Atheist Group Pressures Ohio School Into Removing Ten Commandments

Legal experts point out Supreme Court’s allowance of Ten Commandments on public grounds

A middle school in Ohio has removed a 92-year-old plaque with the Ten Commandments inscribed on it after relentless complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist organization.

The plaque was a gift from the Class of 1926 to the school district in 1927, and as far as the district knows, it has been displayed at Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia ever since.

After a parent reportedly complained about it, the FFRF sent a letter to the school district on April 12, stating that the plaque was a “fragrant violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” and accusing the school of turning non-Christian students into “outsiders.”

New Philadelphia Schools Superintendent David Brand disagrees with the way the FFRF went about addressing the matter. “Rather than meeting with the district to begin a dialogue, FFRF sent a letter from its office in Wisconsin and then used local media to further the issue,” he said.

However, the school district hasn’t given up yet. “Rather than engaging FFRF in an action where the community’s resources are at stake, the district will consider filing an amicus brief in a forthcoming case on the matter,” said Brand.

Franklin Graham expressed his support for the school district on Facebook: “I’d say: ‘Put it back!’ … I’m thankful that Superintendent David Brand says he disagrees and plans to challenge the decision. This is a part of the school’s history and heritage, and I hope they decide to put it back up. Kids also need to see and understand where the standards for right and wrong come from—God’s holy Word.”

Jeremy Dys, deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, which successfully argued the Bladensburg Peace Memorial Cross case before the Supreme Court in June, agreed: “We’ve got the Supreme Court, 6-3, that says the display of the Ten Commandments are welcomed on public property, including schools. The city of New Philadelphia Schools should put the display back up.”