The recently spotted signs near Richland County schools saying “School Prayer Zone” did not get approval from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), state officials said Thursday.
“SCDOT did not approve the signs,” South Carolina Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said in a news release.
Despite that, the signs are legal.
SCDOT said the signs near Blythewood High School are on “private church property ... outside of the highway rights of way,” making them legally permitted, WIS reported.
The signs show a female and male figures kneeling in prayer, accompanied by a smaller sign that says “School Prayer Zone.”
Those signs also include a Bible verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, that says if you pray, God “will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
While the font, figures and reflective nature of the signs are similar to official SCDOT signs, they are not identical. That slight disparity also complies with SCDOT directives making them legal.
“The agency advised the group that the signs could not be placed on the public rights-of-way, nor could the design of the signs appear to be a traditional road sign in shape, color or otherwise in order to avoid confusing motorists,” Hall said in the news release.
The signs are the product of Christ Teens, whose founder, Vanessa Frazier, said she hopes they inspire people to “pray morning, day, and night for our teachers, students, and parents,” according to WIS.
The signs are available for purchase on the Christ Teens website for $714, the same numbers included in the Bible verse. Door hangers of the signs are also for sale on the group’s website.
The religious group said it has been in touch with high schools in South Carolina, California, Texas and Alaska about its mission.
The website Friendly Atheist takes a cynical view of the signs, saying “It’s just another way for Christians to shove their beliefs in people’s faces instead of doing anything that would actually help students — like pushing for more teacher pay or demanding higher academic standards.”
Despite the criticism, the signs aren’t expected to go anywhere.
“These signs are privately funded and placed on private property,” Hall said.