Tennessee School Officials Post Ten Commandments in County Schools

The school officials in Jamestown, Tennessee have a problem. Actually, they *had* a problem. Then they fixed the problem. Then they decided they didn’t like the solution so they screwed everything up again.

I’ll back up.

Pine Haven Elementary school used to display the Ten Commandments everywhere:

As far as I know, there was one in every classroom,” said the school’s custodian, Michell Waters. “They were in the hallways, so they were throughout the whole school.”

Seemed like a good idea… since all six-year-olds need to know that the Sabbath Day must be kept holy, that there is no God but the Christian one, and that you’re not supposed to fuck someone you’re not married to…

Last September, someone spoke up and the Commandments were taken down. But not without Principal Daryl Rains confusing the church he pastors at with the public school he works at:

Principal Daryl Rains

Principal Rains says he is in full support of having the Ten Commandments up at the school. He hopes current state legislation will allow the Ten Commandments to be restored to the halls.

“God has blessed Pine Haven school because he knew we could handle it,” said Rains. “He knew I could handle it. I’m not bragging. I’m bragging on God.”

“I would like to see the Ten Commandments put back up,” added Waters. “I would like for them to be displayed… We just want our kids to know they can believe the way we want to believe and know that we were offended when they are taken down.

The legislation he’s referring to would allow historical documents in public buildings… and isn’t necessarily legal:

This bill is inviting Tennessee governments to walk into a constitutional minefield and risk litigation,” said Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which wrote a letter of opposition to [Tennessee state Rep. Matthew] Hill’s legislation.

The bill passed, and that’s all the approval the school board needed to put copies of the Ten Commandments in four elementary schools and one high school in the district (alongside the Star-Spangled Banner and the also-godly Pledge of Allegiance):

“For this community it’s a wonderful thing,” Jamestown Church of Christ minister Phil Adams said. “This community was very upset when they were taken out. They are historical documents. They are from our founding. They are who we are as a people. They belong there.”

They don’t belong there because we’ve never taken our legal cues from the Commandments. Only two of the Commandments are enshrined in our laws and, even then, it’s not like everyone was ok with killing and stealing until the Ten Commandments came along and people suddenly realized they were bad ideas. At least half of the Commandments have absolutely no business in a public school, much less an elementary school.

This community cares nothing about its children because they would rather throw taxpayer money toward fighting an unnecessary legal battle instead of spending it on the children in the district. It’s irresponsible and selfish. Residents should be ashamed of their elected officials. (Also, how many of these residents and community leaders do you think can even recite the Ten Commandments?)

Legally speaking, this could go either way, depending on whether courts see the display as promoting religion or as one of many “historical” documents. But keep in mind the Giles County School Board in Virginia just settled their case (in other words, they lost it) and had to take down their Ten Commandments display even though it was surrounded by the Declaration of Independence, the Star-Spangled Banner, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

They lost some money, too:

[U.S. District Court Judge Michael] Urbanski’s approval of the settlement ended the long and contentious dispute. In addition to assurances that the Ten Commandments would not be reposted in school, the settlement agreement kept the protective order in effect. The school board or a third party would pay to cover the plaintiffs’ legal costs ($6,511). Each side is responsible for their own attorney fees.

I’ll say what the school board refuses to admit: They don’t give a shit about the Commandments. This is all about pushing their Christian God back into schools. And if they get away with this, they’re not going to stop there.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • littlejohn

    We’ve certainly taken more than two of our laws from the Ten Commandments. Perjury (bearing false witness) is illegal. And under the U.S. Military Code, adultery is illegal. Some states, such as my own Indiana, have blue laws (You can’t buy package booze or beer on Sunday) that clearly are intended to honor the sabbath. The blue laws are unconstitutional, in my opinion, but they’re there. But I agree with your general point that the Decalogue doesn’t belong in public schools.

    • Jenny

      “Coinciding with” does not necessarily mean “taken from.” Our laws are based on secular humanist principles (especially those arising from Enlightenment philosophy). We didn’t need the Ten Commandments to realize that killing, stealing, and lying were unethical and bad for society. The idea of treating others as you would like to be treated is not unique to the Judeo-Christian religious tradition.

    • Annie

       Nope.  Bearing false witness is only illegal in very isolated circumstances (like the one you mentioned).  I can go around lying all day long if I want to… it may show I can’t be trusted, but it won’t land me in jail. And again, adultery is only illegal in isolated circumstances.  Thankfully, the booze ban on Sundays is being lifted all around the US (I can now buy a bottle of wine at 11 am when I do my Sunday morning shopping). 

