A public school located in North Carolina has removed Bible verses from the back of student planners provided by a local church. School officials said they had no choice but to cut out the verses, due to the “separation between church and state.”
Sulphur Springs Baptist Church in the northwest town of Hiddenite spent $2,000 printing planners for East Alexander Middle School students. The church engraved two Bible verses on the lower back cover of the planners. While available for all students, the planners were not mandatory.
Associate Pastor of Youth and Children James Safrit explained to The Christian Post that he decided to donate the planners after talking to EAMS Principal Kristie Love over the summer. He said he always contacts the school at the beginning of the year to “ask them if there’s anything that we can do to help them.”
“I called the middle school, talked to the principal, and she had a couple of requests… for the school,” Safrit said. He said the principal requested “flash drives for every student to transport work back and forth” as well as the planners.
Principal Love told Safrit the church could do “whatever we wanted because we were providing them.” Church leaders decided to print Philippians 4:13 and Jeremiah 29:11 on the back covers.
While Safrit said he didn’t ask Principal Love about adding the verses, he didn’t think the addition would make any real impact. “It wasn’t a mandatory gift for every kid. It was just provided if they wanted it,” he said.
Just prior to distributing the planners, school officials cut out the Bible verse, leaving a portion of the back covers missing. The Alexander County School District defended its decision to remove the verses.
“It is an individual student’s right to share their beliefs, but not the public school’s role to indoctrinate them with any religious teachings,” the district said in a statement.
Alexander County Schools Executive Director Alisha Cloer told local reporters the “separation between church and state” prevented the school from handing out the planners with Scripture printed on them. “We can’t break the law,” she added.
Sulphur Springs responded to the school’s removal of the verses in a Facebook post published last week.
“As a church we understood we could provide planners for EAMS and could print our logo and an uplifting message. We realize there was a misunderstanding on our part as well as on Principal Love’s part,” the post reads.
“We had no intentions of hurting our relationship with EAMS by putting the 2 Bible verses on the back of the planner. Sulphur Springs Baptist Church and EAMS are on the same team helping our communities in whatever way we can. We love Alexander County and the EAMS community,” the statement concluded.