Giles County Parent Offers a New Way to Break the law March 18, 2011

Giles County Parent Offers a New Way to Break the law

I thought the controversy over a Ten Commandments display in Giles County, Virginia public schools was finally over…

The school board wanted to push Christianity into the public sphere. The Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue. The board changed their mind.

But local parents don’t seem to care they’re on the losing end of a future lawsuit. They want a Ten Commandments display up there and they’ll find a way to make it work, dammit!

“I have now put together a formal proposal for a display, that I would like this Board to consider,” said Bobby Lilly, who is the parent of a second grader in Giles County Schools.

Lilly, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Pulaski County, presented the Giles Co. School Board with a display that features nine historical documents, during the meeting at Giles High School. Lilly’s display features documents like the Magna Carta, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the Ten Commandments. He would like to have the display hung in schools.

“This is a display about the Declaration of Independence, all of the documents that influenced its creation, and the things that came immediately after,” said Lilly.

One of these things is not like the other…

Of course, Lilly won’t be explaining what the first four commandments have to do with the founding of our country… or why lying, adultery, coveting, and respect for parents are relevant when they were never etched into our country’s laws either.

FFRF knows that, too.

Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said they would sue the Giles County School Board, if any alternative display containing the Ten Commandments were put back in schools.

“It doesn’t matter how many pieces of paper they put around it,” said Gaylor.

If the Giles County School Board members don’t vote this proposal down in a heartbeat, they’ll be embarrassing themselves even further. They know what Lilly’s doing is illegal but instead of telling him no, they are letting him think they’ll consider his shady workaround.

Great role models, all these people…

(Thanks to Sean for the link!)

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  • Steve Ride

    And they have the nerve to ask “why are athiests against religion?”

  • Claudia

    I think this display could potentially be fine if:

    – There is documented historical support for the notion that the 10 commandments was an important influence for the Declaration of Independence (color me skeptical). By “documented historical support” I mean a consensus amongst history scholars, not a preacher who comes to claim it outright.

    – The 10 commandments is not given obvious greater prominence in the display than any other document. Obviously the most important document would be the Declaration itself.

  • Gail

    I could maybe, just maybe see that someone could possibly make a connection between the Ten Commandments and an actual law like the Constitution (although the connection would be tenuous at best and whoever did this would have a hell of a time making the case), but the Declaration of Independence isn’t a law at all, but rather just a declaration of separation, so I really see no influence. The Declaration doesn’t codify anything the citizens should be doing, like the Ten Commandments do for Christianity. The Declaration does mention a higher being, but in most academia I have read, it seems to refer to a kind of deistic god, and, in any case, a mention of God does not imply any influence by any specific religious text, much less the Ten Commandments. I don’t see the connection here at all.

  • Drakk

    How ironic that right next to the Ten Commandments is a piece of paper with the words “Religious Freedom” on it.

    Hypocrisy does know no bounds.

  • rabe

    “… the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” – George Washington, Article XI, Treaty of Tripoli, passed by Congress in 1797

  • Phoebe

    None of our gov’t documents from the founding days mention that we should have no other gods before the Christian god. They don’t mention the 10 commandments at all.

    I agree with Gaylor, of course. It doesn’t matter how many pieces of paper they put around it.

  • I don’t really get why this is so important to Christians. Maybe because if they can slide this one religious exception into our public schools, they can open the floodgates for others. And is it really a good thing to tell our children, “after these five most important things… oh yeah, don’t kill anyone.” It is so creepy to me that this man is an asst. attorney, so smart and all, but is pushing this myth as reality. Really? You can sanely push this as part of history??? THAT is your argument? Maybe he needs another career.

  • Matto the Hun

    “This is a display about the Declaration of Independence, all of the documents that influenced its creation, and the things that came immediately after,” said Lilly.

    No, it’s about weaseling the 10 Commandments into the school.

    What ever happened go thou shalt not bear false witness you silly bitch?

  • ACN

    Yeah, this is hogwash. The 10 Commandments don’t really have much to do with the Declaration of Independence. *Insert my usual ribbing about “which 10 commandments?”* as well.

    Isn’t the Star Spangled Banner like 40+ years after the Declaration? Is that really “immediately” after?

  • The motivation is the same in both cases – illegally push Christianity (not just religion, but a particular religion) into schools. Motivation is the same, illegality is the same…

  • Douglas Kirk

    I think this works if the Ten Commandments do not directly contradict the Bill of Rights (I know, not the Declaration but if it’s not one of the documents on the board that’s soooooo dishonest). Let’s see:

    I) I am the lord thy god, thou shall have no god’s before me.

    “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

    Oh man, couldn’t even make it past the first commandment.

  • Peter Mahoney

    There’s lots of bogus stuff implying something about the 10 commandments being a basis for our USA laws, but that’s a huge fallacy. Only a mere 3 out of the 10 commandments are illegal. (#5, 7, 8: no killing, stealing, or bearing false witness, which are things that even non-Judeo-Christian societies have all easily come up with on their own, no Bible/Yahweh needed).