      To say that these laws are “taken from the Ten Commandments” is a bit misleading too.  Cultures that have never even heard of the 10C manage to realize all on their own that killing and stealing are big no-nos.

      • Isilzha

        Actually, some cultures have very different ideas about possessions, ownership and theft then we do.  Some have very lose concepts about what belongs to whom and when it’s OK to take an object for one’s own use. 

        • Annie

           True, and some have very loose ideas about ownership (which leads to different ideas regarding the concept of stealing).

    • Baby_Raptor

      Various cultures had laws exactly like the 10 Commandments before Moses ever touched a chisel. Nothing was taken from the 10 commandments…The 10 Commandments stole already existing social norms.

      • Wild Rumpus

        Actually the 10 commandments took 6 already existing social norms and then added 4 more based on beleif in the supernatural.

        I still don’t get why they don’t list other crimes that are against social norms like 11 – don’t marry your cousin 12 – don’t fuck little boys…

  • http://twitter.com/NontheistCentra Nontheist Central

    They can make whatever state bills they want.  FEDERAL law supersedes  that, therefore, they still can’t display religious ANYTHING in any federally-funded building, unless they are displaying religious things from ALL religions.  Why is this simple rule so hard for people to understand?  Sorry, but it’s not a violation of your free speech when  people oppose.  It’s a violation of their right to not have religion shoved down their throats.

    • Rwlawoffice

      Better tell that to the supreme court so they can remove the ten commandments from the supreme court building

      • 3lemenope

        Wait, are you referring to the roman numerals which actually represent the Bill of Rights (at least, so says the guy who carved them), or the figure of Moses among other lawgivers holding blank tablets?

        • Rwlawoffice

          The figure of Moses holding the ten commandments among other law givers as well as others on the doors. The one you are referring to as being the bill of rights is different then these two. Dont misunderstand, I believe the supreme court will call this a non religious historical depiction, just like apparently the tennessee law allows.

          • 3lemenope

            Not least because the actual commandments themselves (i.e. the text thereof) appear exactly nowhere.

  • mikespeir

    Well, then I want the Magna Carta and the Code of Hammurabi up in the halls, too.  Give me a sec and I’ll think of some more historical documents.

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      They want historical documents?  They can take that down and put up the Bill of Rights.

      • mikespeir

        Yep.  And I want at least equal billing for it.  If it doesn’t get equal billing, I want to know why.

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    “We just want our kids to know they can believe the way we want to believe”
    Translation: Jeeeeeeebus is the ONLY gawd!  Dontcha gawdless heathens KNOW that?  Daaaaaaaayummmm, Imma gonna make sure YOUR kiddies as well as mine believe in the aaaaallllllmighty GAWD and JEEBUS!  

    Ugh, that hurt typing it… and I used to live in Tennessee, so I’ve heard my share of the “witnessing”.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      The Smokies are awesome though.

  • gski

     Quoting Rains “We just want our kids to know they can believe the way we want to believe…”That says it, the kids can believe what we want them to believe.

    • Lutz Biedinger

      Let me paraphrase: As far as I’m concerned, you can do what I want you to do.
      youdontsay.jpg

  • Good and Godless

    Observing Principle Eagle’s bookshelf is not exactly indicating he can handle reading anything that is very long. 

    Not a guy who finishes the bible, or reads all the Amendments to the constitution, let alone the supporting court rulings. 

    Unfortunately regurgitating the puerile nonsense from a religious indoctrination is indicative of the underlying poisoning of intellects by the church and recently the republicans.It is unfair this avenue for social treason was not fully excluded when the 1st Amendment was drafted. It is time to correct that flaw left by our founding fathers and end constraints imposed by myth and superstition.

    • Lee Miller

      You don’t need no more than the Bible.  That’s God’s holy book and everything what’s important is in there.  Reading all that other stuff just messes with the truth.  God damn liberals think they know everything.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kim-Darnell/1625345854 Kim Darnell

        Um…the Bible is MAN’S take on what God wanted…what God meant when He did everything…written many, many years ago. Like the ancients tried to explain about the their world with mythology, these men did the same w/the Bible.

        NO ONE knows what God’s plan is…again, it is ALL theory and conjecture.

