92-Year-Old 'Ten Commandments' Plaque Removed From School After Atheists Complain

A plaque of the Ten Commandments was removed from an Ohio middle school following complaints by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist nonprofit founded by activists and Democratic donors Annie Laurie Gaylor and husband Dan Barker. 

According to Fox News, officials at Joseph Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia, Ohio removed the tablet after FFRF complained that the ancient biblical edicts might make some students feel uncomfortable. 

"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," said FFRF representative Christopher Line in an April letter to the school, adding "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." 

The plaque was gifted to the school by the class of 1926. 

"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," said the school district's attorney, Brian J. DeSantis, in a June 19 email to FFRF

The FFRF celebrated the decision. 

"We applaud the district for taking action to remedy this violation," said Gaylor in a statement. "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." 

Not everyone agrees with FFRF's approach, including Philadelphia Schools Superintendent David Brand. 

"With over 90 years on display, the plaque is recognized as part of the tradition and history of New Philadelphia City Schools," Brand told the Times Reporter

Brand laments the "costs" it would be on local taxpayers and the "burden" on school officials. He said 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.

Jeremy Dys, deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, which recently successfully litigated the Bladensburg Peace Memorial Cross case at the Supreme Court in June, told Fox News that about the same day the school took this down was when the highest court said this was "presumptively constitutional." -Fox News

"We've got the Supreme Court, 6-3, that says the display of the Ten Commandments are welcomed on public property, including schools," says Dys, adding "The city of New Philadelphia Schools should put the display back up."