Okla. Community Rallies Around School District Forced to Remove Ten Commandments
In order to avoid a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the school district in Muldrow, Okla., will be removing its Ten Commandment displays from all schools after an atheist teen student addressed legal concerns.
In spite of this decision on behalf of the school board, the small community of Muldrow has rallied around its Christian beliefs, urging the district to hold strong to its religious freedom and keep the Ten Commandments in place.
After a meeting held Monday night, the Muldrow School District board members opted to have the Ten Commandments plaques, which sit in each classroom in the school district, removed in order to avoid the threatened lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the separation of church and state.
The board's decision to remove the Ten Commandments came after Gage Pulliam, an atheist student at the Muldrow High School, reported to FFRF that his constitutional rights were being violated because Christian materials were on display in classrooms.
The organization then reportedly sent a letter to the school district urging them to remove the plaques or face a lawsuit.
"I want people to know this isn't me trying to attack religion," Pulliam, who initially wanted to remain anonymous but later chose to reveal his identity, told Patheos.
"This is me trying to create an environment for kids where they can feel equal."
Although the school district has agreed to remove the plaques, students and parents in the small town of Muldrow have been vehemently protesting the removal of the commandments for the past several days, even contacting State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) to get his support on the issue.
"A nation that refuses to allow educators to teach children right from wrong will become a corrupt nation, where sin prevails, evil abounds and everyone does as they please," Bennett told the Seqouyah County Times.
In protest of the plaque removal, members of this small community began a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #FightforFaith, as well as created petitions which circulated the Internet.
Additionally, the local Muldrow First Assembly church reportedly printed t-shirts with the Ten Commandments so that students may wear them to school.
As the Associated Press reported, hundreds of school patrons gathered in Muldrow High School's cafeteria on Monday evening to protest the plaques' removal at the board meeting.
Many reportedly adorned their vehicles with Christian slogans while attending the meeting, while others reportedly gave church leaders speaking at the meeting standing ovations.
At the meeting, Muldrow First Assembly of God Senior Pastor Shawn Money described the Ten Commandments as "the thread of the fabric that has held many nations together."
As the AP reported, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote on the organization's website:
"We hope the board will honor thy constitution and heed the advice of its attorney rather than to acquiesce to pressure from a religious mob."
After the school board deliberated, district attorney Jerry Richardson told those in attendance at the meeting that although the board supported keeping the Ten Commandments plaques, fighting a lawsuit would waste taxpayer money.
"They wish the Ten Commandments could remain in the classrooms. Unfortunately, it is my unpleasant job to tell you the situation is otherwise," Richardson reportedly told those in attendance at the meeting, according to The Southwest Times Record.
The board added on Monday that students may continue to express their religion as long as they abide by school policies, but they may not post anything religious on school property.