        Besides, these founding fathers of our country did something great when they decided to find this country…they also allowed for the continuence of slavery…slaves counting as 3/5ths of a person…so let’s not make them out to be so freaking wonderful.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Might want to check your snark meter. At least, I hope. 

      • Isilzha

        The god of the bible is a nasty, cruel, vindictive, ego-maniacal, genocidal, psychopath who directs his follows to do evil deeds in his name (like bash the heads of babies against rocks, stone disobedient children and go around raping young girls).   THAT is the truth!

      • Bubbee

        Taking Gods name in vane there Lee?? Great God fearing person u r!!! And by the way , exactly which Bible is the definitive one? I’m sure the Bible I read is not quite the same as yours! What makes the Christian Bible the absolute? If I don’t believe in the New Testament, I suppose that makes me as bad as the Athiests posting here too huh?

  • Guest

    This issue is always an interesting one.  I find myself actually agreeing with those who don’t think the ten commandments should be in our school, and yet I find myself disagreeing with most of the reasons they give.  The fundamentalist flavored contempt and sneering at those religious folks who may disagree, in addition to some pretty liberal spins on the history of the country’s foundations, sometimes makes me second guess my thought that they shouldn’t be displayed. 

    • Jenny

      What “liberal spins” on the country’s foundations are you referring to? Surely you are not suggesting that the Founding Fathers were bible thumpers! There is ample evidence to counter such claims.

      • Guest

        No,  I’m suggesting that the modern ‘either they were secular enlightened philosophers or bible thumpers, one or the other’ distinction is a myth.  That’s a line they would never have understood.  The vast majority where, in fact, quite religious.  We, naturally, focus on the minority that were to varying degrees not holders of traditional religious beliefs of the age.  But the fact is, they were products of their time, which included a healthy dose of many different beliefs wrapped into one.  Again, it’s a testimony to our age that we demand everyone either have a star on their belly or not.  And it is probably to our detriment that we do so.

        • http://twitter.com/henryelizabeth hen

          The vast majority may have been religious, though the minority you’re speaking of here includes some of the most prominent thinkers and shapers, but the vast majority did supported freedom of religion, and codified -that- into the laws where they could have insisted on Christian nation.  I agree that some of the responses can be sneering, but a lot of them come from bad experiences growing up or living in areas where Christianity is the dominant religion to the point that one feels constantly bullied and belittled not being Christian, or not being part of the prominent sect, and that’s mostly what I want to not happen here.  Putting the commandments up in schools doesn’t do much for the majority of students, who, in a state like Tennessee, are already Christian, but taking them down does give a little breathing room and a little respect to the minority of students who aren’t Christian.  I’m not demanding that anyone have a star on any belly: I’m demanding that if I have kids, I choose the path of their religious education.  Not the school, not the principal, and not the society.  I choose what they learn as children in the hopes of best preparing them to become capable of deciding what to believe for themselves.

          • Guest

            True, to a point.  But I want the documents of our heritage on display, all of them.  And heck, let’s have the various versions of the ten commandments up, too.  I’m all for exposing kids to the information and letting them conclude what they will.  As for treatment, I’m sure that it has been bad, and it’s probably been bad in different areas.  Wherever something becomes a majority, the minority usually suffers.  But two wrongs after all.  I certainly wouldn’t want schools teaching religion.  Given the job that they are doing teaching anything else today, that’s one topic that doesn’t need put onto the list of things mangled by the US education system. 

            Oh, and certainly some of the founders we focus on were brilliant, but many were, and even those few had a great variety of ideals about religion and its influence.  What they all agreed on was religious liberty. 

            • allein

              “Expose them to the information” in a history or comparative religion class, not by posting religious documents all over the school walls. What a school posts on its walls sends a message of what they think the students should believe. A public school has no business dictating any religious sensibilities children should subscribe to. That is their parents’ job and if they want that to be a part of their school day, they should send them to a private school that is in line with their beliefs.

              I also don’t get the arguments on either side of how religious the founding fathers were or were not. Their personal religious beliefs are entirely irrelevant to the kind of government they set up.

            • Baby_Raptor

              I agree with you in theory, but there’s a time and place for that. Young kids don’t need it. Leave religion to be taught at home unless you’re talking a Comparative Religions class or some such thing. 

          • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

            Nice Seuss reference!

