Parkersburg South High School Removes Bible Verse from Gym Wall After Atheist Group FFRF Complains
Parkersburg High School South officials painted over the verse, Philippians 4:13– “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”– after receiving a letter from the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).
The Bible verse also appeared on wrestling team t-shirts and was the squad’s motto. The team had been wearing the shirts since the 1990s, WSAZ reports.
FFRF attorney told TheNewsCenter that a member of the Parkersburg community complained about the unconstitutional religious display.
In writing to the school, FFRF did not threaten to sue, but rather pointed out that the Supreme Court has backed the removal of such state endorsements of religion in the past.
“We needed to point out the obvious fact that this cannot be a team’s motto, that this is unconstitutional for a public school to endorse or advance religion,” said Elliot.
Many Parkersburg South students and local residents were saddened and angered by the removal of what some called inspirational words of faith.
“If it inspires youth to be a part of something, to be part of a team, to be part of an organization, if it inspires them to be better, I don’t see why it’s such a big deal that, okay, this one happens to come from the Bible,” Jayme Fife told TheNewsCenter.
Brad Woodburn, owner of Rubin’s Deli in downtown Parkersburg, posted a sign in the business’ window reading, “HEY WISCONSIN, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.”
“Stand up for the kids, that’s what it’s about,” Woodburn told TheNewsCenter. “And if a few choose to want to have that on their shirt, that’s fine. It wasn’t forced or anything.”
Supporters of the display took heart in the announcement that the social club Fellowship of Christian Athletes was approved by school officials last Thursday.