“We are taking a stand for the lord,” Joey Ketchum, a district parent and local Baptist pastor, told Fox Carolina regarding the protesting students at Ridgewood Middle School in West Shreveport.
The brouhaha began last week, after the ACLU Louisiana wrote an open letter to Caddo Parish superintendent Theodis Lamar Goree regarding official religious statements that had allegedly been made by the principal of another district school, Walnut Hill Elementary.
The principal, said the letter, dated March 30, “has engaged in a pattern of religious proselytization by sending messages to parents invoking prayer, and through a lengthy ‘Principal’s Message’ on the school’s website,” which the ACLU noted is in violation of the First Amendment and U.S. Constitution. “The United States Constitution requires public schools to ensure that state-supported activity is not used for religious indoctrination,” the letter continued. “There is no question that the Principal has violated these legal mandates by repeatedly invoking God, prayer, and Christianity throughout official school publications.” The correspondence urged the principal to stop, for the district to look into the situation, and to “immediately remove all religious references from the website of Walnut Hills and any other schools in the Caddo Parish school district.”
That, apparently, is when Ridgewood removed “In God We Trust” from its marquee — even though the phrase has been ruled as constitutional in many court cases, including a year ago, when a group of atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation lost a court fight to have it removed from U.S. currency. The decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit referenced many past decisions upholding the use of the phrase, noting, “The Court has recognized in a number of its cases that the motto, and its inclusion in the design of U.S. currency, is a ‘reference to our religious heritage,’” adding that “the printing of ‘In God We Trust’ on our coins serve the secular purposes of solemnizing public occasions, expressing confidence in the future and encouraging the recognition of what is worthy of appreciation in society.” (Read more from “Middle Schoolers Rally to Get Religious Message Back on School Sign” HERE)