            • allein

              You don’t see enough Sneetches references these days. :)

        • Ken

          Interesting points.  I wonder if what constituted “religious thought” 200 years ago is the same as it is today.  I look at how the Republican Party has mutated in just 30 years, and am stunned.  The particular mix of philosophy and deism that our founding fathers had would be considered flaming liberal now, particularly the bit about the American Revolution, which specifically did not “submit to those appointed by God over you.”

          On another note, I don’t see anyone making “historical artifacts” arguments for Zeus or Odin or Osiris, so if Christianity simply became another mythology, so what?  I don’t see it happening in the next 200 years, but it really is no more special than any other  disenfranchised belief system that a civilization once embraced.  The only real philosophy that has stood the test of time and cultures is “Do unto others…”  The rest are just trying to cash in on the gullible.

    • 3lemenope

      What would be your reasons, if they differ from the ones being given?

      • Guest

        Because it does represent one of many beliefs and world views that culminated in the founding of our nation.  I have no problem with them being displayed somewhere in a school, as long as they are with other writings, including writings that may repudiate them, if those writings are also foundational to our past.  They are a part of our collective cultural heritage, like it or no.  That’s not to say I want them enshrined in our schools, or put up in a way that suggests ‘this is the real truth kids.’  Of course not.  That would be a flagrant violation of the Constitution.  But I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the push to ‘eliminate’.  That’s what the Communists did, and it was a mark of the USSR and other Communist regimes when I was a youngster, that they sought to pull and banish things seen as inappropriate to the State’s wishes.  No, I would see them bundled with a collection of writings that point to the overall trajectory of Western Civilization, but no more.  Denigrating those who see value in them, or believing that the Founding Fathers (TM) were all a bunch of closet atheists who would vote for liberal Democrats if they were alive today, is no different than 6 day creationists explaining that science proves what they believe, if you ignore all the other evidence that doesn’t. 

        • Isilzha

           Exactly how do you get from “keep that crap out of public schools” to “banish it from existence?”

          • Guest

            Studying history.  It usually ends up that way.

            • Isilzha

              Slippery slope, much?  

              • Guest

                There’s a reason the slippery slope is not the fallacy that logic suggests: it happens.  Most of history is the study of someone getting an inch and then eventually trying to seize the mile.

                • Isilzha

                  Yes, perhaps it could happen.  However, there’s no reason to believe that removing religion from public schools will somehow cause the complete fall of society or even create some sort of ‘red invasion’.  There is plenty to suggest that keeping religion out of government will promote equality and freedom for all people (and not just those who are followers of a particular religion).

                • Savoy47

                  That’s the First Commandment of the Blues:  “Don’t Let The Devil Ride”. Because if you let him ride he’s gonna wanna drive.

                • Guest

                  Isilzha,  I didn’t say if we take religion out of public schools society will collapse.  I said if we begin taking things like religion out of public schools, it won’t be long before we’re taking it out of other places.  And then, if history has anything at all to teach us, it won’t be long before other things begin to be taken out.  If there’s one thing history has taught us, it’s that ‘removing things’ for a society is like eating peanuts – once you start, you just can’t stop.

                • Ken

                  So…?  You mean like Zoroastroism?  Wow, I really miss that one.  Or Aztec and Mayan worship services?  Weren’t the Egyptian gods around longer than 2000 years, and nobody cares much anymore.  Why, precisely is Christianity any different?

        • http://twitter.com/henryelizabeth hen

          They’re perfectly legal as part of that bundle, though.  All of these arguments aren’t about the Commandments being taught in historical context, with documents from other religions.  It’s about them being hung up in every single classroom in the school, out of context, as though they were somehow as directly relevant to the founding -as- the Virginia Statutes for Religious Freedom.  I don’t object to anyone learning about this in historical context–I took a religion class in a public high school and was happy to learn about a variety of different religions–but I do object to them being held up for the aim of promoting Judeo-Christianity as a religion rather than as part of history.

          • Guest

            I couldn’t agree more.  I don’t think they should be held up above any other beliefs or documents, but I don’t think they should be denied or shoved outside of the educational establishment, simply because of the religions attached to them. 

            • allein

              I think there is a place for them in the educational establishment (meaning, in a relevant history or other class), but sandwiched between the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegience on a plaque is not it. The phrase, “one of these things is not like the other” came to mind when I was watching that part of the video.

        • Shane Guilkey

          “{Because it does represent one of many beliefs and world views that culminated in the founding of our nation.  I have no problem with them being displayed somewhere in a school, as long as they are with other writings, including writings that may repudiate them, if those writings are also foundational to our past.”

