O’DONNELL, Texas — Students at a high school in Texas are pushing back after a prominent Church-State separation group lodged a complaint about a Ten Commandments painting hung on the wall, which resulted in the school district covering the display.
“I made the decision to cover it up until I made a more informed decision about what I should do, because I don’t want to harm the district or cause any controversy or anything,” O’Donnell Independent School District Dr. Cathy Amonett told reporters on Friday.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation had sent a letter to Amonett this week demanding that the district remove the painting, as well as a Scripture that had also been displayed on the wall at O’Donnell High School.
“By displaying a religious message in its entryway, O’Donnell ISD infringes on its students’ constitutionally protected religious freedom,” the letter read. “By endorsing a religious message, the school district violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
Following receipt of the correspondence, which was based upon an unidentified complainant, Amonett had the painted covered, as well as the quote of Isaiah 40:31. But students allegedly tore the black paper down in protest. The paintings have now been recovered with the American flag.
And now, students are pushing back in support of the display, posting scores of Scriptures on the wall.
“Students have put verses on sticky notes just around the hallways and stuff. So two verses and Commandments they’ve been complaining about turned into 70 verses,” student Sebastian Pedroza told local television station KCBD.
“I feel like they should be up and they should represent us because it’s what we believe in,” student Brooklyn Wilkie also commented to Fox34. “It’s God; it’s what we believe in. We’re not going to keep quiet about it.”
Amonett said that she backs the students and shares in their frustration.
“I’m proud of my kids. I think that they have shown the kind of people that they are,” she told the outlet. “They believe in the Ten Commandments and they want to stand up for it, and I’m proud of them for that.”
“The next step is I’m going to do some more investigation, and get with the school leadership, and the community, and the students, and we will decide what we need to do to protect the school, while also honoring it,” Amonett explained.
FFRF is still threatening a lawsuit if the district decides to keep the paintings.
“At this point, we hope that the superintendent will do the right thing and remove the religious display, which violates the separation of church and state and also the right of conscience of each student at the school,” attorney Sam Grover said in a statement. “If the school district chooses to keep the display, it is exposing itself to a potential lawsuit that could cost the school district and taxpayers dearly.”