A school district in Georgia ordered the removal of anything religious, including crosses, Bibles and printed verses, in public school buildings.
The Henry County School District issued a directive to school administrators on Monday instructing them to remove “items which contain religious symbols” in the campus.
Fox News got hold of a copy of the directive given to East Lake Elementary School.
“You are hereby directed to remove all items which contain religious symbols, such as crosses, printed Bibles, angels, Bible verses, printed prayers and Biblical quotations from the common areas, hallways, classrooms and office of East Lake Elementary School,” the directive said.
It also prohibits the mention of any religious and Biblical reference in school correspondence.
“Religious and Biblical references should not be included in notes to parents, email signature lines, or any other correspondence sent on behalf of East Lake Elementary School,” it said.
As if that wasn’t enough, the school district further ordered public schools to make sure that references to “holiday parties” are aligned with the district’s policies.
“Finally, please remember that all references to holiday parties should comply with the Henry County School District’s Policy, Procedure and Practices for Holidays,” the directive noted.
In an interview, district spokesman J.D. Hardin confirmed the directive was indeed issued, but it was not supposed to be “put out with public consumption.” He said the instruction was given to “remind” school administrators of a “particular law that is in place as dictated by the federal government.”
“The Establishment Clause stipulates that the government may not promote or affiliate itself with any religious doctrine or organization. Henry County Schools is a government entity,” Hardin said.
He did not explain, however, why the mandate appeared to have singled out only one religion and did not contain instructions for other beliefs.
Hardin expounded on what is allowed and not allowed according to the school district’s directive. For example, teachers can wear jewelry with religious symbols as long as it doesn’t look too “overt,” but they cannot put a Bible on their desk.
He was not yet sure, though, what schools should do about the Bibles in the libraries.
“That’s a good question. I don’t know that we have any Bibles within our libraries,” Hardn said.
County residents met on Tuesday at the Henry County Board of Commissioners and discussed the school district’s memo.
Jenny Toney, a resident, said the mandate affects the people’s freedom of religious expression.
“Whoever is Christian, it should offend you if they take Christ out of it. If I can’t wear a cross -- my husband found this in Israel. It’s a little heart and if you’ve ever been to Israel, and walked the streets that Jesus walked, when he died for us, you should stand up for your right,” she said.
Toney urged Christians in the meeting to stand up for their faith.
“Stand up. Stand up for Christ,” she said. “If for nobody else, stand up for Christ.”
Hardin released a statement addressing the residents’ concerns and assured them the directive was not an anti-religion move.
"Henry County Schools is not anti-religion, but we are bound by the laws prohibiting the displays of religion on walls and/or public property,” he said. "We thank you for your understanding of this important issue."