Giles County (Virginia) School Board Takes Down Ten Commandments Display

Last time we heard from Giles County, Virginia, a Ten Commandments display was going up in Macy McClaugherty Elementary/Middle School and others in the district.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation told Superintendent Terry E. Arbogast this was illegal and he informed them he would take it down immediately. (Shocking, I know!)

But soon after that, the school board unanimously voted to reverse his decisions.

That was a month ago and there is now some happy news to report.

The pressure worked! First, a couple families decided to sign on to a lawsuit:

Two Giles County families with children in public school will force the issue into court as plaintiffs, according to Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation. The foundation will work jointly with the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia to represent the families.

“Plaintiffs with children in the schools have come forward,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion’s co-president, said on the organization’s Feb. 12 radio program.

“They’re our heroes.”

And that was all it took! Yesterday, the school board voted to take down the Commandments.

In a specially called meeting this morning that required no advance notice, the Giles County School Board voted to remove the Ten Commandments from the walls of the county’s five schools and technology center.

Officials in Giles County Public Schools, acting on a school board vote, removed controversial displays of the Ten Commandments this morning from various buildings, said Amanda Tickle, board clerk and executive secretary in the school system.

The board voted during a 7:30 a.m. special meeting, Tickle said.

It’s as if they knew they would lose the lawsuit because what they were doing was illegal…

FFRF is threatening to still continue with the lawsuit (just to keep the school board members on their toes), but my hunch is if the Commandments stay down (for real), they won’t go through with it:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said today the organization was evaluating today’s development.

“We’re still readying our lawsuit,” she said. “We were planning to file this week, but this may delay it a little bit, I don’t know.”

In any case, the Commandments that shouldn’t have been up at all are no longer there. That’s what happens when atheists step up and are ready to fight.

It’s a reminder that in just about all of these First Amendment lawsuits, we’re on the right side of the issues, and the religious side is wrong. If only atheist parents and teachers and leaders always had the courage to put their name onto a lawsuit, a lot of these problems would never happen in the first place. I know that’s easier said than done, but I have a lot of respect for anyone willing to stand up for the law in cases like this.

(Thanks to Sean for the link!)

  • Ashley Chamberlain

    Smyth County here in Virginia is now debating on putting them up their schools. Crazy isn’t it? What is with my fellow Virginians?

  • J. R. Braden

    Even though a lot of religious bullcrap around my old hometown shows up in the news, it always seems weird to me to see it covered on blogs around the nation. I should be used to SW Virginia being a national disgrace by now.

  • Meredith

    This was on the Richmond Times Dispatch Facebook page yesterday. There were 100+ comments with 90% of them stating how this was a Christian nation and the “God haters” should shut their mouths. It made me pretty sad for the state of VA and all of the ‘normal’ people that live here.

  • http://askanatheist.tv/ pinkocommie

    I wonder how much money is required for the FFRF to initiate a lawsuit? The fact that the school board immediately reversed its decision to put up the 10 commandments once a lawsuit was filed should make it difficult for the school board to prove they didn’t know what they were doing was illegal. If these actions cost the FFRF very much money (I have no idea) or I guess ANY money, I think the school board should reimburse them for the cost since the school board pushed it to that point.

    I hate to suggest going after school money in this economic climate, but I also think its important that these stunts aren’t ignored. The FFRF shouldn’t have to pay for this because the school board ought to have adhered to the law in the first place.

  • Sarah Naut

    Still embarrassed to be from Southwest VA as this never should have been an issue and many of the comments left on local media websites are far from pretty.

    I am so very glad the GCSB voted to take the commandments down though!

  • Andrew

    I don’t understand how they wouldn’t be able to follow through with the lawsuit since the act has already been committed. If you steal gum from the gas station and find out they called the police, you can’t just go take it back and expect no repercussions.

  • KimchiGUN

    I’m a Washington DC native that lives in Southwest Virginia.

    The weirdest thing I’ve seen is everyone down here goes to church. Most go because there’s blood line running through the veins of those churches. There’s churches every 5 miles, there’s churches across the street from each other.

    I work with some of those people that were shown on TV. They don’t know the bible, they’re programmed to defend the bible cuz “momma, daddy, and grandma said so”.

  • http://girlofthegaps.blogspot.com/ Nicole Schrand

    Oh, Virginia. How happy I will be to leave you.

    Good on Giles County for taking the commandments down, though (even if it was due to the threat of legal action). Let’s hope they stay down this time.

  • http://www.eurovisionamerica.com Michael (SQFreak)

    With the election of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and all the crap he’s been pulling, I’ve given up on Virginia ever being a valid state. It’s so politically schizophrenic that it’s impossible to pin down.

  • Kris

    Do you know what freedom of religion? It means you can have religion or you can be atheist. What about the kids rights to have the commandments put up? Its pretty pathetic that all it took was two familys to start this lawsuit. Whats sad is theres more christians than atheist but none of us will stand up for what we believe like you do. Whats so bad about the commandments. Wouldnt all of you agree they are good to go by?

  • JoanSWVA

    The school board voted to put back up the 10 commandments in early June–guess the fight goes on.


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