If you walk into the auditorium in Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia, Ohio, you’ll see this Ten Commandments plaque… for some strange reason.
There’s no explanation of it. There’s no context. It’s just a Christian display that says things like “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and other examples of religious nonsense.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling for the district to remove the illegal religious display:
“The District’s promotion of the Judeo-Christian bible and religion over non-religion impermissibly turns any non-Christian or non-believing student, parent or staff member into an outsider,” writes FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line to New Philadelphia City Schools. “Schoolchildren already feel significant pressure to conform from their peers. They must not be subjected to similar pressure from their school, especially on religious questions.”
“The First Commandment alone is reason why public schools may not endorse the Commandments,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Students in our public schools are free to have any god they like, as many gods as they like — or none at all! In America, we live under the First Amendment, not the First Commandment.”
Remember that when a Pennsylvania school settled a legal battle over an actual Ten Commandments monument in 2017, they had to pay attorneys’ fees of $163,500. This school in Ohio is heading down that same path if they don’t fix this problem now.
***Update***: Now we know how it got there:
New Philadelphia Superintendent David Brand explains that there are currently looking into the matter over the Ten Commandment display, which was presented from a graduating class.
“This plaque was a gift from the Class of 1926 and it’s been in place since the 1920s when that portion of the middle school/high school was opened. We are currently reviewing all of our options. Trying to do that due diligence to make the best decision for our students, the district, and the community.”
Tradition shouldn’t be the school’s excuse for leaving this Christian plaque up. It was a bad idea then, even if no one said it out loud. It’s a bad idea now.