A West Virginia middle school is refusing to cave to the demands of a national atheist group threatening to sue the school if they don’t remove angels etched into the stone memorial of a beloved late teacher.
FoxNews.com is reporting on the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation which is demanding that officials at the Ravenswood Middle School remove the angels that are part of a memorial erected on the school grounds. The school has already removed the crosses from the site, but are refusing to budge another inch to the demands of the group.
According to a letter sent to the school by the Foundation, the crosses and the angels are a violation of the separation of church and state.
“The First Amendment mandates that schools cannot advance or promote religion, so that’s what this display is doing,” said Patrick Elliott, a staff attorney with the Foundation.
The locals don’t see it this way. Instead, this is a memorial erected in honor of Joann Christy, a teacher at the school who died in a tragic car accident in 2004 after serving the school for 26 years. Her family and the local community decided to remember her with an engraved stone memorial which was erected near the school’s entrance.
“There’s so many kids that came through this school that were affected by her death, that were affected by her teachings, and now we’re just trying to keep her memory alive here,” Tracy Sadecky, a family friend, told WSAZ.
The family agreed to remove the crosses, but the angels stay because they’re not just religious symbols, they say, but are a representation of who Christy was.
“She collected them [angels], she had them in her classroom, she had them in her house, so it’s something we thought would be a great addition,” Sadecky said.
WSAZ asked the Foundation if there might be room for compromise.
“If there is an angel, that is more so a representative of that particular person. I’m not sure there would be a legal issue with that,” said Elliott.
Interestingly, WSAZ points out that the atheist group has no problem whatsoever with the school’s mascot – a red devil.
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