Ohio School Scraps Ten Commandments Plaque: ‘No Longer on Display’

Joseph Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia, Ohio removed a Ten Commandments plaque after the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained. (Google Maps)
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A middle school in Ohio has removed its display of the Ten Commandments following complaints by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

The group called the plaque, which dates from the 1920s and was displayed at the entrance of the school’s auditorium entrance, a “flagrant violation” of the First Amendment.

“The district’s promotion of the Judeo-Christian bible and religion over nonreligion impermissibly turns any non-Christian or non-believing student into an outsider,” wrote FFRF representative Christopher Line in an April letter sent to the school.

“Schoolchildren already feel significant pressure to conform to their peers. They must not be subjected to similar pressure from their schools, especially on religious questions,” he added.

However, the school district was not happy with the way the FFRF went about addressing the matter. “Rather than meeting with the district to begin a dialogue, FFRF sent a letter from its office in Wisconsin and then used the local media to further the issue,” said school Superintendent David Brand.

Brand continued by stating that the plaque has been on display for more than 90 years, and is “part of the tradition and history of New Philadelphia City Schools.”

Line said he was pleased that the school district listened to their complaints, stating, “As far as we’re concerned, this situation is completely resolved. We’re happy that the district did the right thing by taking down this religious promotion.”

However, Breitbart News reported that the Supreme Court ruled on June 20 that a World War I memorial cross could remain standing on public ground in Maryland because it does not violate the First Amendment.

“The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote.

Breitbart News reported, “The legality of the 93-year-old memorial was challenged by an atheist organization called the American Humanist Association, which argued that the cross sent an exclusionary message in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

Brand told reporters that a legal battle over the historical plaque would be costly for the school district, and cited the education of students as their priority.

“Despite offers from local law professionals to help the district, the ‘costs’ of defending are substantial. In addition to funding multi-year litigation, the district will divert staff, time, and energy from the district’s true purpose — student learning,” he said.

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