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Ten Commandments come down in Oklahoma school district

Published: Tuesday, May 14 2013 11:40 a.m. MDT

MULDROW, Okla. — For the second time in as many months, a local school district has ordered the removal of Ten Commandments displays from a public school.

Following an emotional meeting Monday of the Muldrow School Board in Oklahoma, board attorney Jerry Richardson confirmed that despite residents' strong feelings to the contrary, the plaques once posted in classrooms of the local high school will stay off the walls.

“They wish the Ten Commandments could remain in the classrooms. Unfortunately, it is my unpleasant job to tell you the situation is otherwise,” Richardson said.

The district received a letter earlier this month from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which had been contacted by a student at the high school. The foundation's letter stated that the displays were unconstitutional and that a lawsuit would result if the school district did not comply.

Ever since the letter arrived, the community has been up in arms. Multiple petitions have been signed by hundreds of people, pray-ins have been held at the school, pro-Christian messages lit up Twitter with the hashtag #FightForFaith, and church officials and politicians have railed against the request to remove the religious postings.

"We believe the Ten Commandments have a place in our society and are appropriate in our classrooms," Shawn Money, senior pastor at Muldrow First Assembly of God, said. "(We need) as Christians to let our voices be heard. We feel we have been losing things important to us."

The student who complained about the postings says he and his sister, who had nothing to do with her brother's decision, have taken some flak for his action. “I want people to know this isn’t me trying to attack religion," said Gage Pulliam, a junior at Muldrow High. "This is me trying to create an environment for kids where they can feel equal.” The Oklahoma controversy is the second time the foundation has successfully asked for the removal of Ten Commandments displays in public schools. In April, the Breathitt County School District in Kentucky removed displays from its schools.

In both instances, according to news reports, school officials are complying with the 1980 Supreme Court ruling that found a Kentucky law mandating the placement of the Ten Commandments in public schools was unconstitutional.

Not all Christians are upset about this latest controversy over religion in the public schools.

Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, an ordained minister and senior religion editor for the Huffington Post, wrote that the First Amendment's Establishment Clause also protects religion from government intrusion and interpretation.

"Every religious person should object to having the Ten Commandments in schools because you are allowing other people — people over whom you have no control — the responsibility of interpreting said commandments."

Email: mbrown@deseretnews.com

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