Fact Check

Biden Did Not Ban Religion from White House Easter Egg Art Contest, Despite False Reports

Days of misleading reporting from Fox News and The Daily Caller fueled the flames of this false rumor. Here are the facts.

Published April 1, 2024

Updated April 2, 2024
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden host the White House Easter egg roll on the South Lawn on April 1, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Image Via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Claim:
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration banned "religious symbols" and "overtly religious themes" from an Easter egg art contest affiliated with the White House.

In late March 2024, two purported controversies gained steam online involving U.S. President Joe Biden and the Easter holiday, just before the April 1 White House Easter egg roll — an annual Easter-themed event for children and families traditionally held on the White House South Lawn.

One such controversy involved the fact that, in 2024, Easter fell on the same day as Transgender Day of Visibility. Critics lashed out after Biden officially recognized both special days. As we reported, the truth was that Easter's date varies by year, while Transgender Day of Visibility has taken place on March 31 for more than a decade.

The other controversy involved a false rumor about the origination of guidelines for an annual Easter egg contest. This rumor was promoted by both Fox News and The Daily Caller, among others. 

False Reporting from Fox News and The Daily Caller

On March 29, the homepage of FoxNews.com displayed the false headline "White House bans religious-themed designs from Easter egg art contest." The headline is visible partway down a page archived by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

As of this writing on April 1, the article's headline read, "Religious-themed designs banned from White House Easter egg art contest." It's unclear whether this headline was the story's original headline and whether the other headline — "White House bans religious-themed designs from Easter egg art contest" — was visible on only the FoxNews.com homepage.

A rumor claimed President Joe Biden banned religion from an Easter egg contest at the White House.This false headline was displayed on the FoxNews.com homepage.

Then, on the Fox News TV channel on April 1, "The Faulkner Focus" host Harris Faulkner asked "Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade, "So, the New York Post with this: 'Religious-themed designs banned from the White House Easter egg art contest.' What in the world is that about?!" Kilmeade answered, "More stupidity."

However, the truth was Faulkner had just cited the very same Fox News article after it had been republished on the New York Post website. This was evident because the same Fox News reporter's name and "Fox News" both appeared at the top of the page.

The official Fox News Facebook page also falsely posted, "BAD EGG: The White House is laying down new rules for the religious holiday tradition — no 'religious symbols' or 'overtly religious themes.'"

A rumor claimed President Joe Biden banned religion from an Easter egg contest at the White House.

Further, The Daily Caller published an article with the false headline "White House Bans Religious Easter Eggs From Art Contest." The same headline appeared on The Daily Caller's Facebook page.

A rumor claimed President Joe Biden banned religion from an Easter egg contest at the White House.

Here Are the Facts

The Biden administration had not, in fact, banned religion from an Easter egg art contest in 2024 or any other year.

The Easter egg contest is organized annually by the American Egg Board — a government-created program falling under the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. Designs are submitted on paper by children of National Guard families. The deadline in 2024 was Jan. 22, according to a flyer promoting the contest. The flyer also said, "Selected designs representing the unique experience and stories of National Guard children will be brought to life on real hen eggs by talented egg artists from across the country and displayed at the White House this Easter and Passover season."

A March 31, 2024, news release on the American Egg Board website began as follows:

As part of the many Easter traditions celebrated at the White House, America's Egg Farmers are proud to have collaborated with the White House on the "Colonnade of Eggs," celebrating First Lady Jill Biden's commitment to supporting those who serve our country and their families. Appearing in the East Colonnade of the White House, the exhibit features eggs designed by children from National Guard families across the country.

This is key: The same news release also said the American Egg Board had overseen the contest for years "while remaining non-discriminatory and not showing preference to any individual religious or political viewpoints, as AEB is prohibited from doing as a national checkoff organization."

As such, one of the submission guidelines on the aforementioned flyer read, "The submission must not include any questionable content, religious symbols, overtly religious themes or partisan political statements."

In other words, the same guidelines were in place during previous presidential administrations, including under former U.S. President Donald Trump.

In an emailed statement, Emily Metz, president and CEO of the American Egg Board, told Snopes, "The American Egg Board has been a supporter of the White House Easter Egg Roll for over 45 years and the guideline language referenced in recent news reports has consistently applied to the board since its founding, across administrations."

