Jackson, Kentucky — A school district in Kentucky has caved to demands from a prominent atheist activist organization surrounding the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools.
Schools within the Breathitt County School District have displayed the Ten Commandments on the walls of their classrooms for many years — that is, until now. Recently, an individual contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to complain about the displays and noted that they can be seen in elementary, middle and high schools alike. In response, FFRF contacted the district to demand that the Biblically-based laws be removed.
“These Ten Commandment displays are a flagrant violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution,” the letter, penned by FFRF attorney Patrick Elliott, stated. “Any student will view a Ten Commandments display in school as being endorsed by the school. … Breathitt County Schools’ promotion of the Judeo-Christian Bible and religion over non-religion impermissibly turns any non-Christian or non-believing student, parent or staff member into an outsider.”
“It is unfortunate that past school leadership sought to instruct other people’s children on religious edicts,” it continued. “We consider such violations of conscience as requiring speedy resolution.”
Therefore, FFRF demanded that the Commandments be “removed immediately” and that schools within the district “ensure that children are learning in a secular environment.”
Upon receipt of the letter, officials with the Breathitt County School District agreed to comply with the atheist order and directed principals within the district to take down all displays from classroom, lobby and conference room walls.
“The display of religious materials, such as a painting of a religious figure or a copy of the Ten Commandments, in a public school violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the establishment or endorsement of religion by a public agency,” the Kentucky Board of Education conceded in a recent statement. “A school or district that displays copies of the Ten Commandments without the inclusion of other historical documents and not as part of a historical/comparative display is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
“The Kentucky Department of Education’s focus in Breathitt County is on student achievement and college and career readiness and using its resources to support those efforts,” it said.
However, some area residents are now upset about the removal of the Commandments and believe that school officials should have the freedom to choose whether or not to display the laws of the Creator in their classrooms.
“I am totally against [their removal],” Mary Campbell, owner of Old Country Restaurant, told television station WYMT-TV. “I think that we need the Ten Commandments in the schools. I think all kids should learn it.”
Campbell herself has displayed the Ten Commandments in the window of her restaurant in the past.
“It makes me angry,” a second resident added. “I want my grandchildren to have a Christian upbringing.”
The Ten Commandments have now been taken down as per the FFRF order.