A Texas school district will no longer hold its graduation ceremonies at one of the largest megachurches in the nation after the church refused to remove a cross from the sanctuary.
For more than a decade the McKinney School District held graduation ceremonies for three of its high schools in the massive sanctuary of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.
But that tradition ended abruptly after a group of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers complained about a public school system using a building that belongs to a Christian church.
“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.”
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 Claus 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.
The pastor says he does not begrudge the school district for capitulating to the demands of the out-of-town atheists.
“We know this decision is not a reflection on the good people of our community because it was substantially influenced by a small group determined to change our values in Texas by silencing free speech and restricting religious freedom,” Graham said.
Prestonwood has a storied history of opening its doors to all sorts of community events – including memorial services and funerals for police officers killed in the line of duty.
“This is the heart of our church: to serve our neighbors, no strings attached, but we do it all in the name of Jesus and we will never hide that fact,” the pastor declared.
I can’t help but wonder if the atheists and their local minions would object to police officers being memorialized inside a Baptist church?
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.
That sort of response would be expected in places like San Francisco – but not deep in the heart of Texas.