The Giles County School Board has decided that it will not only remove the display from Narrows High School near Roanoke, but also all of the public schools in the district. Instead, the Ten Commandments will be replaced with a page from one of its 11th grade textbooks.
The proposal that was approved without contest stated: “In light of the recent controversy and legal proceedings, and the substitution of this ‘Roots of Democracy’ document in the place of the text of the Ten Commandments, this board will not approve the posting of the text of the Ten Commandments in our schools unless and until the courts provide further clarification of the law in this area.”
The “Roots of Democracy” document referenced in the motion discusses historical writings such as the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. In the upper right-hand corner is a photo of two tablets that resemble the Ten Commandments, but with no words written on them. Next to the graphic is the heading “Judeo-Christian Roots,” followed by one sentence: “The values found in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus, inspired American ideas about government and morality.” Officials felt that the display would now be considered secular, since other historical topics are highlighted on the page, including the country’s purported Roman and English roots.
The Giles County School District first came under fire over a year ago when a student at Narrows High School complained about seeing the Commandments. He stated in court documents that the display “makes me feel like an outsider because the school is promoting religious beliefs that I do not share.”
The student’s parents then contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which sent a letter to the school. When efforts to have the Ten Commandments removed were unsuccessful, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit.
District Judge Michael F. Urbanski, an Obama appointee, then instructed both sides to go into mediation. He also recommended that the first four of the Ten Commandments be removed, which reference God.
“If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn’t it make sense for Giles County to say, ‘Let’s go back and just post the bottom six?,’” Urbanksi stated.
It is not yet known whether Urbanski will have issue with the new “Roots of Democracy” document, or if he will accept the agreement between the two groups.
The Giles County School District is being represented by Liberty Counsel, which is closely affiliated with Liberty University in Lynchburg.