Va. County School Board Temporarily Removes Decalogue Display

A Virginia County's School Board has voted unanimously to temporarily remove a display of the Ten Commandments from a public high school, replacing it with a copy of a page from a history textbook.

The Board for Giles County Public Schools made the decision on Thursday to remove the Decalogue display while a suit against the display is taking place.

"In light of the recent controversy, and legal proceedings, and the substitution of this Roots of Democracy document in the place of the text of the Ten Commandments, this board will not approve the posting of the text of the Ten Commandments in our schools unless and until the courts provide further clarification of the law in this area," read the motion approved by the board.

The "Roots of Democracy" page put in place of the Decalogue includes descriptions of various influences on the modern American political system. These include Greek and Roman political influences, the Magna Carta, and the Enlightenment. The textbook also mentions Judeo-Christian influences and has a depiction of the Ten Commandments.

"The values found in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus, inspired American ideas about government and morality," reads the entry for that part of the page.

The display that the suit focuses on included a framed copy of the Ten Commandments and the United States Constitution which was put in the school in 1999.

In 2010, an anonymous student filed suit against the display at Narrows High School, arguing that by having the Ten Commandments among the documents, the display was a government endorsement of religion.

An effort by the school system to have the suit dismissed failed last November as the case was brought before United States District Court Judge Michael Urbanski. At present, the case is in mediation.

The student is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Rebecca Glenberg, legal director for the ACLU of Virginia, told The Christian Post that she could not comment on the effect the school board decision could have on the case.

"Our response to the school board's decision is the subject of ongoing discussion with our clients and will be addressed in mediation," said Glenberg. "Since we are required to keep all matters relating to the mediation confidential, we will not comment at this time on whether the posting of the textbook page is constitutional, or how it is likely to affect the case."

Giles County Public Schools is being represented by the Liberty Counsel, who did not return a request for comment by press time.

"We offered assistance to the school board after we were contacted because we believe this is an important area of the law," said Matt Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel, in an earlier interview with CP.

"We also believe that defending a display that contains some documents that reflect the foundations of American law and government is important."

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