          I agree that these should be in schools. In the library. In books.
          Most schools have them.

          You are only clinging to the last vestiges of your silly beliefs.

  • Hosslinor

    Being an atheist and a resident of Knoxville, TN, this is upsetting. There is no place for religious propaganda in any school in this country regardless of level.

    • Rwlawoffice

      But I suppose you are okay with homosexual propaganda in public schools. Like in Massachusetts where they passed out how to be queer in the 21 st century to middle school and high school kids.

      • BinaryStar

        Do you ever post anything that isn’t hyperbole?

      • Ken

        I think we all already know “how” to be queer.  I don’t think that knowledge is the problem here.    Are we persecuting medieval thought-crimes now?  When was the Inquisition re-instituted?  This is the old “thought is father to the deed” argument that, logically, would condemn everyone in the military for war crimes, and every Christian for even knowing what adultery is.  Seriously, if a man wants to have sex with another man they will figure it out.  And those who do not swing that way  won’t do the dirty deed, but I’ll bet they have a pretty good idea how it’s done, too.  Did I miss the big revolution where gays were forcing straights to have homosexual relations forcibly?  The only coercion I’m aware of is straights demanding that gays have sex with partners they are not even remotely interested in.  So, who exactly is persecuting who?

      • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

        Amazingly, such a search only comes up with one site, which alludes to (but doesn’t link to any specific page) a Breitbart piece. Perhaps you’d like to enlighten us with a citation?

        • allein

          I’ve seen this claim several times and I’ve yet to see anyone include a citation with it.

        • Rwlawoffice

          Search little black book Queer in the 21st century and you will find multiple sites with it. Here is only one:

          http://Www.massresistance.org/docs/issues/black_book/black_book_inside.html.

          • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

            So, an explicitly gay/lesbian conference (not an event that all students would have to attend) at a high school had copies of a small book that basically provides safe sex information specifically aimed at gay/lesbian students (actually, looks more like gay male than lesbians), and that’s “propaganda”? What, did you expect them to invite Exodus International? Talk about an overreaction.

            • Rwlawoffice

              Haha. This is coming fom the same people who called a banner hanging in a school propaganda and call the ten commandments displayed in a school propaganda. That is hilarious.

              • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

                Those aren’t propaganda; they’re Establishment Clause violations. And if you don’t see the difference between literature at an extracurricular event that no students are forced to go to and things hung in schools where students who are forced to go there will inevitably see, then you really are hopeless.

                • Wild Rumpus

                  We still don’t know what kind of law rwlawoffice practices, but Robert certainly knows jack shit about US constitutional law.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I have forgotten more constitutional law then you thinkyou know. The problem with these discussions is that most commentators think they know the law when they are flat out wrong. I do wat I can to educate but most don’t like the results so they make comments like yours.

                • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

                  The problem with you is less an understanding of con law and more an inability or unwillingness to think critically.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I understand the legal argument. That smit the issue. Athiests screaming about relgious elements in school base the harm on the kids feeling excluded and be subjected to religious propaganda. You know that .

                  As for the example of the gay agenda to indoctrinate school children, I gave just one example. Why in the world was the mass. Department of education teaming up with that organization at all to spread this to school children?

                  If you want other examples there are plenty, but it is flat out a lie that the gay agenda is to teach homosexuality in school. For example elementary school children being read a book about two kings getting married. When a father asked for his son to be allowed to opt out he was told no and actually arrested. That happened in mass. in 2005. So your idea that this one example was assumed by you to be voluntary doesn’t change the point.

                • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

                  Atheists who talk about how religious propaganda doesn’t belong in schools do so on the basis of the Establishment Clause. This sounds like another one of those “atheist myths” you tout that virtually no atheist believes.

                  As for why the MA DoE would team up with GLSEN, the key word in the initialism is “Education.” If there is a need for safe sex education materials, then it makes sense for such a collaboration. I know you’d rather tell gay and lesbian kids that they’re wicked and sinful and should turn from their evil ways, but we’re talking about reality here. Silence on this issue hurts LGBT individuals, which the MA DoE probably cares about even if you don’t.

                  And things like “King & King” are such a tempest in a teapot. That’s not gay advocacy; it’s the recognition that gay people exist, including some of these children’s own parents.

                  I will agree with one thing you said, though:

                  it is flat out a lie that the gay agenda is to teach homosexuality in school.

