“You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is of the heart.” — 2 Corinthians 3:2–3
That is one of two quotes with which a Missouri superintendent closed his email (the other was about WD-40 and duct tape). Later that day, after receiving the email, I sent a Sunshine Law request to another district, Genesis. Yet another biblical reference in Missouri public education.
Regardless of the intent or belief expressed, it’s important to keep church and state separate.
I doubt the superintendent intends to offend or convert with the quote. I’m not writing here to berate him for quoting the Bible. What bothers me is that the email came from his school district account. And, to emphasize, the school district is a public institution funded by Missouri taxpayers.
When he uses that email address, he is acting in a public capacity as superintendent. When he automatically includes a biblical quote at the end of each and every email he sends, it looks like an endorsement. Regardless of majority leanings, not all Missourians are Christian, or even believe in a god. And even those who share the superintendent’s belief should be offended. This is not just a matter of courtesy to the non-religious, this is more. He is using his role as the spokesman of a multi-million-dollar public organization to broadcast his personal beliefs.
In the past year, we’ve seen that emails from a government address are publicly available, and treated as any other office memo. Superintendents should be as careful about inserting their beliefs into public correspondences. That’s what private email is for.