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article imageAtheists will sue school unless angels are removed from memorial

By Karen Graham     Feb 19, 2015 in World
Ravenswood - A West Virginia middle school is standing firm on not removing some angels etched into a memorial to a beloved teacher, despite the threats of an Atheist group to hit the school with a lawsuit on constitutional grounds.
Joann Christy served her community as a teacher for 26 years, all of them at Ravenswood Middle School in Jackson County, West Virginia. Her life came to an abrupt end in 2004 when she was killed in a car accident. Her loved ones and the community she had served so faithfully wanted to remember her for her selfless devotion to the children she had taught, so money was raised to erect a stone memorial near the entrance to the school.
From looking at the photograph of the memorial, it contains a bench with a large cement planter at either end, sitting on a slab of concrete. It looks like a secluded part of a garden, perhaps, you might even call it unobtrusive. And the memorial has sat in the same place for almost a decade — that is until an Atheist group from Wisconsin called the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), decided to see about getting rid of the memorial.
According to WSAZ NewsChannel 3 on Feb. 11, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent Jackson County School Superintendent Blaine Hess a letter citing the "serious constitutional violations" regarding religious symbols in the schools in the county. The letter referenced "multiple Latin crosses" in a garden near the school entrance, as well as angels, yes, several angels, as a matter of fact. They also cited the use of a "nativity scene" at the Ravenswood High School during a Christmas concert in December.
And in an attempt to get their point across, the FFRF cited a number of Supreme Court rulings that mandated "public schools may not advance or endorse religion." In closing, the FFRF stated: "We respectfully request that you investigate the matters at Ravenswood High School and Middle School to ensure that the school concerts and displays meet the requirements of the Constitution."
Christy's family, not wanting to cause a constitutional uproar, removed the cement crosses but left the angels because they were in memory of Christy, a devout Christian who had a collection of angel figurines. The school board had a meeting scheduled on Thursday night to discuss the memorial and nativity scene issue that had riled up the Atheist group.
A lawyer for the Wisconsin-based group told WSAZ that if the angels represented Christy, and not a religion, then there might not be a legal issue. Even still, the threat of a lawsuit by the FFRF did not sit well at all with the close-knit community.
Charles Hicks, the pastor at Christy's church, said Christy was a devoted Christian and a good person. She died after attending a Bible study meeting at the church. "It is a remembrance of who Joann Christy was," Hicks said. "And it is hard to separate the good that she did and her devotion to her Christian faith."
The number of comments on the WSAZ website when they first aired the story were all against the FFRF. One woman wrote: "This has gone on too far, too long ! Time to take the control back from atheistic extremism! Talk about social terrorism. People, freakin' get real, cut it out !!!!" Another person was a little more blunt, writing: "Atheists sure are scared of something they don't believe in, truth be told they are just dumb people who have nothing better to do than harass others."
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