The superintendent of a Texas school district recently criticized by “Friendly Atheist” Hemant Mehta and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for allowing a principal to recite Bible verses under the guise of a “Thought for the Day” announcement struck back on Tuesday with a blog post in which he declared that he would do nothing to stop the practice.
In the blog post, White Oak Independent School District Superintendent Michael Gilbert said that he was aware that White Oak High School Principal Dan Noll read scripture over the intercom every morning, but then asserted that he “will not pursue any action against our High School Principal or any other member of our faculty/staff concerning this issue.”
He argued that the FFRF should be ignored because of how few members it has, writing “this is an attempt to draw us into a contest of words for the sole purpose of giving the FFRF a large amount of free press/recognition that they and their very few members (1,200 in Texas) do not deserve.”
Gilbert claimed that the daily scripture reading was not a violation of the Establishment Clause, but was in fact constitutionally protected speech, writing that “[t]here are a multitude of options to provide our students, faculty and staff the opportunity to express their First Amendment Rights as provided for in the United States Constitution.”
“Let me also be clear that we have not (in my opinion) violated anyone’s rights and/or subjected anyone to undue stress,” he continued. “Bible studies and scriptures are allowed in schools. The requirement is that the material be presented in a neutral manner. It is my position that we met that standard with the morning announcements.”
“Finally,” Gilbert concluded, “as a Christian Brother, it will not promote the values we hold so dear to assail those that disagree with the Gospel. We will state our case. We will make sure our rights are just as protected as anyone else that lives in this great country. We will continue to provide for all the needs of our students and we will do so while traveling the High Road.”
Sam Grover, an attorney for the FFRF, told KLTV that his organization hopes not to have to file a lawsuit against the district — but that it would if the morning announcements continued.
“It doesn’t matter about what the majority feels,” he said. “The constitution is designed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.”
Watch a report via KLTV below.