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ICC Note: Following a letter of complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Virginia elementary school has taken down a plaque from its cafeteria. The plaque in question displayed a prayer, thanking God for the food, which the FFRF claimed was unconstitutional because it appeared as though the school favored Christianity more than other faiths. Although months went by before the school responded, the superintendent contacted the FFRF in late August, noting that the plaque had been removed.

By Heather Clark

09/07/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – 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.”


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