School Removes Cafeteria Plaque Thanking God for Food After Atheist Complaint
An elementary school in Virginia, United States has removed a plaque from its cafeteria that thanks God for food following a complaint from an atheist organization.
The plaque 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.”
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, who remained anonymous.
FFRF believed and asserted that the prayer on the plaque 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 advocacy group also argued 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.
Recently, 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.”