    Thus, our society only legally endorses a mere 30% of the very things that God/Yahweh reportedly portrayed as his primary or most important “commandments”. Even if we decided by chance/random whether to legally endorse Yahweh’s 10 commandments, we should endorse 50% of them, but we do LESS than that, and rightly so.

    Thus, I would say that as a wise/secular society we have decided that when it comes to having our legal system implement actual real-world laws, we reject 70% of what Yahweh “commanded”.

    I think we are wiser than the bronze-age old buggers who wrote those things. Commandments 1-3 are petty, self-serving, ego-boosters for a deity who has an insecurity complex. Our country explicitly has laws/constitution AGAINST mandating that citizens my honor this god (or any other) and keep any god’s sabbath.

  • Note that until recently most states did have anti-adultery statutes on the books.

  • Scarecrow

    Where is the treaty of tripoli? That was immeditly after the declaration too. 😉

  • Ibis

    I can’t believe this guy is a lawyer. Shouldn’t they have some grasp of legal history?

    Now if he really must post the 10 commandments, the only way it would make sense and not be, you know, illegal, is to post it along with the Code of Hammurabi, Egyptian laws, ancient Persian laws, some ‘barbarian’ laws (like the early codes of the Franks), Greek laws, and some excerpts from the Code of Justinian. Then students could see how closely what they see in the biblical texts resembles the other early law codes of the ancient near east, and how much more sophisticated Roman and Greek laws were.

  • Also note that the military still has anti-adultery laws. It can get you kicked out of the military, although most military members agree that that only happens when someone is angry at the person, usually unrelated to the adultery. It just gives them an excuse, kind of like DADT.

    Also, please note that I think this is a load of bull. Of course it’s about getting religion in school. I spoke to my mom about this recently. I expected her to be in agreement. After all, even though she is rabidly Christian, my parents were always of the opinion that they didn’t want other people teaching their children about religion. After all, their tiny church was the only right way and everyone else was going to hell. Wouldn’t want anyone messing with our heads. BUT, she is on that bandwagon. I was quite disgusted. She thinks that what is wrong with the world is the removal of prayer from school. *sigh*

  • Ibis- That would actually be a really good idea. We study all of those in relation to history, but I’d guess most elementary age (and for that matter many high school age) children have never even heard of most of them.

  • Erik

    OK, so I have a quick question. When did all this nonsense about the US being formed on “Christian Values” really start?

    I mean, I can understand random people arguing that because it was the most pervasive religious belief held at the time, that the founding fathers would have been influenced to an extent, but when did this “Christian Nation” nonsense really become a big rallying cry for the right?

    Would be during the Cold War or is it more recent than that?

  • martha

    I think the religious right really began to grow when a number of southern Democrats defected to the Republican party because of desegregation efforts of the Democrats, especially following the passage of the civil rights act in 1964. The 80s and 90s were big, with the founding of the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family. This really brought religion directly into politics.

  • GregFromCos

    Personally I’m an Omnivore, with a penchant towards being as humane as possible.

    A Temple Grandin quote that I like is: “Nature is Cruel, we don’t have to be.”

    Another question, lets say Science figures out how to grow meat in a lab setting. Would anyone have an issue with meat (as a part of a balanced diet) at that point?

  • Stephen P

    @ACN: actually there’s only one Ten Commandments in the bible: the set in Exodus 35. The ones which Christians love to get worked up about, in Exodus 20, aren’t given any name at all (although some editions insert “Ten Commandments” as an editorial subheading).

  • Miko

    “… the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” – George Washington, Article XI, Treaty of Tripoli, passed by Congress in 1797

    George Washington neither wrote nor signed that treaty.

  • SeniorSkeptik

    Just a couple of questions about the postings by Mr. Lilly:
    1) What is “Lady Justice” and why is it important?
    2) Where is the U.S. Constitution? Or did Mr. Lilly not consider it important enough to post?

  • ACN


    I’m aware, it is an ongoing source of amusement for me 🙂

  • Stephen P

    @ACN: ah, OK – I gather I needed to read your comment with just a little more sarcasm in the tone. 😉

  • JSug

    This display is full of fail. The Mayflower Compact specifically denotes the opposite of the DoI, that the colony was established, at least in part, for the honor of the king. Shouldn’t “Common Sense” be in there somewhere? And obviously I’d really like to hear how he justifies a connection between the 10 commandments and the DoI. Also: Star Spangled Banner? Lady Justice? WTF?

  • rabe07

    My apologies. I had the wrong founding father. Make that John Adams, but the fact that it was an original founder of our government and what the treaty says still stands.

  • They’re trying to be so fair, LOL, but I think they should include the Eleven Rules of Satanism. Don’t want to leave anybody out.

  • BulldogPI

    Hate to tell you, but you don’t have a clue.  I live here, and am a strong believer in separation in Church and state.  Lilly had a brilliant idea in terms of trying to establish a compromise, and whether you want to admit it or not the 10 commandments and the 10 commandments is one of the earliest examples of written law.  All Lilly was doing was trying to find a way to appease both the keep religion out of school groups and the don’t tell us how to run our school groups.  The whole 10 commandments debate got way out of hand here and he was making an effort to keep peace.  Period.  So in short, keep your trap shut when you dont know what the hell you’re babbling about.

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