Another brick in the wall of separation?

By David Waters A California public school district is refusing the place on a new school campus six bricks inscribed … Continued

By David Waters

A California public school district is refusing the place on a new school campus six bricks inscribed with Bible verses. The district also is refusing to give a refund to the two women who bought and paid for the fundraising bricks.

The women who now possess the bricks sued the district this week for violating their constitutional rights to free speech, religion and masonry.

Another brick in the wall of separation?

Or a brick through the church’s stained-glass windows?

Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against and excluded from expressing their faith on public high school campuses when that door of communication is open to virtually everyone else,” David Cortman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is taking the case to court, said in a statement.

Objection, Mr. Cortman. There’s no evidence that the Desert Sands Unified School District is discriminating against Christians.

No doubt many, if not most, of the hundreds of people who purchased fundraising bricks for the new Palm Desert High School are Christians. This is America.

The verses and citations on two of the bricks were from the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalms and Proverbs), so if the district isn’t necessarily picking on Christian texts.

And the translations used on the bricks weren’t exactly word for word from King James or the King of Kings.

For example, one brick claims to carry this verse from Psalm 68:34: “TELL EVERYONE ABOUT GOD’S POWER.”

I couldn’t find that wording in any of the most popular and authenticated English versions of the Bible.

The King James Version puts it this way: “Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.”

The NIV: “Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies.”

The NRSV: “Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel; and whose power is in the skies.”

Maybe someone on the school board prefers a more literal translation.

Besides, who is more qualified to quote correctly the Word of God? Public school officials who sell vanity bricks to economize or people who buy bricks to evangelize on in public schools?


School officials actually claimed a higher motivation:

“We need to respectfully decline the donation of bricks quoting scripture from the Bible,” a school official wrote in a letter to the two women. “I’m sure most parents will understand the Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.”

Objection, ma’am. If you were trying to uphold the principal of separation of church and state, why did you accept bricks inscribed with these messages?




The last one references Phillippians 4:13, which according to King James says: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Yes, you can, but apparently only in Spanish.

The strangest part of the story is that the two women actually received the six biblical bricks they ordered. The district delined to use the bricks, but kept the $750.

So if they accept money from evangelical Christians, but decline to accept evangelical messages from Christians, does that make them hypocrites?

Or does that just make them government officials?

I wonder if the school district, or the Alliance Defense Fund, would accept a brick bearing a verse from Isaiah 65:3, describing “a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick.”

Probably not.


  • digicall

    Mr. Waters –”Tell everyone about God’s power” (Psalm 68:34), verbatim from the New Living Translation, a very “popular and authenticated English version of the Bible,” published by Tyndale.Oh, by the way — “principle” (not “principal”) of separation of church and state (a phrase which does not, of course, appear in the Constitution).

  • ThomasBaum

    David Waters You wrote, “The strangest part of the story is that the two women actually received the six biblical bricks they ordered. The district delined to use the bricks, but kept the $750.”You then wrote, “So if they accept money from evangelical Christians, but decline to accept evangelical messages from Christians, does that make them hypocrites?Seems to me from the “facts” presented that it makes them “thieves”.Wasn’t the “services rendered” for which these two women paid, to include not only having the bricks inscribed but also used?Since the “services rendered” were paid for but not rendered, than the money should have been returned, don’t you think?Have you ever wondered why it seems that at least some of the people that do not believe in God seem to be absolutely terrified of God or at least the mere mention of God?One day when ALL have met God, people will realize that no one should be afraid of God.People will also come to realize that many that “spoke” about God, knew either nothing or next to nothing about God.People will also come to realize that some of those that knew “next to nothing about God”, knew God’s Name, and that is about the extent of their knowledge of God.God’s Plan which God has had since before creation will come to Fruition and God’s Plan, which has already included God becoming One of us, is for ALL to, ultimately, be with God in God’s Kingdom.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Johnabarca

    What the likes of Mr. Waters fail to grasp is that this supposed “separation” that they cling to, was intended to PROTECT religious exercise not restrict it. The founders were not worried about religious influence on their public lives, they were concerned with government infringing on religious exercise. Ignorance has allowed the intent to be perverted and now be used to stifle the very thing that the founders wanted to allow and protect. @digicall, Liberals like Mr. Waters are not very good at research. They depend on and hope for the ignorance of readers to just accept what they write as fact.

  • amelia45

    Schools will be attended by children of many different faiths. Teachers may be of many different faiths. To promote any religion by “advertising” on public buildings is crossing the line toward “establishment” of religion. The fact that all religions could also put bricks up does not solve the problem.Good for the school officials who had the courage to defend the ideals of our constitution. And, no, you can’t just vote on it and have a majority rule. Madison was careful pointed in his arguments regarding the Amendments to the Constitution that the tyranny of the majority should not easily be imposed on the minority. Wise man.

  • dragondancer1814

    Amelia45, well said! I agree with the fact that people from all religions could’ve had bricks put up too, but I can see that easily leading to a situation where the bricks with the non-Christian religions’ words on them could’ve been broken or vandalized by so-called “Christians” who have the mindset that only their religious beliefs are allowed.Kudos to the school officials for standing up for the Constitution and not allowing proselytizing in a building occupied by and for the purpose of educating students of all and/or no religious beliefs. If people want to put up bricks with Scripture on them, then they should talk to their churches about putting up a garden walkway on church property or something. Just because the majority of the people in this country follow some form of Christianity does not give them the right to walk all over the non-Christians’ rights.

Read More Articles

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.