New Mexico public school paints over religious mural after complaint

CLOVIS, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico public school recently painted over a mistake in judgement. The school was called out for a mural featuring a biblical quote.

A public school hallway wall used to display a mural of an anchor and a dove along with a religious inscription. That mural was quickly removed after a complaint from a parent.

A parent filed a complaint with the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), saying they visited the school and saw the painting with the Bible quote on it.

“They felt that the school shouldn’t be doing this and we agreed,” said Chris Line, representative for FFRF.

The FFRF, a national group, immediately stepped in sending a letter to the Clovis superintendent Wednesday, reminding the district of the separation of church and state.

“Schools cannot promote religion. They need to be neutral religion. So in this case, what they’re doing is by putting a Christian message from the Christian Bible up on the wall, they’re promoting Christianity. They’re showing a preference,” said Line.

Painted in 2013, the mural sat in the halls of the Freshman Academy for four years. After the complaint, the school removed it within 24 hours.

Most people KRQE News 13 spoke with in Clovis were not offended by the mural.

“As far as being on a wall at my school I’d have no problems with that,” said Kim Cane, Clovis resident.

The district would not comment on who was behind the idea for the mural — and why no staff members raised concerns about it for years.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is thankful for the quick response from Clovis schools, but the group did question why the school didn’t just use a similar literary quote.

Clovis has been in the middle of a fight between church and state before. In 2003, a Ten Commandments monument was removed from the county courthouse lawn.

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