                  (Although I suspect that was just a Freudian slip.)

                • Rwlawoffice

                   You guys really should listen to yourself sometimes.  A banner hanging in a school that mentions God is brainwashing, but telling kindergartners that it wonderful and perfectly okay for two men to fall in love with each other and get married or telling middle school children the joys of fisting and rimming is not gay advocacy.  Incredible.

                  As for my last statement, it was a typo.  I meant to say that it is a lie that the gay agenda doesn’t want to to teach homosexuality in the schools in an attempt to indoctrinate children.  You don’t have to believe me, you can ask Daniel Villarreal of Queerty
                  http://www.queerty.com/can-we-please-just-start-admitting-that-we-do-actually-want-to-indoctrinate-kids-20110512/

                • http://www.facebook.com/tehpeggy Peggy Richards

                  It’s a   health issue.  If a child is beginning to identify as gay, would you rather he or she go into it blind, or have some sex education?  or perhaps you would rather they contribute to the suicide statistics? Knowledge would also help straight students to understand their queer peers and perhaps cut down on viscious bullying.

                • http://profile.yahoo.com/KVCX2WOYZ2PWTFTLXUBY2TVV74 concerned

                   Hey Rw, you’re an idiot, and all you’re doing is skirting the issue, and re-asserting your original flawed thoughts. It was explained to you MANY times, yet you just gloss it over and spout the same crap. Wanting to inform students about gay safe sex is NOT a violation, any more than telling kids “don’t do drugs”. It’s gonna happen, it always has, and it always will. Preparing school kids for what may present itself to them, or the options they have, have nothing at all to do with what I can only think to you means brainwashing. Displaying a banner with the commandments, or any other religion-based phrase of sentence, IS however, an form of brainwashing. If you continue to bash the one while condoning the other only proves just what kind of idiot you are. go away.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gmillar Gavin Millar

        Homosexuality is not a religion and therefore irrelevant from this discussion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=540540124 Scott Springer

    Mmm… I love the smell of impending lawsuits in the morning.  It smells like… freedom from religion.

  • gnarlyerik

    Besides having an exceptionally scant bookshelf, Principle Rains seems to have some kind of unhealthy eagle fetish too. I don’t mean any insult to eagles, but maybe that’s simply sub-consciously indicative of his bird-brain mindset?

    • jenny

      Hey, that statement is offensive to Avian-Americans. Birds are much smarter than this guy!

    • unclemike

       In his defense (I can’t believe I just typed that) the eagle is the school’s mascot.

      Be that as it may, if I lived there, I’d request the posting of Buddha’s 4 Noble Truths and the 8-fold Path. They’re historical documents too, no?

      • 3lemenope

        Or how about a nice, framed copy of the Treaty of Tripoli?

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Zing!

  • John Purcell

    Aren’t we missing something here. What “historical document” is a copy of the 10CCs a facsimile of? When was it created, and by whom?  Where exactly do we keep the original? With all those others, we have the original document, and it has historical significance. The 10ccs are simply a portion of a passage of the Bible. If the Bible is a historical document, then why don’t we simply wallpaper the walls of the schools with the whole thing? Then, while we’re at it, how about papering another school room with the Koran? That’s a historical document using the same definition.

    We can take this logical absurdity into infinity.

    • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

      In a warehouse in Washington. Didn’t you watch that great documentary, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark?

      • Vision_From_Afar

        Top. Men.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

          But does it have an air hole?

      • http://twitter.com/CriticalDragon1 CriticalDragon1177

        TychaBrahe

        Actually if Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark is true, I don’t think I want the ten commandments anywhere near school children.   LOL!

    • http://www.facebook.com/gmillar Gavin Millar

      Mein Kampf qualifies as historical too, right? Can they have Birth of a Nation playing on screens in the halls? 

  • Georgina

    Considering that every catholic priest, and lots of other christians, disobey the 2nd. commandment as part of their religion, this is surely the stupidest thing ever.
    What if the kids actually read these commandments and start thinking, and asking questions?
    Such as: “why are you wearing a graven image around your neck and why do you bow before the graven image above  the alter?”

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/47IDX2QAR6VU6ZAILFU6I23ACQ Joseph

       Yeah, that always perplexed me as a kid, having been raised in the Catholic Church.  I couldn’t figure out the distinction between “worshiping graven images” and all of those statues of Jesus on the crucifix, or dead in Mary’s arms.  Not too mention, how fucking morbid it all is!

