The school officials in Jamestown, Tennessee have a problem. Actually, they *had* a problem. Then they fixed the problem. Then they decided they didn’t like the solution so they screwed everything up again.
I’ll back up.
Pine Haven Elementary school used to display the Ten Commandments everywhere:
“As far as I know, there was one in every classroom,” said the school’s custodian, Michell Waters. “They were in the hallways, so they were throughout the whole school.”
Seemed like a good idea… since all six-year-olds need to know that the Sabbath Day must be kept holy, that there is no God but the Christian one, and that you’re not supposed to fuck someone you’re not married to…
Last September, someone spoke up and the Commandments were taken down. But not without Principal Daryl Rains confusing the church he pastors at with the public school he works at:
Principal Rains says he is in full support of having the Ten Commandments up at the school. He hopes current state legislation will allow the Ten Commandments to be restored to the halls.
“God has blessed Pine Haven school because he knew we could handle it,” said Rains. “He knew I could handle it. I’m not bragging. I’m bragging on God.”
“I would like to see the Ten Commandments put back up,” added Waters. “I would like for them to be displayed… We just want our kids to know they can believe the way we want to believe and know that we were offended when they are taken down.“
The legislation he’s referring to would allow historical documents in public buildings… and isn’t necessarily legal:
“This bill is inviting Tennessee governments to walk into a constitutional minefield and risk litigation,” said Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which wrote a letter of opposition to [Tennessee state Rep. Matthew] Hill’s legislation.
The bill passed, and that’s all the approval the school board needed to put copies of the Ten Commandments in four elementary schools and one high school in the district (alongside the Star-Spangled Banner and the also-godly Pledge of Allegiance):
“For this community it’s a wonderful thing,” Jamestown Church of Christ minister Phil Adams said. “This community was very upset when they were taken out. They are historical documents. They are from our founding. They are who we are as a people. They belong there.”
They don’t belong there because we’ve never taken our legal cues from the Commandments. Only two of the Commandments are enshrined in our laws and, even then, it’s not like everyone was ok with killing and stealing until the Ten Commandments came along and people suddenly realized they were bad ideas. At least half of the Commandments have absolutely no business in a public school, much less an elementary school.
This community cares nothing about its children because they would rather throw taxpayer money toward fighting an unnecessary legal battle instead of spending it on the children in the district. It’s irresponsible and selfish. Residents should be ashamed of their elected officials. (Also, how many of these residents and community leaders do you think can even recite the Ten Commandments?)
Legally speaking, this could go either way, depending on whether courts see the display as promoting religion or as one of many “historical” documents. But keep in mind the Giles County School Board in Virginia just settled their case (in other words, they lost it) and had to take down their Ten Commandments display even though it was surrounded by the Declaration of Independence, the Star-Spangled Banner, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
They lost some money, too:
[U.S. District Court Judge Michael] Urbanski’s approval of the settlement ended the long and contentious dispute. In addition to assurances that the Ten Commandments would not be reposted in school, the settlement agreement kept the protective order in effect. The school board or a third party would pay to cover the plaintiffs’ legal costs ($6,511). Each side is responsible for their own attorney fees.
I’ll say what the school board refuses to admit: They don’t give a shit about the Commandments. This is all about pushing their Christian God back into schools. And if they get away with this, they’re not going to stop there.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)