I live in the south. I recently saw a display listing three values posted on a wall in my daughter's new school that disturbed me greatly. However, I know that the word "faith" is vague enough that I probably don't have much ground to stand on. However, it really bothers me. Not only does it bother me because it veiled attempt to interject religion, but I am against the idea of learning about the world through "Faith." I want to bring it to the attention of the principal and the superintendent with the hope that they will remove it. 


Has anyone else dealt with a similar situation? If so, can you tell me what happened? 

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I've had to speak with the local principal on a few of occasions. A first grade teacher led the class in prayer during lunch.  Then, over two consecutive school years, they used instructional time to introduce the kids to the Boy Scouts.  I had to really come down hard on him that second year to get him to stop. 


In both cases I had clear violations, and I was successful getting action from the school.  The situation with the Boy Scouts was more a case of the principal being uninformed and marginally concerned.  The teacher who led the class in prayer was reprimanded and eventually chose to retire.


I have spoken with my children about "faith," especially in the context of their mother's beliefs.  Most people, however, have redefined "faith" in such a way as to make it innocuous, and I doubt you'll get a positive response from the school.  Since it can be understood in a context outside of religion, I don't think that they are obligated to remove it (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith).

I agree that I probably don't have any grounds to force anything. But I still think it's inappropriate even without thinking about religion because I believe that understanding anything requires evidence, not faith. So, even without the religious aspect it bothers me that this is the students' educational foundation. It's no wonder so few scientists come out of our county.

I don't like it. But you are probably correct that I can't do much.
Can you tell me more about what happened with the boy scouts? Was there boy scout meetings during school hours or something?

The principal had allowed the Scouts to host a large presentation during school hours in the cafeteria for a number of grades.  They were not free to use the school facilities during instructional time.  It would have been an issue even if the Scouts weren't a religious organization, but that made it much worse.

The principal was initially not aware that the Scouts were a religious organization that actively discriminated against non-theists (among others).  I provided documentation from relevant court cases and informed him I wouldn't hesitate to pursue the issue further via the ACLU. 

Glad you got it straightened out for the future of the school.

Why would it have been an issue even if the scouts didn't have a religious aspect? Is it because they discriminate based on sexual orientation or is there something else?

Where were you able to find court cases? (I have a feeling that between now and when my daughter graduates high school, I will have a few fights with the school system)

Outside groups aren't allowed to take up instructional time, and having any organization gather students during class is not legitimate (unless, I suppose, it was for the purpose of instuction rather than membership). Below is most of the letter I sent three years ago regarding the Scouts and prayer:

On a completely different topic...  I'd like to emphasize how seriously I stand behind the civil rights which are guaranteed by our constitution.  I had meant to send some documentation regarding the Cub Scouts after our conversation last year.  The gave two presentations during instructional time, both at the end of Micheal's kindergarten year (2007-2008) and this week at the beginning of 1st grade (August 2008).  This is a religious organization, clearly stated and referenced in the Declaration of Religious Principle on page 2 of the Adult Application (which I've attached).  This issue has been addressed by the courts, and is outside the "limited public forum" created when sending folders home with students or providing access to the facility during non-instructional time a href="http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/advisory/boyscouts.html" target="_blank">http://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/advisory/boyscouts.html>. 

Since this religious presentation, by a group which discriminates in membership (agnostic, atheist, homosexual, etc), was done during instructional time, I cannot understand how it was allowed.  I have not had the time to gather all of the resources I'd hoped, so I've contacted the ACLU and they are assisting me with the material.  I had spoken with Gary S., who is in charge of the Scouts in this area, and he clearly outlined their membership guidelines.  It is a shame, since the International Scouting organization (http://www.scout.org/) does not have these discriminatory practices. 

Finally, my son told me today that his Mrs. P., his teacher, believes in God.  I asked him how he knew, and he stated that she prays with them at school.  When I asked him when he said that it was at lunchtime, before the meal.  This is such a clear violation that I don't believe I need to cite any sources, although I'd be happy to research case law and the relevant Supreme Court decision on the matter if you like. 

I am hoping that, by contact you, these issues can be addressed in a way which doesn't embarrass my son and reinforces his constitutional rights.  I respect his teacher's right to believe whatever she likes (on her time and outside of the school's venue), and I'd like to avoid any unnecessary complications.  Besides the referenced issues I've been impressed by (the school), the teachers, and staff.

Thank you for your time,
Mark G


His reply:

Mr. G.,
Thank you for letting me know about these two issues.  The first, I do remember from last year, and the second one from this year.  I will address both within the next couple of days.  I will not be at school today, so please allow me time to address these important items and get back to you.
Also, I do appreciate your calm, thoughtful approach in addressing these issues.  I want to make sure that everyone, including your son, has the best educational setting possible in which to learn. 


Jeffery M.


Thanks. That's helpful.
All you need to do is go on wikipedia and search the BSA discrimination and you'll find a long list of predjudice
My oldest son just started Kindergarten, and there was a boy scout recruiting table at the back-to-school night. It was mildly annoying. But then he came home with a stack of flyers ranging in dance classes and karate places. Among them was a full page flyer for the boy scouts. That prompted me to e-mail the principal and educate him with sources of the BSA's long history of intolerance and exclusion. This was 2 weeks ago and I have not heard back from him.

It's unfortunate that he seems to be just ignoring you and hoping you go away. You could always contact the superintendent and see if you have any better luck. They may be within their legal rights (?) but they could at least acknowledge your concerns. I think it's rude. 


Not only does it irritate me that schools are distributing flyers about events and organizations that break down critical thinking, tolerance, and other things schools claim to promote, but what a waste of trees and energy. In today's day and age, I would think that this information could be put out on Facebook or other website. Yes, not everyone is online and I guess that is the argument against it. But it still bothers me. Even if people recycle the paper (and I doubt it, I know very few people who bother to recycle flyers that get sent home besides me) it still seems like a waste of energy. 

I can't remember what else it said. It's been over a month since I saw it but it's been bugging me. I remember it had 3 words listed. They sounded like values. I remember thinking the other to were very appropriate for a school but that one was very inappropriate.

I agree with others that when I see the word faith, standing alone, I immediately think faith in god.

What if you started off by emailing the principal to clarify what is meant by "faith" on the display without making a complaint? Depending on the response you can take it from there to suggest a more appropriate value for the display.




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