It’s hard to imagine there’s anything else happening in the country right now, but a North Carolina school district is considering placing Ten Commandments displays in all 30 buildings.
The idiotic idea is courtesy of Cleveland County School Board member Ron Humphries:
The school board would like to see the Ten Commandments placed “in a prominent place at or near the main entrance to all of our campuses,” said school board member Ron Humphries, who introduced the resolution.
Such a display would be permitted under a law enacted in the early 2000s by the state legislature, Humphries said.
It’s not clear from the meeting’s minutes what the purpose of this would be other than to waste time and potentially start a legal battle. I know COVID has us stuck inside, but getting the district embroiled in lawsuits or controversy because you have nothing better to do with your time would hurt the students and serve no useful purpose.
As for the legal problems, while one other board member raised those concerns, she later voted in favor of drafting a policy in support of the displays. Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation is warning the district against this foolish move. They say that even if state law permits the display, federal law prohibits it.
“The district can be sued for violating the Establishment Clause even if it is following North Carolina law,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes. “It would be a flagrant violation for the school board to require all of its schools to display the Ten Commandments.”
The Supreme Court has clearly instructed public schools, “Thou shalt not display the Ten Commandments.” “The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature,” the high court ruled in 1980 and reaffirmed in 2005.
Humphries said this would not be a stand-alone Christian display. It would likely be surrounded by other displays of “historical significance” (like the Mayflower Compact). But FFRF says that’s not a good excuse because the Supreme Court case allowing that collection of displays outside a government building specifically did not apply to a public school.
The Court distinguished that case from the school context. Justice Breyer wrote, “This case, moreover, is distinguishable from instances where the Court has found Ten Commandments displays impermissible. The display is not on the grounds of a public school, where, given the impressionability of the young, government must exercise particular care in separating church and state.”
Even besides the legal issues, there’s just no reason to bother with this. What will the kids learn by seeing the display? That they shouldn’t work on the Sabbath? That they shouldn’t worship false idols? If students need a reminder not to kill, the district has much bigger problems to deal with.
It’s just an absurd thing to do — especially when school districts are struggling to deal with the pandemic.
(Screenshot via Livestream)