Home / News / Federal district judge wants to make the 10 commandments Establishment Clause compliant–by cutting out the four that mention God
Federal district judge wants to make the 10 commandments Establishment Clause compliant–by cutting out the four that mention God

Federal district judge wants to make the 10 commandments Establishment Clause compliant–by cutting out the four that mention God

We reported last September about the ACLU lawsuit against the Giles County, VA school board, who challenged a display of historical documents, including the 10 Commandments that were on the wall of one of the county's high schools.   While being a hot topic in the conservative county, the case seems to have taken a rather unintentionally humorous turn.  A federal district judge who has sent the case into mediation thinks he has the answer to the whole problem–just cut out the four commandments that refer to God. NECN.com reports:

Media outlets report that instead of making a ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski urged both sides to consider whether the display could leave out four commandments that have "God" in the wording.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia had sued on behalf of a student to remove the Ten Commandments from Narrows High School, saying it violates the First Amendment's protection against government endorsement of religion.

The Giles County School Board, represented by Liberty Counsel, argued the Ten Commandments are part of a larger presentation that includes other historical documents.

Both sides wanted the judge to rule in the case without going to trial.

"I just wonder if there isn't a reasonable compromise," said Urbanski, who could still rule if the two sides don't come to an agreement.

 The school board is arguing that the display was put up by a private citizen, and so was not paid for by public monies.

The Ten Commandments have had a lengthy history in the conservative, rural area. The county's two high schools and three elementary/middle schools had posted the Ten Commandments for more than a decade. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, the ACLU's co-counsel in the lawsuit, objected to the displays in 2010 and requested their removal. School officials replaced them with the Declaration of Independence.

After a public outcry by ministers and local residents who wanted the schools to reflect their Christian beliefs, the school board unanimously voted in January 2011 to put the Ten Commandments back up — but removed them again the following month after Liberty Counsel attorneys advised them about such displays in the context of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another.

 

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • Deborah_B

    I can't wait to see how Liberty Counsel will react to that suggestion … they are going to go ballistic.

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