White Oak High School Principal Under Fire from Freedom From Religion Foundation
White Oak High School principal Dan Noll has recently come under attack for the use of Biblical scripture during the 'Thought for the Day' portion of his morning announcements.
A student, whose identity has not been revealed, recorded Noll and sent the audio to blogger Hemant Mehta, a self-proclaimed atheist activist. The story has been picked up by American Against the Tea Party, and you can listen to recordings in the article posted by Josh Kilburn.
According to Mehta, he has contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Principal Noll. Here is the letter sent from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to White Oak ISD Superintendent Mike Gilbert.
Gilbert has released a statement in regards to the matter:
Recently, I have been contacted by two concerned residents of White Oak ISD and legal counsel from the Freedom From Religion Foundation concerning the use of scripture in the “Thought for the Day” at the high school.
The residents were offended at the use of scripture, demanding that it be stopped and calling for disciplinary action against Mr. Noll. I am fully aware of the practice at the high school and will not pursue any action against our High School Principal or any other member of our faculty/staff concerning this issue.
The letter from the FFRF is not the first received by the district. They contacted us in the fall with concerns about the practices at our football games. I have responded in accordance with their stated concerns and we have moved on.
Let me be clear, 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. This group and others like it, are wanting us to provide them with negative quotes to use in the promotion of their agenda. We can and will make the adjustments needed to ensure our students experience a morally sound, positive character based education. There 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. 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.
My recommended response to the FFRF is, “I’m sorry you feel that way. I will be praying for you and your staff daily.”
Finally, 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. Don’t get drawn into a game of words that has no “winner."
Please do not waste your time and effort on these few detractors.
The community has rallied around Noll in the past days and he is extremely grateful.
"Thank you for all the kinds words, love and support," Noll said. "I love my students and I love the staff. I never doubt where the community stands because they will always come together."
As a graduate of White Oak High School, my Facebook News Feed has been flooded with posts of support of Principal Noll, and Superintendent Gilbert's statement.
What do you think?