NC School District Wants Segregation of Church and State
CATAWBA COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA - A Baptist church trying to participate in a fund raiser for a local school found that helping the school came with a price: censorship.
The district encouraged school supporters – such as tire dealers, security companies, as well as other churches – to purchase signs for public display on an athletic field. Oxford Baptist Church wanted a Bible verse on its sign, and it chose one it thought provided a Christian perspective on sports. However, the school refused a sign with the New Testament text: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God," I Corinthians 10:31.
Instead of accepting this shabby, unconstitutional treatment, the church decided to contest the school’s decision.
The church contacted the Alliance Defense Fund, a national ministry based in Scottsdale, Arizona. The mission of the Alliance Defense Fund is to protect and defend religious freedom, traditional family values, and the sanctity of human life. It is unique because it not only provides legal representation, but also supports the legal efforts of its allied groups.
The Alliance Defense Fund, on behalf of the Oxford Baptist Church, has sued the Catawba County School Board and a middle school principal in federal court.
"The school’s action is another example of how people of faith suffer from the notion that religious speech should be censored," said Benjamin W. Bull, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund and lead attorney for the Oxford Baptist Church. "The school district doesn’t want mere separation of church and state. It wants the segregation of church and state," Bull said.
"The school board has no right to censor the church’s sign. There are absolutely no constitutional grounds for the principal or the school board to segregate the church and its speech from the forum of the athletic field. We are challenging this prohibition of religious speech as an unconstitutional violation of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment."
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina against the Catawba County School Board of Education, and Scottie Houston, the principal of River Bend Middle School.