Arkansas school removes Bible quotes from choir room following complaint from atheist group

(Pixabay/sferrario1968)Representative image: A school in Arkansas has removed posters containing Bible verses from its choir room following a complaint from an atheist group.

A school in Arkansas has decided to take down posters containing Bible verses and Gospel quotes after receiving a complaint a Wisconsin-based atheist organization.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a complaint letter to the superintendent of the Searcy School District in November, asserting that the display of the posters at the Searcy High School choir room is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The signs reportedly displayed several Bible verses, including: "Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19); "Love binds us together in perfect harmony" (Colossians 3:14); and "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God" (Psalm 42:1).

"The district violates the Constitution when it allows schools to display religious symbols or messages. Public schools may not advance, prefer, or promote religion," the FFRF wrote, according to Christian News Network.

The organization contended that the posters alienate students, families and teachers who are not religious as well as members of the public who hold religious beliefs that are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the school.

The FFRF asked the school to take down the Bible-themed displays and called on the district to "remind its employees of their constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion" and ensure that its schools do not have displays containing religious messages.

In a press release on Monday, the FFRF announced that it received a letter from Superintendent Diane Barrett indicating that the posters are no longer displayed in the Searcy High School choir room.

"A music room should not be a place of discord. We're pleased that the school has taken action to ensure that student chorus members of minority faiths and no religion feel equally welcomed," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement.

Searcy grad Savanna Moore, who spent four years all four years of high school performing in the school's choir, expressed disappointment with the removal of the posters.

"It kind of hurts my heart," she said, explaining that being in the choir was the highlight of her time there. "I would not wanted to be anywhere else in the school, [choir] was my favorite time of the day," she added.

Moore said that religious references were the norm during her time in the choir, as many songs they sang were hymns. She noted that she knew some people in the choir who did not believe in Christianity, but she has never heard a complaint about the issue.

FFRF attorney Chris McNamara said that the school administrators had reassured him that teachers have been counseled on what they should and should not display in the classroom.

Barrett had reportedly confirmed that the displays had been removed in November after the district received the first complaint letter from the atheist group.

McNamara said that the group was only recently notified about the removal of the displays after he sent the district a follow-up memo at the end of January.

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