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E. Texas students respond to group's religious expression challenge

Published: Nov. 5, 2014 at 11:33 PM CST|Updated: Apr. 17, 2015 at 5:44 AM CDT
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MOUNT VERNON, TX (KLTV) - Some East Texas students are answering back to a group's challenge over religious expression on campus.

Last week Mount Vernon ISD received a complaint from the 'Freedom from Religion Foundation' that says the district is knowingly allowing 'religious endorsement' on its school campuses.

Students say they feel the complaint is an attack on their religious freedom.

Mount Vernon Superintendent John Kaufman says he could not believe the communication he got from the Freedom from Religion Foundation last Friday.

"It did surprise me, as I continued to read on the letter, I felt that they were kind of grasping at straws, voicing several complaints against the school district," Kaufman says.

The FFRF stated: 'We have rarely seen such a collection of egregious state/church violations in one school district. This is religion run amok, targeting a captive audience of young students, including elementary school students. All of these religious mottos, symbols, posters, bible verses and Christian t-shirts should be removed immediately,' referencing crosses and inspirational quotes, some biblical verses and others from historical figures.

"We have well over 100 quotes throughout our school district that were taken from historical perspectives. From Doctor Seuss, to Martin Luther King, to Mohammed," says Kaufman.

The groups objections are to anything that has religious connotation inside a school. But it is the students themselves who say they should have that last word.

"I don't see anything wrong with it, because it's on the wall. It's up high; you can choose to look at it. You can choose if you want to believe it," says 13-year-old student Nathan Smith.

"I just think it's ridiculous! Because we have rights too, and I don't think it offends anybody or affects anybody. It's not like they're forced to look at it," says Mount Vernon high student Cesia Posadas.

In a form of counter protest, many of the students continue to wear t-shirts with religious symbols or messages.

"I'm extremely proud of them. Throughout this whole ordeal, students, teachers and parents are going to stand up for what they believe in," Kaufman says.

The quotes and t-shirts have not been banned by the district.

They are going about day-to-day business while the district prepares a response to the complaints, which will be released at a later date.

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