Church sues school board over censorship

By Ron Strom

A church has filed suit against a North Carolina school board and principal after a middle school refused to approve a church-sponsored sign for its athletic field that included a Bible verse.

Oxford Baptist Church of Oxford, N.C., had hoped to participate in a school fund-raiser. The school district had encouraged local supporters of the school – businesses, nonprofits and other organizations – to purchase signs for display at the school’s athletic field for a cost of $300. According to the Alliance Defense Fund, which has filed the suit on the church’s behalf, the church chose a sign with a Scripture verse it thought would be appropriate for a sports venue: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” I Corinthians 10:31.

River Bend Middle School, however, rejected the church’s offer to participate in the fund-raiser.

“The school’s action is another example of how people of faith suffer from the notion that religious speech should be censored,” said Benjamin W. Bull, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund and lead attorney for the church, in a statement. “The school district doesn’t want mere separation of church and state. It wants the segregation of church and state.”

Continued Bull: “The school board has no right to censor the church’s sign. There are absolutely no constitutional grounds for the principal or the school board to segregate the church and its speech from the forum of the athletic field. We are challenging this prohibition of religious speech as an unconstitutional violation of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Scottie Houston is principal of River Bend Middle School and named in the suit. He refused to discuss the matter with WorldNetDaily.

‘I’m not going to be able to talk to you about this,” he said, referring WND to the superintendent’s office of the Catawba County School District.

Said Sonya Gordon, public information officer for the district, “We don’t really have a comment. It’s a legal issue.” Gordon promised that the district’s attorney would have a public statement available sometime in the future.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina last week.

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