Taking a stand for religious freedom and time honored traditions, parents and students at the Ridgewood Middle School in West Shreveport planned demonstrations to keep the words “In God We Trust” on the school’s marquee before being notified by school officials that the change would not take place as planned.
One such demonstration involved students at the school who held a lunchtime rally where organizers distributed 500 T-shirts bearing the iconic phrase to attendees.
The storm erupted last month with a dispute at another school within the Caddo Parish where one unnamed individual filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against Albert Hardison, principal at the Walnut Hill Middle School, and his practice of including prayers in school communications.
The litigation threat by the ACLU against the school system prompted Mr. Hardison to remove all references to God or religion of any kind from announcements, official documents and websites maintained by the Caddo Parish School District – including the phrase “In God We Trust” from the marquee in front of the Ridgewood Middle School.
After further review by attorney’s representing the school district, school officials were given the go ahead to keep the phrase with the caveat that subsequent litigation could result in the removal of “In God We Trust” from the school front at a later date.
The push back began when 40 student members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) enlisted the help of Pastor and parent Joey Ketchum who organized the rally and the T-shirt giveaway at the school.
Pastor Ketchum contacted station KSLA 12 to discuss the controversy after being notified by school officials that the phrase would stay on the schools marquee. In an interview with Ketchum in front of the sign, he told KSLA:
“I’m so thrilled because that is such a victory for our students. They wanted to take a stand and they did and we’re so thrilled to death that their voice was heard loud and clear.”
Anyone familiar with the legal tactics used by the ACLU and their “deep pocket” ability to drive up the litigation costs of targets that refuse to yield to the organization’s demands – regardless of the merits of a case – know that the school’s victory may be short lived.