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates also told Snopes in a statement regarding the false rumors of the egg contest, "They're lying while criticizing every President who's been in office for the last 45 years."

Photos from 2024 Egg Contest Submissions

First lady Jill Biden's staff posted pictures on Facebook of some this year's eggs featured in the White House's "Colonnade of Eggs."

The American Egg Board said in its news release that in 2021 the first lady and her staff expanded the egg art showcase with "larger exhibits" than had been present under previous administrations.

Updates from Fox News and The Daily Caller

As of this writing, the Fox News story has been updated but does not feature a clear and separate editor's note that would inform readers the website originally reported misleading information. The only indication to readers the article was updated appeared within one of the story's final paragraphs. Further, the aforementioned Facebook post was not corrected.

The Daily Caller has since added an editor's note to the bottom of its article but did not change its headline or correct all the other false statements in its story. In other words, the article was still promoting false information. The editor's note was apparently added on either March 31 or April 1, according to archived page captures on both dates saved on the archive.today website.

Snopes received an emailed response from Fox News indicating it was looking into the matter. The Daily Caller had not responded by press time after we contacted it via an email address on its "journalistic and ethical standards" page. That page said of its reporting standards, "We won't publish what we can't prove."

This story will be updated if we receive any further pertinent responses.

Update: On April 2, 2024, The Daily Caller published a retraction of its article.

Sources

"2024 Call for Youth Art: Celebrating National Guard Families." FirstLiberty.org, 2024, https://firstliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/2024_Youth_Art_Egg_Flyer.pdf.

"About Us." American Egg Board, https://www.incredibleegg.org/about-us/.

American Egg Board | Agricultural Marketing Service. https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/research-promotion/eggs.

Archive.today Webpage Capture. https://archive.is/.

Baragona, Justin. X, 1 Apr. 2024, https://twitter.com/justinbaragona/status/1774823737126203883.

Frieman, Julianna. "White House Bans Religious Easter Eggs From Art Contest." The Daily Caller, 29 Mar. 2024, https://dailycaller.com/2024/03/29/white-house-religious-easter-egg-designs-national-guard-art-contest-biden/.

Hawkinson, Katie. "American Egg Board Forced to Respond to Republican Conspiracy Theory about White House Easter Event." The Independent, 31 Mar. 2024, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/white-house-easter-egg-roll-religious-symbols-b2521370.html.

Perlmutter-Gumbiner, Elyse, and Alexandra Marquez. "Conservatives Shell Long-Standing White House Easter Egg Contest." NBC News, 31 Mar. 2024, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/conservatives-shell-decades-long-white-house-easter-egg-contest-rcna145771.

"Procedures: The First Amendment and Agriculture." The National Agricultural Law Center, 24 Mar. 2022, https://nationalaglawcenter.org/procedures-the-first-amendment-and-agriculture/.

"Special Easter Egg Exhibit at the White House in Collaboration with America's Egg Farmers Celebrates National Guard Children." American Egg Board, 31 Mar. 2024, https://www.incredibleegg.org/about-us/newsroom/special-easter-egg-exhibit-at-the-white-house-in-collaboration-with-americas-egg-farmers-celebrates-national-guard-children/.

Superville, Darlene, and Will Weissert. "White House Easter Egg Roll Draws a Huge Crowd after Storm-Delayed Start." The Associated Press, 1 Apr. 2024, https://apnews.com/article/joe-jill-biden-easter-egg-roll-985e4e994529bcbdb80898a62b9fe5fb.

Tietz, Kendall. "Religious-Themed Designs Banned from White House Easter Egg Art Contest." Fox News, 29 Mar. 2024, https://www.foxnews.com/media/religious-themed-designs-banned-white-house-easter-egg-art-contest.

"Wayback Machine." Internet Archive, https://web.archive.org/.

"When Did the White House Host Its First Easter Egg Roll?" The White House Historical Association, https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-is-the-history-of-the-white-house-easter-egg-roll.

Updates

April 2, 2024: This article was updated to add a note saying The Daily Caller retracted its article.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.