Texas hospital responds after Atheist group demands it pulls down faith-based banner


A public hospital in Texas, The University Medical Centre (UMC) of Lubbock, has received complaints from an atheist group, Freedom From Religion (FRF), over the banner displayed in front of the hospital.

According to the health organization, the banner which passes a message seeking for God’s protection including other Christian content was put up during the pandemic. However, it stated that it was a temporary decision and that the banner would be pulled down later.

The banner reads: “Gracious Lord, for all of UMC I pray Your divine protection over them, guidance within them & provision for them daily. ... Firm, not fearful.” These words were attributed to Rev. Wendell Davis of Lyon’s Chapel Baptist Church. 

According to The Christian Post, the letter which was addressed to UMC CEO and President, Mark Funderburk, was written by Christopher Line, FFRF’s staff attorney. He stated that the banner was “an unconstitutional endorsement of religion over non religion.” The letter was posted on its website and it reads;

“We urge UMC to recognize its obligation to provide all citizens with an environment free from religious endorsement by removing this exclusionary display.

“In addition, a concerned University Medical Center community member has reported that the Medical Center creates videos featuring chaplains that promote and endorse Christianity.

“By publishing overtly Christian messages, the University Medical Center violates the Establishment Clause … When a public hospital regularly promulgates religious concepts to employees and the public, it sends a message that the government supports those ideas.”

FRF is known to put pressure on government institutions nationwide to stop any assumed approval of religion. It cited the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibits governments from creating an official religion.

In his response to the issue, Funderburk stated that in the near future, UMC will take down the banner. He also added that no visitor, patient, or staff of the hospital has been compelled to act in a certain faith before or during COVID.

“UMC Health System recognizes diversity in our workplace and in our patient population.  UMC Health System also understands the delicate balance between the free exercise of religion and government neutrality.

“As per our original plan to replace the banner once our COVID-19 census diminished, it will be removed in the very near future and replaced with a new message of support, as we emerge from the pandemic.

“Like many hospitals, University Medical Center has a chaplain program designed to improve patient’s health and well-being. These professionals skillfully and compassionately attend the spiritual and emotional needs, and support the health and welfare of UMC’s patients, staff, and visitors,” Funderburk said.

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