East Texas students fight back after Wisconsin anti-Christian group attacks their freedom of speech
MT. VERNON, Texas (Christian Examiner) -- The Mount Vernon Independent School District in East Texas is under fire from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a small anti-Christian organization in Wisconsin, over t-shirts and other artwork that have religious themes.
But local KLTV7 reports that some students are firing back at the FFRF, defending their freedom of expression and religion.
"I don't see anything wrong with it, because it's on the wall. It's up high; you can choose to look at it. You can choose if you want to believe it," 13-year-old student Nathan Smith told KLTV7.
Mount Vernon High School student Cesia Posadas said, "I just think it's ridiculous! Because we have rights too, and I don't think it offends anybody or affects anybody. It's not like they're forced to look at it."
The area's NBC affiliate, KETK, reported that the complaint cited various offenses across the district including crosses on a kindergarten teacher's wall, a high school Spanish teacher's New Testament display of "Bible Verses for Teachers," and religious quotes painted in hallways of multiple schools.
FFRF also challenged the district's "FAITH – Family – TIGERS" t-shirts, available for purchase. The shirts replace the letter "t" with a cross in the word "Faith."
The FFRF letter, which was provided via email Nov. 3 and by hard copy Nov. 4, stated: 'We have rarely seen such a collection of egregious state/church violations in one school district. This is religion run amok, targeting a captive audience of young students, including elementary school students. All of these religious mottos, symbols, posters, bible verses and Christian t-shirts should be removed immediately."
The complaint also recommended educating district employees of their obligation to remain neutral toward religion under the Establishment Clause.
Mount Vernon Superintendent John Kaufman says he was shocked at the list of grievances.
"It did surprise me, as I continued to read on the letter, I felt that they were kind of grasping at straws, voicing several complaints against the school district," Kaufman told KLTV. He noted that many students are wearing t-shirts with religious symbols or messages as a protest.
Kaufman told KLTV7 the school has "well over 100 quotes throughout our school district that were taken from historical perspectives -- from Doctor Seuss, to Martin Luther King, to Mohammed."
FFRF has sent letters across the nation complaining of anything with religious connotations.
Kaufman said students have just carried on.
"I'm extremely proud of them. Throughout this whole ordeal, students, teachers and parents are going to stand up for what they believe in," Kaufman said.