Law: Bible verse wrestling shirts under review

PARKERSBURG – The Wood County School System is seeking legal advice on wrestling shirts that prompted a complaint from an out-of-state group.

Superintendent Pat Law said a complaint was received last week concerning T-shirts worn by the Parkersburg South High School wrestling team which bear a Bible verse on the back. The complaint came from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis.

Law said the complaint alleges the shirts violate the federal separation of church and state. Law said since the wrestling season is over, officials have asked attorneys to look at the complaint and the shirts to decide whether to take any action.

“We don’t want to infringe upon anyone’s right to practice their religion, but it’s been repeatedly verified in the courts that public institutions such as school systems cannot promote a religion,” which would include team uniforms, Law said. “We’ve turned it over to our legal department to provide us with some guidance on this.”

Law said he has not taken any action to restrict the shirts or ban them from schools. There is a question of who purchased the shirts and whether school or booster money was used.

“Whether it was boosters or the school, it doesn’t really matter,” Law said. “The booster money is essentially school money under the law.”