December 8, 2021

‘God is Dead’ Poster Stays in Public School Classroom

Alcovy High School in Newton County, Ga., is in the middle of a controversy over separation of church and state, but this time it’s not inclusion of religion that’s at the root of the problem, but the exclusion.

Students at Alcovy High have been studying Arthur Miller’s play “The Crucible,” which uses the Salem Witch Trials to comment on the communist hearings of the McCarthy era.

As part of a project, some of the students produced a “Crucible” poster that features the phrase “God is dead,” which is a line from the play (as well as a famous line from Friedrich Nietzsche).

The mother of one student  has complained about the poster being displayed in a classroom, but so far school officials have said that the poster will stay up.

Crystal Mitchell told WAGA-TV, “It made my daughter very uncomfortable. If my child can’t pray in school and they’ve taken religion out of school, for this to be plastered on the walls of school, is a huge concern for me.”

Mitchell has also started a Facebook page, “God is Alive in Newton.”

School officials have said that the poster is appropriate because it represents events in the play and is thus fair game for discussion. “Thousands of students read this book every year,” said the school district spokeswoman Sherri Davis-Viniard. “If it’s not appropriate on the classroom wall, where is it appropriate?”

School officials did agree to meet with freshmen and sophomores to discuss the context of the poster.

Personally, I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, it’s more of the usual anti-God propaganda kids are given in schools, and fairness would suggest that if it’s OK to say “God is dead” on a school poster, it should also be fine to post the Ten Commandments.

On the other hand, falling into epileptic fits whenever something “offends” their sensibilities is what atheists like to do, and my instinct is that we should be better people than that. I’m also hesitant to advocate dumbing down the education process further — “The Crucible” wouldn’t be my first choice for a literature class, but it’s not entirely without value.