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Look Closely. Atheists Are Taking Aim at the Symbol Etched Into a School Memorial Set Up to Commemorate the Legacy of a Teacher Who Died


"The First Amendment mandates that schools cannot advance or promote religion..."

An atheist group is taking aim at a school memorial erected to commemorate the life and legacy of a teacher who was killed in an automobile accident back in 2004, claiming that certain elements of the display constitute a violation of the First Amendment.

Ravenswood Middle School in Ravenswood, West Virginia, received a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an activist group, which said that the monument, which included angels and a cross, poses "serious constitutional violations," WSAZ-TV reported.

The display, which includes a park bench and etched stones, was setup to honor Joann Christy, who taught at the school for more than 25 years, with supporters claiming that the memorial was a way to simply keep the teacher's memory alive.

But atheists say that the symbols are simply unacceptable.

"The First Amendment mandates that schools cannot advance or promote religion, so that's what this display is doing," Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Patrick Elliott told WSAZ-TV.

Christy's family did remove the crosses, but decided not to remove the angels, noting that the teacher collected them and that they are a representation of who she was; if it unclear if the angels will continue to be a sticking point for the atheist group.

"If there's an angel that's more-so representative of that particular person, then I don't know if there would be a legal issue with that," Elliot told the outlet.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation also took issue with a live nativity display that was allegedly included in a Christmas program at the school, asking Ravenswood Middle School officials to investigate both matters.

The issue will be further discussed by school leaders at a board meeting on Thursday night.

(H/T: IJReview via WSAZ-TV)

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