Prayer protest held over Midlothian school plaques

MIDLOTHIAN -- Midlothian Independent School District parents protested Thursday with prayer against the district's decision to remove two plaques from schools because someone complained they violated separation of church and state.

A group of about 150 parents showed up at Don Floyd Memorial Stadium across the street from the district's administration building Thursday morning.

The district scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday to update parents on its position after two days of peaceful protests over the displays. Wednesday night a similar number of parents held a prayer rally outside Long Branch Elementary School.

In a statement released earlier this week, district officials said the staff attorney recommended removing the plaques to avoid a legal challenge.

The two plaques, one at Long Branch Elementary and the other at Mt. Peak Elementary, were placed at their respective schools back in 1997.

The one outside Long Branch Elementary has Christian crosses and reads as follows:

"To the education of God's children and to their faithful teachers in the name of the holy Christian Church."

Someone lodged a complaint with the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and the group sent a letter to the district in June indicating that the plaques were unconstitutional. The district's attorney, John Hardy, responded in July.

Ken Thompson attended the Thursday morning protest. He said he was on the school board when the plaques were approved. He said the person who objected to them should have brought their concerns to the community.

"They should have addressed the board if they wanted it gone," said Thompson. "I don't like someone from Wisconsin saying what Texas needs to do."

Thompson said back then, the district's attorneys approved the plaques' placement at the schools.

Several protestors said that because the majority of people in Midlothian are Christians, that alone should determine whether the plaques stay or go. Some challenged FFRP to sue and said they would support the district if a legal battle were necessary.


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