Groups Promise Lawsuit if Giles County School Board Orders Reposting of Ten Commandments
School board expected to vote on June 7 on whether to place Ten Commandments on school walls, along with other historical documents
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; email@example.com
Giles County, VA— The ACLU of Virginia and the Freedom From Religion Foundation today warned the Giles County School Board not to follow through with a proposal to mount displays featuring the Ten Commandments and several historical documents in public schools. The two religious rights groups say they intend to file a lawsuit challenging the displays if they are authorized by the school board.
“The Ten Commandments were clearly placed in Giles County public schools to promote religion, and that violates the First Amendment of the Constitution,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “School board members can’t now camouflage their religious purpose by hiding the Ten Commandments among other documents.”
According to recent news reports, the school board is voting on June 7 on whether to post in all schools displays that would include the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, the Magna Carta, Lady Justice, and the National Anthem.
For years, Giles County schools posted side-by-side copies of the Ten Commandments and the U.S. Constitution, but after complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation last fall, the school superintendent ordered them taken down. The school board, however, in a meeting attended by 200 residents urging restoration of the display, voted to overturn the superintendent’s decision. Only after the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened litigation did the school board reverse itself and order the Ten Commandments taken down again.
In the letter emailed this morning, ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg and Freedom From Religion Foundation Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott note that the Ten Commandments has sometimes been allowed in public buildings when it is part of a secular display. However, the courts have made it clear that when such displays have a religious purpose, they are unconstitutional. The courts have been especially sensitive to such displays in public schools, where government promotion of religion is most strictly prohibited. Today’s letter can be found at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/20110601GilesCoSchoolBoardL….
A copy of an earlier letter sent to the Giles County School Board can be found online at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/ACLU-FFRF-letter-to-school-….
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.
The latest in Religious Liberty
Saucon Valley School District Must Allow After School Satan Club to Meet at District Facilities, ACLU Warns
West Virginia Lawmakers are Pushing Public Schools to Teach Creationism
ACLU Comment on Biden Administration Proposed Partial Repeal of Rule Allowing Refusals in Health Care
Religious Discrimination Persists in Zoning Proceedings, Despite Strong Legal Protections
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
Learn More About Religious Liberty
The ACLU strives to safeguard the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty by ensuring that laws and governmental practices neither promote religion nor interfere with its free exercise.