NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — One of the nation’s most conspicuous Church-State separation groups has sent a letter to an Ohio school district to request that it remove a plaque at an area middle school that features the Ten Commandments.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) says that it was contacted by a parent who advised that Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia has a Decalogue plaque near the entrance to its auditorium. The plaque cites the class of 1926 at the bottom.
“This plaque is a flagrant violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” FFRF’s letter claims, contending that “no court has upheld the display of the Ten Commandments in a public school.”
The group also asserts that students and others will view the sign as an endorsement by the school, and those who are not Christian or Jewish will feel like outsiders.
“The district’s promotion of the Judeo-Christian Bible and religion over non-religion impermissibly turns any non-Christian or non-believing parent, student or staff member into an outsider,” FFRF writes. “School children already feel significant pressure to conform from their peers. They must not be subjected to similar pressure from their school, especially on religious questions.”
Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor further remarked in a press release that even the first of the Commandments poses an issue as students shouldn’t be told which God to serve.
“The First Commandment alone is reason why public schools may not endorse the Commandments,” she said. “Students in our public schools are free to have any god they like, as many gods as they like — or none at all! In America, we live under the First Amendment, not the First Commandment.”
FFRF has asked that the Ten Commandments display “be removed immediately to ensure that NPCS is complying with constitutional requirements.”
It is not known if the district plans to respond.
As previously reported, FFRF has also asked a circuit attorney in Missouri to remove a Scripture plaque from outside her office at the local courthouse, and influenced an Illinois city to cancel its trip to Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter in asserting that the offering was unconstitutional.
However, while some say that mention of God and His word is inappropriate and unconstitutional for government leaders, others point to various examples in America’s beginnings.
According to reports, for more than 100 years in early America, those in the legal profession often looked to British judge William Blackstone’s “Commentaries on the Laws of England,” which regularly pointed to God’s Law as the foundation for civil and criminal law.
“Considering the Creator only as a being of infinite power, He was able unquestionably to have prescribed whatever laws He pleased to His creature, man …, ” Blackstone wrote in 1753. “But as He is also a being of infinite wisdom, He has laid down only such laws as were founded in those relations of justice, that existed in the nature of things antecedent to any positive precept. These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the Creator Himself in all His dispensations conforms; and which He has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions.”
John Adams, second president of the United States, wrote in his diary on Feb. 22, 1756, “Suppose a nation in some distant region, should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. Every member would be obliged in conscience to temperance and frugality and industry, to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men, and to piety and love, and reverence towards almighty God.”
“In this Commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness or lust—no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards, or any other trifling and mean amusement — no man would steal or lie or any way defraud his neighbor, but would live in peace and goodwill with all men. No man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship, but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion, would reign in all hearts.”
“What a Utopia, what a paradise would this region be,” Adams declared.