      And as for this whole “it’s an historical document” argument the religious zealots love to use, what a load of crap.  They don’t give a shit if it’s historical or not… that’s just their cynical end run around the blatant violation of constitutional freedom of/from religion. 

      • Georgina

         Thank you, you give me hope.

  • LesterBallard

    Christians are so honest. 

  • LesterBallard

    I want all of those 613 laws from the Torah on public school walls. Every fucking one of them.

    • westley

      Especially the ones about fucking.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gwydionfrost Daniel Parker

      See, that’s been my go-to every time someone says: “Ten Commandments”… because if you only cherry-pick those, you miss out on the ones that strip governments of their powers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kim-Darnell/1625345854 Kim Darnell

    I am all for kids learning about religion…but I remember going to church when I was little and being scared to death that I was a bad person and a constant sinner…all at the age of 8. How can kids so young NOT see these commandments as confusing?

    Just as when I was young, these kids are going to be made to feel bad about what goes on in their lives and whether or not something they did or said was bad. Sure, teach them the basics, but stop shoving this down their throats.

    “At least half of the Commandments have absolutely no business in a public school, much less an elementary school.”

    So true.

    • allein

      8 was the age when my church gave out bibles to all the kids (the 3rd grade Sunday school class got them each year)…with our names and the date calligraphied inside. I guess my religious upbringing was pretty benign as I don’t recall ever believing that I’m a horrible worthless sinner who should feel guilty over everything I do or think. The most I really remember about Sunday school specifically was making bookmarks for our bibles (I still have them in there which is probably why I remember it). When people come into these threads saying things like that (and as adults who really believe it!) it just makes me sad.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/KVCX2WOYZ2PWTFTLXUBY2TVV74 concerned

       When I lived in Germany, and my kids went to German school, they had to take a course on religion. The local churches, all of them, contributed sums to the upkeep and maintenance of public schools, so this was the trade off. The students were offered a mix of all the major religions, that they may understand the basic tenets of all, and then they were left to make up their own minds. They could choose to believe in whichever doctrine they wanted to, or not. Simple. No pushing, no, “this is the best of all the offered religions”, and no church/faith was allowed to sway in any way a students’ right believe or not to. period. Organized religion has no place in our public school system at all, unless ALL religions be represented. Rains should be removed as principle, as he has an obvious conflict of interest.

  • Marguerite

    Many of you seem to be missing the point here. Buddha and the Code of Hammurabi had absolutely nothing to do with the founding of this country. Everyone knows that the Ten Commandments, on the other hand, had a profound influence on the thinking of the Founding Fathers and the documents they scribed. That’s why the Constitution says we must worship no other God before Yahweh, and that we can’t make graven images, and that we must do no work on the Sabbath, and–
    Oh, wait, the Constitution doesn’t say any of those things? Then I guess I don’t really know WHAT the point is *scratches head*.

    • Taddare

       Apparently you have never heard of the treaty of Tripoli, signed by the founders of this country.  The relevant part is here – “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense,
      founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of
      enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen
      [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of
      hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the
      parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever
      produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two
      countries.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Read his entire post next time before you comment.

  • CanadianNihilist

    “We just want our kids to know they can believe the way we want to believe…”

    Translation: We just want our kids to believe what we want them to believe.

  • TGAP Dad

    I’ll say it again: it can’t be a “historical” document, unless thee was an ORIGINAL document (of historical significance). Since no part of the legendary commandments exists, no first-person accounts exist, no depictions exist (prior to the third century or so), this is NOT a “historical document.”

  • Dookie LaFlair

    I want TV’s in all the hallways constantly playing the original Conan The Barbarian so all children can learn of Crom and the riddle of steel. How will they get to Valhalla if they do not know the riddle of steel!?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom… so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BB2F6VMATUEHIE67ZNWSB2TJC4 D

      Don’t forget a prayer to the Great Spaghetti Monster on pasta day!

  • newavocation

    As long as the taxpayers fund the legal defense for these school officials and politicians, they will continue to break the law. I’m not a lawyer but is there a way to file civil suits against these individuals? Isn’t there a provision when an official is acting in a malice manner that they lose any protection by the agency or institution they represent?

  • kaydenpat

    In a public school, there should be no religious displays — especially if you’re only displaying one particular religion’s  artifacts. 

