North Texas High School Backtracks on Censorship of ‘Jesus’
A North Texas high school backtracked on its censoring of the word “Jesus” Wednesday after a demand letter from First Liberty Institute, a non-profit religious freedom law firm.
The controversy began in September when Wess Jones, owner of a small boat repair company called 1st Choice Marine of Flower Mound, Texas, made a donation to sponsor Flower Mound High School’s (FMHS) fishing club. In return, his company logo was supposed to be featured on the club’s jerseys and website.
But the high school refused to display 1st Choice Marine’s slogan, which is a part of the logo. The slogan reads, “It’s not about us, it’s all about Jesus.”
The club’s coach emailed Jones and admitted that while he personally appreciated the message behind the slogan, “the administration says that I cannot use the slogan with the logo as we are a public school and it would put us in real hot water.”
Since the club needed to print the jerseys quickly, Jones agreed to let FMHS temporarily use the logo without the slogan, but noted that he thought FMHS was wrong on the issue, replying, “1st Choice Marine is my company and is not affiliated with the school just like other sponsors are not. I believe the administration is confused on how public schools are protected by religious freedom laws.”
Jones added that he would research the issue, and that if it was resolved, he’d like 1st Choice Marine’s slogan to be included on the logo the next year.
Rather than printing 1st Choice Marine’s logo and omitting the slogan, however, the school created and used an entirely new logo without Jones’s consent.
Jones retained First Liberty Institute as legal counsel, which sent a demand letter to FMHS on October 19.
“[I]mpermissibly altering the logo of 1st Choice Marine to remove all religious viewpoints expressed while accepting secular speech, lacks the neutrality required of state actors and violates the First Amendment,” the letter read.
In the letter, First Liberty Deputy Chief Counsel Hiram Sasser asked that the new logo immediately be removed and replaced with 1st Choice Marine’s actual logo, and that the correct logo would appear on the club’s jerseys in future years.
The high school responded within six hours, a First Liberty Institute press release reported, agreeing to the requirements in the demand letter. “The District will not further interfere in which logos or sponsorships the FMHS Bass Club chooses to accept,” FMHS said in a statement.
Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute, says the school set a good example through their quick response.
“We are grateful to Flower Mound High School for taking swift action to correct this situation,” Dys said. “They are a great example to school districts everywhere of how to work with parents and children to ensure that First Amendment freedoms are protected in school.”