In what seemed to be a quickly resolved case last December, the Giles County School Board voted to place a copy of the Ten Commandments alongside other so-called historical documents within the schools. Upon hearing about this matter, Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Patrick Elliot fired off a letter to Superintendent Dr. Terry Arborgast. Within the December 8 letter to Superintendent Arborgast was the fact that the Supreme Court explicitly ruled in Stone v. Graham (1980) against schoolroom postings of the Ten Commandments: “The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature.”
Within a few days time, Superintendent Arborgast replied, confirming that the display would be taken down and replaced with something more secular in nature. The matter at hand seemed to be over and done with, or was it?
At yesterday’s Giles County School Board meeting the board voted unanimously 5-0 to overrule Dr. Arborgast’s reasonable decision to remove the display, thus placing the Ten Commandments back within the schools.
“It is so disheartening to see public officials in Virginia—the state that produced Madison and Jefferson—directly flout the law and violate the constitutionally required separation between religion and government,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, foundation co-president.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging concerned parents and citizens who might consider serving as plaintiffs to contact FFRF at (608) 256-8900 or email@example.com. Gaylor said the group would seek a protective order to protect the identity of families involved. But she added: “When the Supreme Court has spoken directly to this violation, it should not be necessary to keep fighting the same battle!”
Contact for the Giles County School Board is as follows:
Giles County Public School Board
151 School Road
Pearisburg VA 24134
Phone: (540) 921-1421, Ext. 10
Fax: (540) 921-1424
To e-mail the entire board: firstname.lastname@example.org
FFRF also requests that people please send a thank you to Superintendent Abrogast for holding firm:
Dr. Terry Abrogast, II
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