    Wonder why Pastor Rains can’t put himself in the shoes of non-Christian students who attend his school.  Can he imagine how alienated and outcast they must feel with all these religious displays being pushed down their throats?  Would he be comfortable in displaying the religious teachings of non-Christian groups?  He needs to be educated about the First Amendment and probably will learn something when he loses in court.

    • Camorris

      I recently had the pleasure of privately sharing breakfast with a retired Methodist minister who is the same age as me and who I had not previously met.

      We talked of many things, and one of them was the need to keep religion and government separated. He countered with the current canard that the constitution guarantees ‘freedom of religion’  but not ‘freedom from religion’. I countered with there cannot be freedom of religion without freedom from religion – they are two sides of the same coin. If freedom from religion is not allowed, then a person MUST subscribe to  a religion. And if so, what religion and whose version of it? But more importantly, who is going to enforce it – the State? I think he saw my point but did not concede.

      • Rwlawoffice

        I can understand why he did not concede. Freedom of religion means te right to practice the religion of your choosing and not one dictated by the state. That would include the right not to practice any religion. However, it does not follow that this therefore means there can be no religion in the public square as has been the position of atheists.

        • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

          It depends on what you mean by “in the public square.” If it means “used as justification for legislation or policy,” then yes; if it means “expressed by public officials,” then I can safely say that very few atheists likely agree with that.

          • Rwlawoffice

            But the atheists who think that may or may not be correct. Public officials can express their religious beliefs in the public square. They cannot use the public forum to evangailize.

        • Wild Rumpus

          “Freedom of religion means the right to practice the religion of your choosing and not one dictated by the state.”

          …and you still don’t understand how posting the 10 Commandments in a public school, paid for by the taxpayer and operated by the government discriminates against evry American of a different or no faith?

          Come on Robert, you consistently contradict yourself in these threads, you consistently get your ass kicked by people who point out your contradictions, and yet you still come back for more?

          In the name of your lord, please stop trolling here.

          • Rwlawoffice

            My ass is just fine thank you. I don’t post here thinking any of you would agree, you are all too intolerant, bigoted and closed minded to do that. But I will point out the inconsistency and hypocrisy when I see it.

            Your comment has nothing to do with my post. Atheists like tcc and cammorris like to try to say that freedom of religion only means freedom to believe and not to practice. I was pointing out that this was wrong. As for the ten commandments in a school be constitutional it is black and white. It can be allowed if it meets the constitutional test.

    • 3lemenope

      Wonder why Pastor Rains can’t put himself in the shoes of non-Christian students who attend his school.

      Privilege is a serious impediment to empathy.

  • Baby_Raptor

    “We just want our kids to know they can believe the way we want to believe and know that we were offended when they are taken down.”
    Hate to break it to ya dude, but nobody gives a rat’s ass if you were offended when your illegal religious displays were taken down. If you’re the kind of person who would get butthurt over not being allowed to indoctrinate small children, you have no business at all teaching. None. You’re not fit to. 

  • Helanna

    Wait, let me get this straight. If I complain because the 10 commandments are up, then I should just shut up and ignore it if it bothers me. But if they’re taken down and a Christian is offended by an *absence* of something that has no business there in the first place, then it’s lawsuit time.

    I . . . see.

    Also, I like to think the “children can think as we think” line was a Freudian slip. He meant to say the children can think what they want (because we all know it’s SO hard to come out as Christian in this country),  but accidentally said what he meant, which was that they are encouraging the children to think like Christians.

  • labman57

    Hmmm. I don’t see the Tennessee legislature’s favorite commandment which states:
    Thou shall not teach science in the science classroom.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IKQFNYBLLUPFHL5TOBAYLQCYMY critterlover

    Jamestown, Tn????  Really??  Lmao that place is so small if you sneeze you missed it!!!!  

  • Agnostic

    Are you sure this is an atheist site? It seems more like a anti-Christian site to me.

    • Spherical Basterd

      Sorta’ like the ‘Butt-Hurt Locker’ for x-tians. But, then again, aren’t the x-tian sites anti-atheist?

  • Dvmathuss

    I call this a “Jobs bill for lawyers”.  Tomorrow’s forecast……lawsuits.

  • http://twitter.com/CriticalDragon1 CriticalDragon1177

    Hemant Mehta,

    Another violation of the establishment clause.  Why am I not surprised?  The religious right also hasn’t given up trying get creationism taught in public schools despite having lost just about every single court case there as well in the last thirty years.


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