Ten Commandments mural covered by flag at school

A Ten Commandments mural at O’Donnell (Texas) High School was covered with dark paper after the school got a letter from FFRF challenging the constitutionality of the painting.

Shortly thereafter, the paper covering was torn down by the students. School staff then placed an American flag over the mural, hoping no one would rip that down. So far the flag remains up, but students have been posting sticky notes around the flag with bible verses and faith-based messages.

O’Donnell School District Superintendent Cathy Amonett even went so far as holding a school assembly that day so she could explain that the covering was due to fear of a lawsuit by FFRF.

While a lawsuit is an option, it’s is not the preferred choice and is normally a last resort. FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent the letter Sept. 7 to the school, asking for a written response on what steps it will take next. “By displaying a religious message in its entryway, O’Donnell ISD infringes on its students’ constitutionally protected religious freedom,” he wrote in the letter.

“The whole point is to educate the school district on why this is illegal and ask that they voluntarily remove the display,” Grover said. “At this point, we’re very hopeful the school district will do the right thing.”

But Amonett isn’t sure yet what the school will do.

“The next step is I’m going to do some more investigation,” she said, “and get with the school leadership, and the community, and the students, and we will decide what we need to do to protect the school, while also honoring it.”

Texas state Sen. Charles Perry even got involved, stating, “I am proud of the hundreds of students at O’Donnell that are standing up for their faith and starting a movement to save the Ten Commandments at their school. Our office is working to ensure the school is in touch with the necessary experts to explain their rights and determine a plan of action.”

So far, the school is not taking further action. At a public forum on Sept. 13, all of the speakers (students and residents) were in favor of keeping the mural up. But, as Grover points out, “Everyone’s not happy with it. First of all, because someone locally contacted us . . . Our constitutional rights in this country are not subject to majority rule. The Constitution protects from the tyranny of majority rule.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation