In their efforts to accommodate the wishes of atheists and agnostics, McKinney School District requested that Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, remove the cross from its sanctuary when holding graduation ceremonies. But the church declined, and now the school district will have to find another venue for its annual graduation exercises.
Billed as one of the largest megachurches in the nation, the school district has made use of Prestonwood’s huge sanctuary for more than a decade to hold graduation ceremonies for three of its high schools.
But then a group of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers complained, and the district tried to get the church to change.
“It was our refusal to remove the cross from view that created this cowardly decision,” Pastor Jack Graham wrote on Twitter. “It appears religious freedom is under attack at the McKinney Public Schools.”
“It is unfortunate that the McKinney Independent School District was not able to muster the backbone necessary to fight back against a small, radical group of anti-Christians.” Pastor Jack Graham
— Adam Tibbetts (@Adam_Tib) February 17, 2018
Political pundit Todd Starnes reported:
Graham said they are disappointed in the district’s decision, but the congregation does not have any regrets in refusing to remove the cross.
“We are not ashamed this happened because we would not consent to remove or cover our cross,” he said.
It should be noted that during the 13 years that Prestonwood hosted graduation ceremonies there were no altar calls or baptisms (mandatory or otherwise).
The Dallas Morning News reported that “community members” were also concerned about religious displays in classrooms at the Southern Baptist church.
In 2016, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of atheist agitators, fired off a letter to the school district complaining about the church’s “traditional Baptist symbols.”
“The Establishment Clause prohibits public schools from holding graduation ceremonies in houses of worship,” the FFRF wrote in a letter to the district.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a notorious reputation for bullying school districts – especially in areas heavily populated by Christians.
“We meet their bullying by reiterating our love and openness to our community and especially those in the McKinney School District community – many of whom attend our services by the hundreds every weekend,” Graham said.
Pastor Jack Graham says McKinney ISD’s decision to end its tradition of holding graduations at Prestonwood… https://t.co/jRzk0fQGSI
— The Christian Post (@ChristianPost) February 15, 2018