COMMUNITY FIGHTS BACK: Atheists Attempt to Rip Out Dedication Plaques with a Religious Reference at Schools!

September 5, 2014

How did two long-standing dedication plaques with a religious reference for their respective schools end up scheduled for removal—and even covered over with duct tape? 

First, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to the Midlothian, Texas ISD complaining of the plaques.  They were irritated that the plaques, which had hung for almost two decades, had a religious message and could be seen by students at two elementary schools in one of America’s largest metro areas.

The plaques, emblazoned with the “offensive” words “Dedicated . . . to the education of God’s Children and to their teachers in the Name of the of the Holy Christian Church Soli Deo Gloria,” have been affixed to the school buildings for the past seventeen years, but only recently became the subject of a freedom of speech debate.

Second, upon receiving a complaint letter from FFRF, the Midlothian, Texas ISD decided not to fight a legal battle over a potential First Amendment violation and risk losing education dollars in litigation against FFRF, and instead chose to cover the plaques with duct tape early last week.  The school district felt it did not have any choice because if it lost in court against FFRF, it would have to pay costly fees and expenses incurred by FFRF in bringing the lawsuit.

Community Rallies Strong

The men and women of Midlothian, however, would not tolerate what FFRF was trying to do to their schools.  A Facebook protest group called “Bring Back the Plaque” was started, which has grown to over 6,000 members strong. More than 150 parents and advocates also gathered for an impromptu prayer rally at Mountain Peak Elementary School determined to stand for free speech in their schools. And dozens more gathered at the Midlothian ISD Administration building in protest in the following days.

Waves of individuals also rallied a call for legal action, and Liberty Institute has engaged with approximately 8,200 members of the Midlothian community through numerous social media posts and messages.

with the support of the community, the school district changes course

Then, on last Thursday, the plaques were uncovered by an anonymous activist, and the school district commendably stated that the plaques will remain uncovered, and plans to remove the plaques have been halted pending further review.  Liberty Institute stands by the courageous decision of the school district to protect free speech and religious liberty rights of students and community members.

Our Director of Strategic Litigation, Hiram Sasser, often sought by media as an expert in religious liberty, applauded the decision of the school board to allow the plaques to stay, and said Liberty Institute’s preliminary investigation led to the finding that “the school district created a limited public forum for plaques relating to the topic of the building dedication.  The plaque at issue is thus private speech, and the First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring private speech simply because of its religious viewpoint.  We congratulate the Midlothian ISD on their courage and their desire to follow the Constitution.”

law says Private Speech and Schools do mix!

The issue at stake in this instance—private speech at a public school—is one of increasing frequency in our courtrooms and school boards.  The Kountze ISD Cheerleader case is still underway, after almost two years of hard-fought litigation.

In a similar situation to the Midlothian “Duct Tape” controversy, the cheerleaders in Kountze, Texas schools put inspirational Bible passages on football game displays that were clearly their own private speech, and thus lawful. 

“Many people wrongly assume,” said Sasser, “that religious speech in a government school during school hours or activities is somehow a government endorsement of a religious message.  But quite often, it’s just not true.  Students and, in many cases, educators have more religious freedom than they think.  It’s important that students, parents and educators know their rights and exercise them—and not be bullied into forfeiting them.  Knowledge and courage are the twin pillars of religious freedom, and Liberty Institute is here to help.”

Like the community in Midlothian, citizens and students from Kountze rallied in support of First Amendment freedoms in the school system, but the road to victory is often long.  The case is now before the Texas Supreme Court.  A victory in Kountze could mean landmark precedent for protection of free speech in the schools—a precedent that would protect communities like the residents of Midlothian, and the countless victims of religious liberty violations who remain silent nationwide.


Your help is crucial to continuing a legal defense for religious liberty and the First Amendment.  Liberty Institute fights hard, and succeeds over 90% of the time in the local, state, and federal courts, but we can’t do it alone.

Please, continue to pray that Liberty Institute’s constitutional attorneys are equipped with the proper tactics and wisdom to defend our First Freedom.  And please also consider supporting Liberty Institute with a financial gift today, that we might have the resources necessary to fight the difficult and expensive legal battles necessary to maintain our religious freedom in America.

Other stories:

Freedom From Religion Foundation Tries to Drive Out Religious Expression from Two Florida School Districts

Hero. Role. Model. Champion of Freedom.

About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit

Social Facebook Social Instagram Twitter X Icon | First Liberty Institute Social Youtube Social Linkedin

Terms of UsePrivacy PolicyState DisclosuresSitemap • © 2024 Liberty Institute® is a trademark of First Liberty Institute