BLUE RIVER, Ore. (AP) A rural school district has banned a proposed motto for a graduating high school class because it contains a religious reference.
Some of the 90 seniors at McKenzie High School had been inspired by a Bible verse quoted at the August funeral of a classmate killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident.
The entire verse was: "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles."
It was read at the memorial service for Ryan Snapp, who died Aug. 10 after hitting a tree in the alcohol-related crash. The students deleted any references to God in the proposed motto.
But McKenzie School District officials rejected the motto as too religious: "They that believe shall mount up with wings as eagles."
Brianna Rux, 17, one of the seniors, said the verse seemed fitting, given the school's mascot is the Eagles, and that class members have pulled together to rise above their grief.
"Ourselves being Eagles, it seemed a good way to describe who we are that no matter what we believe in, we can overcome," she said.
But the district's attorney, Bruce Zagar, advised that the motto not be allowed because both the U.S. and Oregon constitutions prevent public entities from taking any action that establishes, sponsors, supports or condones a religion or religious belief. Zagar said omitting the reference to God from the verse doesn't alter its origin the Old Testament.