Victory! FFRF keeps Minn. school district free from Ten Commandments

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has successfully prevented a Minnesota school district from adopting a proposed Ten Commandments monument.

In May, FFRF wrote a letter to Park Rapids Area Schools to encourage the district not to approve a proposal from former board member Dennis Dodge to erect a Ten Commandments monument on school property. The proposal included the biblical edicts on one side, and a quote from Dodge on the other side, reading, “We must put God back into our educational system before we lose our children and this great nation.”

Ironically, Dodge’s proposal only included nine commandments, omitting the commandment about graven images.

FFRF Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow Hirsh M. Joshi noted that the scheme was patently unconstitutional. In the seminal case on Ten Commandments displays in schools — Stone v. Graham — the U.S. Supreme Court held that Ten Commandments displays in public schools violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

Thankfully, the Park Rapids School Board made the correct call.

A recent article from the Park Rapids Enterprise detailed numerous statements from the community opposing the proposal. Board Treasurer Jay Pike stated that he spoke with four ministers, only one of whom supported the proposal. Due to the overwhelming community opposition, as well as the potential legal consequences of the display, the board unanimously voted on Monday, June 3, to deny Dodge’s proposal.

FFRF is pleased to see the First Amendment winning out over religious hectoring.

“Children are a captive audience in our public schools, who are owed a secular education free from proselytization,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The right of students to be protected from religious indoctrination at a public school should always be a school district’s priority.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 800 members and two chapters in Minnesota. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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