W. Va. School Removes Bible Verse after Complaint

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A West Virginian school removed a Bible verse from its premises after complaints from the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The Parkerburg South High School wrestling team used Philippians 4:13 as their motto: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

The verse was over the entrance to the wrestling room in the gym and on the team's website and t-shirts.

But FFRF attorney Patrick Elliot said public schools cannot endorse religion.

"We needed to point out the obvious fact that this cannot be a team's motto, that this is unconstitutional for a public school to endorse or advance religion," Elliott told West Virginia TV station WTAP. "And so that was our letter to the superintendent on April 11 about that being the team's motto."

Bill Merriman, an attorney representing one of the wrestlers and his parents, viewed the matter differently.

"The process is a person can wear and express themselves in any manner and the speech is protected as long as it isn't a disruption to the educational process," Merriman said.

"If it becomes disruptive to the educational process then that freedom of speech and expression is prohibited and our position is these individual student athletes have the right to express themselves and that this is not a disruptive position to the educational process," he added.

Nevertheless, the county superintendent said the verse over the doors has been painted over and it's been removed from the team's website, which is linked to the school's website.

"We asked them to take it down," Charisma quoted Pat Law, the superintendent of the Wood County School District. "We have to follow the law -- whatever that law might be. We're going to be certain that everyone's rights are being protected."

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