For decades, the public schools in Muldrow County have had plaques of the Ten Commandments in every single classroom. All of that changed recently when a junior in the school contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which then contacted the school and asked them to have the plaques removed in order to avoid a lawsuit.
As Huffington Post reports, there was a tremendous public outcry in response to the news. Students, parents, and clergy all weighed in, claiming once again that their religion is under attack and, in effect, that Christianity is the only source of practical morality in the modern world.
Multiple petitions have been signed by hundreds of people, pray-ins have been held at the school, pro-Christian messages lit up Twitter with the hashtag #FightForFaith, and church officials and politicians have railed against the request to remove the religious postings.
“A nation that refuses to allow educators to teach children right from wrong will become a corrupt nation, where sin prevails, evil abounds, and everyone does as they please,” said Republican state Rep. John Bennett, according to the Sequoyah County Times.
“It’s Christianity under attack,” Muldrow First Baptist Church Pastor John Moore inveighed. “It was promised in the scripture [that this would happen].
Over time, the identity of the student who complained to the FFRF was being slowly narrowed down. Eventually, he came out in order to protect others who had been harassed and threatened by their presumably faithful and devout Christian classmates.
He actually wanted to remain anonymous. But on Thursday, when students were reacting to this obvious discrimination against Christians, other students began getting blamed for alerting FFRF, including some of Gage’s atheist friends. He didn’t want to be the hero (to us) or the target (of the bullies), but he couldn’t bear to see his friends getting treated badly for something he did. That’s when he began telling the students who were pointing fingers in the wrong direction that he was the one who started this. He hoped that this post would help take the heat off his friends, too.
I guess in focusing on the Ten Commandments, they may have overlooked the parts of the bible where Jesus told them to love their enemies and turn the other cheek. Probably wasn’t convenient at that particular moment.
Anyway, in a new development, the plaques have been permanently taken down, with the school acknowledging that they could neither afford nor win a court battle. The news article I linked to in the header – along with the accompanying video – makes for a good read, if only to see exactly how everyone involved has so completely whiffed on the real issue. For example, in the segment, the word “tradition” must have been used about a half dozen times, with reactions from the public focusing on the fact that these plaques have been a part of their lives for decades:
The parents say, after 20 years of having the Ten Commandments signs up, it doesn’t make sense to take them down now. But the district’s lawyer says they can’t afford a lawsuit. It’s a tradition the school says dates back decades.
“The commandments have been there ever since I can remember, ever since elementary school,” said Muldrow senior Blakely Palafox. “I think it’s actually kind of stupid to take away something so important to our school. Those Ten Commandments have been there forever.”
But some students can understand why the school is taking this decision.
“It might be better for them to take them down, just so they don’t lose a bunch of money that they need to buy books and everything we need,” said senior Darian Preston.
This issue has nothing to do with the cost to the school. This is not about “tradition”, the “way things have always been”, or “just leaving it alone”. It’s also not about a bunch of loudmouth atheists who want to get some attention. Most of all, the Ten Commandments are not “what it means to be an American”. If you want an old document to hold close to your heart and tell you what it means to be a citizen of this country, why don’t you try the US Constitution? In it, you’ll see that the very thing you’re fighting against is protected by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. You’ll realize that while you may be saddened that these plaques are being taken down, they should never have been placed in public school classrooms to begin with. This is the heart of the matter, and this is something these students need to understand. The Ten Commandments maybe an important part of your lives as members of the community in Muldrow County … but as citizens of the United States, you should also understand that the US government – and, by extension, the state governments – cannot do anything that shows an establishment or advocacy of any religion.
Maybe they can take the money they’ve saved by not going to court and spend it on a mandatory civics class for the entire student body, including an in-depth analysis of the Constitution.