KENOSHA, Wisc. — A number of Christian displays have been removed from an elementary school classroom in Wisconsin after one of the nation’s most conspicuous atheist activist organizations sent a letter asserting that the posters and symbols were unconstitutional.
Rob Moore, the local chapter president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), told WTMJ-TV that he had complained for months about the displays in his son’s fourth grade classroom at Pleasant Prairie Elementary School in Kenosha. Earlier this month, the organization’s headquarters sent a letter to the school district to request an investigation.
“I don’t want someone’s personal myth-ark enforced in the classroom,” Moore, an atheist, told the outlet.
Among the objects that Moore found objectionable were a cross hanging over a whiteboard, a poster that said “In God We Trust,” another poster that listed vices and virtues, and a picture that includes the phrase “God bless America.”
“The district violates the Constitution when it allows its schools to display religious symbols or messages. Public schools may not advance, prefer or promote religion,” the letter from FFRF read. “[The teacher’s] religious classroom decorations violate this basis constitutional prohibition by creating the appearance that the district prefers religion over non-religion, and Christianity over all faiths.”
“This religious display is particularly inappropriate given that about 38% of Americans born after 1987 are not religious,” it asserted. “The display alienates those nonreligious students, families, teachers, and members of the public whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.”
The organization requested assurance that the displays would be removed from the classroom, in addition to a response to other concerns that include alleged field trips by some schools in the district to Timber-Lee Christian Center.
According to Moore, the teacher has removed the posters and cross in light of FFRF’s letter. Read the letter in full here. The district has not commented on the matter except to state that it is under investigation.
“The district is aware of the allegations and is working with our legal team to investigate the claims. No further details can be provided due to the pending investigation,” said Communications Director Tanya Ruder.
As previously reported, in 1806, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and vice-president of the Bible Society of Philadelphia, said, “The only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible.”
In 1828, just 41 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Noah Webster, known as the Father of American Scholarship and Education, wrote, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed. … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”