The Freedom From Religion Foundation has demanded that a painting entitled “Faith in America” be taken down from an Oklahoma middle school. The print by artist Donald Zolan features two children that have their hands clasped apparently in prayer with an American flag in the background.
The print has hung in the office of Kenneth Cooper Middle School for 18 years.
Andrew Seidel of the FFRF wrote to Putnam County Schools superintendent Fred Rhodes, ordering that the picture be removed. “The meaning could not be more clear, real American children pray," Seidel wrote.
The school district says that they will not remove the print, as it does not endorse any specific religion.
Speaking on behalf of the Putnam County School district, attorney Anthony Childers said, "To date, the district has not received any complaint from any resident, student or patron of the district who believes that the image conveys an improper religious message. We cannot agree that the poster displayed in the office is a per se violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.
"Though, as you've pointed out, the title given to the artwork by the original artist is labeled 'Faith in America', there is no text displayed with the poster which imputes the artist's intent, theme, or title.
"We believe that a neutral viewer of the poster would not find that the image attempts to proselytize or promote any particular faith, and does not create coercive pressure on students who may see the image.
"…At this time, we do not believe that the image violates the Establishment Clause and the District will not agree to remove the image from its office.”
Publication date: October 9, 2014