Freethought Today · May 2013

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Letter brings Oklahoma commandments down

An Oklahoma school district learned a valuable lesson thanks to FFRF and its student complainant. On May 1, FFRF sent a letter to Muldrow Public Schools Superintendent Ron Flanagan asking for removal of numerous Ten Commandments in classrooms.

Gage Pulliam, a student at Muldrow High School, had told FFRF the commandments placards were in every classroom.

Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott informed Flanagan the displays flagrantly violated the Establishment Clause and ignored Supreme Court precedent. Some teachers initially refused to take down the commandments, but FFRF was informed by the school district’s attorney that they had all been removed by May 10.

“This was a shocking and egregious violation,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “This is settled law.”

At the May 12 School Board meeting, Flanagan told an overflow crowd that the plaques were removed. “We understood some did not agree with that decision. As a school district, we have an obligation to demonstrate respect and adherence to the law.”

Flanagan said the school district’s attorney advised the board that FFRF would prevail in a lawsuit.

Fox News reported there were about 100 plaques donated by residents in district classrooms. Muldrow’s population is about 3,500.

“People think I’m attacking their religion,” Pulliam told 5-News. “I’m really not. I’m trying to help others so they can feel equal in a world, in a town. I just want them to feel equal.”

Flanagan said the plaques are stored in his office, adding that they’ll likely be returned to donors. He said he respects all the students, including Pulliam, for standing up for what they believe in.

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