Religious symbol at ETX school sparks legal debate - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Religious symbol at ETX school sparks legal debate

LARUE, TX (KLTV) -

Achieving victory through strength was the lesson at LaPoynor ISD’s Fellowship of Christian Athlete's meeting this afternoon, after a request that a symbol of their faith be removed from school grounds.

"Our community, whether it be the staff, parents, and the kids, all have a strong Christian belief,” says Jason Foster, a former LaPoynor student and current parent. “I believe the flag represents a majority of the people here."

On October 11, LaPoynor ISD, located in LaRue, received a letter from Sam Grover, associate council for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for the separation between religion and government.

"The school district flying a Christian flag, promoting Christian events on its social media accounts or on its web page, is violating the establishment clause of the first amendment,” says Grover. “Which prohibits the government from promoting one religion over another or religion generally over non-religion."

The flag was put on campus in April, a decision made by LaPoynor's superintendent who is also a local pastor. Several community members want it to stay.

"We respect everybody else's religion,” says Foster. “We shouldn't be told by a small handful of people just because they don't like it that we have to remove it."

The FFRF also argues that the district's Facebook promotion of ‘See You at the Pole’, a moment of prayer held by the FCA, is also illegal, but, Shaine Snyder, the group's parent liaison, doesn't see how.

“It's free social media, it’s not bought or paid for by the state or by the district,” says Snyder. “See You At the Pole is a national phenomenon, it’s done before school hours, it’s student-led, no one’s forced to go.”

The FFRF says the district will be exposing themselves to significant liability if the flag is not taken down.

“FFRF has no problem with individuals within the community expressing their own religious beliefs, however they see fit,” says Grover. “It’s only when the government is promoting religion that we have a constitutional violation, which is the case here.”

The district says the letter will be discussed at Thursday night's school board meeting, but for now, the flag remains.

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