Ohio school forced to take down 92-year-old Ten Commandments plaque because it violates First Amendment
The religious plaque was gifted by the class of 1926 and was displayed near the auditorium entrance of the New Philadelphia school
A middle school in Ohio removed a 1920s-era Ten Commandments plaque from the institution after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) complained about it.
The foundation advocates nontheism and strong segregation between the church and the state.
The Wisconsin-based group reportedly called the ancient plaque at the Joseph Welty Middle School a 'flagrant violation' of the First Amendment.
According to the group, a concerned district parent complained to the FFRF that the plaque was displayed near the auditorium entrance of the New Philadelphia school.
FFRF representative Christopher Line, in a letter to the school, said, "The district’s promotion of the Judeo-Christian Bible and religion over nonreligion impermissibly turns any non-Christian or non-believing student into an outsider. Schoolchildren already feel significant pressure to conform to their peers. They must not be subjected to similar pressure from their schools, especially on religious questions."
Reports state that the religious plaque was gifted by the class of 1926 to the middle school. The plaque, however, has been removed from the building, school officials said, according to Fox News.
Brian J. DeSantis, an attorney representing the school district, in an email to FFRF, said: "In speaking with the district, it is my understanding that the plaque has been taken down and is no longer on display on district property."
The group welcomed it and FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote: "We applaud the district for taking action to remedy this violation. Students in our public schools are free to practice any religion they choose — or none at all. In America, we live under the First Amendment, not the Ten Commandments."
New Philadelphia schools superintendent David Brand released a statement saying he disagreed with the group's approach.
"With over 90 years on display, the plaque is recognized as part of the tradition and history of New Philadelphia City Schools,” Brand said in a statement to Times Reporter, adding that he plans to challenge the decision.
"Rather than engaging FFRF in an action where the community’s resources are at stake, the district will consider filing an amicus brief in a forthcoming case on the matter," he said.
The deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, Jeremy Dys, said displaying the Ten Commandments at the school was 'presumptively constitutional.'
The institute recently successfully litigated Washington DC's Bladensburg Peace Memorial Cross case in the Supreme Court in June.
"We've got the Supreme Court, 6-3, that says the display of the Ten Commandments are welcomed on public property, including schools," Dys told Fox News. "The city of New Philadelphia Schools should put the display back up."