BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Officials with a school district in Georgia have directed principals within their jurisdiction to remove copies of the Ten Commandments from their schools following a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
According to reports, on Sept. 28, the Glynn County School System sent an email memo to principals throughout the district telling them that the Decalogue displays cannot be erected unless they are a part of a “Freedom Wall”—a display featuring a variety of historical documents.
“Please thoroughly go through your building(s) today and collect any items that display the 10 Commandments,” the memo, from Assistant Superintendent Dr. James Pulos read. “The only exception to this directive is for the ‘Freedom Wall’ display—that document may remain as part of the set on display.”
“These items must be removed from view and collected for the time being until additional guidance is provided,” it said. “Please send me an email response by the end of business today regarding whether or not you had to remove any items from display. This must be resolved today.”
The district had received a complaint from the ACLU on Sept. 22, which expressed concern that a prior agreement from the 1990’s was not being adhered to, which stated that the Ten Commandments would only be used as part of integrated historical displays.
The ACLU says that it recently received a complaint about the presence of the Commandments at Golden Isles Elementary School. It did not release the name of the complainant.
“We received a complaint from a member of the community that the Ten Commandments were hanging in the schools, and hanging the commandments is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” Kathleen Burch, interim in-house counsel for the ACLU of Georgia, told the Golden Isles News.
She told the outlet that she doesn’t believe the Decalogue should be a part of school Freedom Walls either, but rather the concept would only apply at courthouses.
Following the issuance of the district’s memo, a petition was soon launched calling upon the district to keep the Ten Commandments regardless.
“If students in our county are having the learn other religions, Christianity should not be pushed out,” it reads.
As of press time, the petition, which was launched on Wednesday and seeks 2,000 signatures, has already obtained over 1,400 signatures.
Some also wrote personal letters to the district, urging them not to listen to the ACLU.
“I would like for [the school board] to stand up to them and not let these people bully us and tell us what we can and cannot put in our schools,” parent Jaime Raby told Golden Isles News.
But the district says that it sees the matter as one of compliance with the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“The Glynn County School System has, and intends to continue to, comply with its responsibilities under the United States Constitution, including the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” Anna Hall, Glynn County Schools public relations specialist, said in a statement.
“Superintendent Howard Mann has indicated that he will take appropriate steps through administrative and legal channels to respond to any issues that may be raised, in the same way the school system responds to any other issue,” she said. “At present, all Glynn County schools are outfitted with Freedom Walls which display historical documents that include the Ten Commandments.”
As previously reported, the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Van Orden v. Perry, which upheld a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas state capitol, noted that Decalogue displays are “common throughout America.”
“We need only look within our own courtroom,” the justices wrote. “Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the south frieze.”
“Similar acknowledgments can be seen throughout a visitor’s tour of our nation’s capital. For example, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building since 1897,” the decision continued. “And the Jefferson Building’s Great Reading Room contains a sculpture of a woman beside the Ten Commandments with a quote above her from the Old Testament (Micah 6:8).”
“A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the national archives,” the court outlined. “Inside the Department of Justice, a statue entitled “The Spirit of Law” has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet. In front of the Ronald Reagan Building is another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments.”