See The Photo That Atheists Are Demanding Be Removed From Oklahoma Middle School [Photo]

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to the Putnam County School District in Oklahoma in regards to a photo that was hanging in the Kenneth Cooper Middle School office. The photo in question is titled “Faith in America,” and was created by artist Donald Zolan. What is so offensive in the photo that it warrants a “constitutional violation,” according to the organization? The image features two children, a boy and girl, in front of an American flag with their hands clasp in prayer.

Atheists demand photo be removed from Putnam Oklahoma school
Image of the controversial photo that is hanging in the Kenneth Cooper Middle School in Putnam, Oklahoma.

According to the FFRF, the image is against the constitution because it does not separate the church from the state.

“The meaning could not be more clear, real American children pray.”

The group notes that the judicial system has repeatedly held that school systems may not display religious messages or iconography. The FFRF believes the “Faith in America” image would qualify as a religious message. The message sent from FFRF to the school district goes on to warn that even if the children were not praying in the photo, having the hands clasped is enough to violate protected rights of the students and families attending the school.

The school responded to the FFRF letter, and explained that the photo will not be removed from the office. The school claims that though the photo is titled “Faith in America,” the text does not appear anywhere on the photo, and is not denoted anywhere on the wall where the photo is hanging. The school also notes that clasped hands are not a sectarian symbol. Clasped hands can denote prayer, but in many cultures also denotes silent meditation or obedience. Therefore, the image of clasped hands is not specifically a religious symbol.

The school ended the letter by informing FFRF they will not be removing the photo. FFRF did not agree with the school’s assessment, and sent a follow-up letter outlining that courts will disagree with the school on the religious nature of the photo. A second request to remove the photo was made.

In another religious incident in a public school that made national headlines, a group of high school cheerleaders refused to uphold a ban on school prayer. The team continued to pray during “moment of silence.”

To date, the photo still hangs in the Putnam Kenneth Cooper Middle School. Do you think the photo violates the constitutional right of separation of church and state?

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