Oklahoma High School Has Ten Commandments Displays in Every Classroom… and One Atheist Student is Fighting Back

***Update***: I spoke with the atheist student and you can read more about him here.

The classrooms in Muldrow High School in Oklahoma (right near the border by Arkansas) all have plaques of the Ten Commandments hanging on the walls. For some reason that probably have everything to do with Tradition and our Christian Heritage and “We Live In Merkuh.”

Recently, a junior at the school contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation and they contacted the school without exposing the student.

Somehow this has turned into a fight between Christians and the Constitution:

Students in support of the Commandments speak to a reporter

That reporter does an awful job of explaining what the controversy is all about and why some people wouldn’t want the Commandments in the classroom, as if there are no possible reasons for it except they’re anti-Christian.

But that’s not the case at all. There’s just no reason students should be told at a public school that they should believe in the Christian God, not obey “false gods,” or keep the Sabbath holy.

This is such an obvious violation of church/state separation that the FFRF is doing the school district a favor by giving them warning before filing a lawsuit. The administration has time to take the plaques down without consequence. They can blame the atheists all they want, but ultimately, they’re going to have to do the right thing if they want to avoid a federal lawsuit.

The brave student who informed the FFRF of the plaques told Reddit what was happening:

There are many teachers refusing to take them out of their classrooms, students have put “fight for faith” and other things on there cars, and there is free T-shirts and a petition being passed around. Today people started to figure out it was me, all I have received were dirty looks and an argument with a rather large linebacker. I am not upset at that because i expected that, what I am upset about is the fact that my little sister has been yelled at by a school bus full of brainwashed children. I just wanted to share a story from the view of an atheist in the middle of a religious war in small town Oklahoma.

I’ve contacted the student to get some more information about the case.

The headlines on the Internet, though, are overwhelmingly in favor of the Christians (“Students Fight Back to Save Ten Commandments”)… which makes it sound like Christians are this tiny minority trying to defend themselves against the oppressive atheist majority. In reality, we’re talking about one brave atheist trying to prevent the school from getting sued because of the ignorance of the Christian majority.

Even state legislators are admitting the Christians are fighting a losing battle here:

“A majority of teachers and students didn’t agree with the Freedom From Religion Foundation letter, so they contacted myself and Senator Mark Allen. After talking with numerous Christian organizations and constitutional lawyers, it became clear that the superintendent and local school board has no choice but to remove the plaques if they want to avoid a lawsuit,” State Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, said.

Students, with the help of local churches, are planning to wear shirts with the Ten Commandments on them this Wednesday. They seem to think that if everyone is wearing the shirts, the school won’t take down the plaques. (Did no one at the school teach them that the First Amendment doesn’t just protect the majority?)

But the law should prevail here. This isn’t a coin toss. This is the textbook definition of what you’re not allowed to do in a public school.

I hope we find out the identity of this student so we can honor him/her — because if it’s true that other kids know who it is, the student’s in for a rough week ahead.

(Thanks to Gordon 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.