Michael Gilbert, Texas superintendent, to atheist group: ‘I will be praying for you’

March 12, 2015
Jessica Chasmar
Displayed with permission from The Washington Times

Michael Gilbert, the superintendent of White Oak, Texas, public schools, is standing in support of one of his principals for quoting Bible scripture over the school’s intercom – a long-running tradition that has come under scrutiny by atheist groups.

A student at White Oak High School recorded Principal Dan Noll one morning giving his “Thought for the Day,” which included a Bible passage, and turned the recording over atheist activists.

Mr. Gilbert issued a defiant statement this week saying he has absolutely no plans to discipline Mr. Noll or make changes to the “Thought for the Day,” which has been going on since the 1970s as a matter of school morale, a local NBC affiliate reported.

“Recently, I have been contacted by two concerned residents of White Oak ISD and legal counsel from the Freedom From Religion Foundation concerning the use of scripture in the ‘Thought for the Day’ at the high school,” Mr. Gilbert said in the statement. “Let me be clear, this is an attempt to draw us into a contest of words for the sole purpose of giving the FFRF a large amount of free press/recognition that they and their very few members (1,200 in Texas) do not deserve.


“This group and others like it, are wanting us to provide them with negative quotes to use in the promotion of their agenda,” he continued. “My recommended response to the FFRF is, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way. I will be praying for you and your staff daily.'”

“Bible studies and scriptures are allowed in schools,” Mr. Gilbert explained. “The requirement is that the material be presented in a neutral manner. It is my position that we met that standard with the morning announcements.

“Finally, as a Christian Brother, it will not promote the values we hold so dear to assail those that disagree with the Gospel,” the superintendent concluded. “We will state our case. We will make sure our rights are just as protected as anyone else that lives in this great country. We will continue to provide for all the needs of our students and we will do so while traveling the High Road. Don’t get drawn into a game of words that has no ‘winner.’ Please do not waste your time and effort on these few detractors.”

The school’s principal also thanked the community for supporting him during this time.

“Thank you for all the kinds words, love and support,” Mr. Noll said. “I love my students and I love the staff. I never doubt where the community stands because they will always come together.”


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