want.

            That is not why I am an atheist. But nothing in your behavior makes me miss christianity.

          • Chet

            Well, please know that in judgment you’ll not be judged against me or any other sinner, saved or otherwise. Rather, judgment will be measured against God’s standard of holiness such as is found only in His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary. And, bottom line, none of us can ever attain it in and of ourselves. One missing Heaven does so via his own decisions and action one way or another in response to God’s love and salvation in Christ, and in Christ alone…

            By any means possible, I have empathy enough to strongly desire to fulfill God’s Great Commission such as found at Matthew 28 and Mark 16 of your own Holy Bible. Real empathy is in sharing real truth, not fables or error, regardless of the degree of sincerity so afforded. The fool hath said in his heart there is no God. We need to be wise to the trickery of the Devil and not be confounded by his mastery of deception. Thanks for the exchange of views and God bless.

          • Lark.62

            Every religion has sacred texts that describe the afterlife.

            Provide one piece of independent evidence that your sacred text is the correct one.

            Until then, how about obeying your chosen sacred and treating people as you would like to be treated.

          • Chet

            Respectfully, I’ve offered nothing but empathy, Sir. When signage indicates “bridge out” and a Christian happens to see someone barreling in the direction of catastrophe, the alert Christian seeks to turn such a one around and face them towards safety. On the other hand, one who is not empathetic, full of apathy and self interests, will either keep his mouth shut or so state, well, sure, bridge out, but that’s up to you whether you decide to believe that sign or no. Besides, they’ll advise, there are alternative ways to reach your goal, know what I mean.

            Regarding my personal estate, someone was once wise enough and caring enough to share with me the bad news in concert with good news via a simple gospel tract. And while many Christians had no concern for my or any other sinner’s eternal welfare, one such person did and when I reach Heaven’s golden shore, such man will be one of many whom I will give much deserved thanks.

            In closing, educate me if you will. Please share what other object of man’s “religion” offers eternal life in a prepared place for a prepared people. And one who, himself, makes it all possible on sinful man’s behalf without man’s performance of “good works”. Thanks for this opportunity to share God’s truth. If I saw my neighbor’s house afire, I owe it to him to alert him and do all possible to get him out of harm’s way. Such is why Christians share God’s good news IAW Christ’s Great Commission for all us believers to do so.

          • Lark.62

            I expect you would not like like hindu adults, muslim adults or atheist adults being invited to your children’s school to change your children’s religious beliefs behind your back.

            Newsflash – other parents also do not like adults using public schools to change their kid’s religious beliefs.

            Yet you are fine when christian adults do that.

            And apparently, you don’t even see the raging hypocrisy.

            Wow. Again, if a person’s religion turns them into an arrogant, hypocritical, self centered jerk, devoid of empathy, why should anyone believe that person’s religion is true?

            Note it was the realization that people “bathed in the blood of jesus” are just like everyone else that started my exploration of whether the other claims of christianity were true. So keep up the good work.


          • Chet

            I suspect we’ve carried our contrariwise thoughts about as far as we can civilly go. Thanks for the exchange of views and Merry Christmas. And despite your disdain for Christians, please know God loves all of us lost sinners and He proved it. Jesus saves from the guttermost to the uttermost. No exceptions, no turn-ways. No man is irredeemable as recently publicly declared nor beyond God’s free gift of unmerited favor via Christ and Him crucified. Out, and God bless as you seek truth…

          • Lark.62

            I don’t disdain christians. Christians are people exactly like everyone else. As you have shown eloquently, belief in your savior does not change anyone.

            I disdain people devoid of compassion and empathy.

    • pastoredsmith

      Pathetic logic, Lark 62, whoever you are hiding behind that mask. The First Amendment allows for the FREE PRACTICE of religion, and such free practice is NOT an endorsement nor creation of religion as the lunatics at FFRF suggest and threaten. Bullies and atheists have a lot in common. Trying to stronghold their way into domination. It will backfire. Stay tuned.

      • Lark.62

        Being told to make a symbol of someone else’s religion as part of a school assignment IS NOT the “free practice of religion.” The students have a right to choose whether to make religious symbols. “Free practice of religion” means those acting with government authority, e.g. teachers, cannot tell other people which religion to practice.


        The “free practice of religion” does not include the right to make other people pay lip service to your religion.

  • NWaff

    I pray that we get FFFFRF?

  • Chet

    Stand firm, people, and tell the FFRF to go pack sand… Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus Ye Soldiers OF The Cross…