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School board demands bench dedicated to dead teen be removed because of Bible verse

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A bench dedicated to a Virginia teen who died last year is under fire because it contains a Bible verse.

The bench, which sits next to the Randolph Henry High School, was dedicated to 18-year-old firefighter Colton Blake Osborne last year after he died in an ATV accident, WSET reported.

The memorial is inscribed with his name, birthdate and death date, along with the Bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13.”

But now the Charlotte County School Board said the memorial is not compliant with the law.

“The community of Charlotte County is a very sweet and loving community and they do frequently request to give memorials,” school superintendent Nancy Leonard said.

The school worked with attorneys on how to handle student memorials, according to WSET.

“During that work, we found that the memorial bench that we currently have is not legally compliant because of the establishment clause because of the Bible verse,” Leonard said.

The memorial was placed last year during a ceremony to honor Osborne, and the school has received no complaints about the verse, but it said it has to follow the law.

“We have to remove the bench, or cover the scripture or change that verse to something else that may represent the child,” Leonard said.

The school said it will pay for the changes and is working with the family to determine another quote to replace the Bible verse with.

A petition on Change.org to save the bench has gained more than 1,200 signatures.

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Social media was outraged.

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Carmine Sabia


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