Ten Commandments written on school chalkboard
Coming soon to a classroom near you?

The Cleveland County school board in North Carolina is considering installing the Ten Commandments in 30 schools across the district.

The policy, first proposed by school board member Ron Humphries, is currently in the draft stage, but should it move forward, it would likely cause the school district and the county legal headaches – they’ve already received a warning from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Place religious symbols in public schools has been deemed unconstitutional on numerous occasions in the past, which begs the question: what makes Cleveland County think this time is different?

A Legal Loophole

We’re all familiar with the concept of separation of church and state. The state or government cannot endorse one religion over another.

Putting the Ten Commandments, straight out of the Old Testament, on public property would seemingly be a pretty big endorsement of Christianity. But the school board is arguing it’s legal under a North Carolina statute that allows religious documents to be placed in public schools so long as they have “historical significance”.

The school board appears to be arguing that while the Ten Commandments do represent a religious symbol, they want to put them on display for students as a historical artifact in every elementary, middle, and high school across the county.

The statute in question lumps the Ten Commandments in with nonreligious documents significant to US history like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the national anthem.

Not So Fast

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has already kindly warned the school district that they’re about to make a costly mistake, imploring them to ditch the Ten Commandments mandate lest they be sued.

“The district can be sued for violating the Establishment Clause even if it is following North Carolina law,” said a FFRF staff attorney. “It would be a flagrant violation for the school board to require all of its schools to display the Ten Commandments.”

The letter sent to the school district cited two Supreme Court cases in which the nation’s highest court clearly ruled against Ten Commandments displays in classrooms before, as well as FFRF’s own success suing other school districts that attempted this very maneuver.

But the school board member who initially proposed this believes the school district is immune from lawsuits, saying that “we cannot be sued for following the law of the state of North Carolina."

However, another member fears the ramifications – both legal and monetary. Board member Dena Green noted that "I would think that the ACLU would really come down on us. We are probably going to get a lot of backlash on that, and it's going to cost us a lot of money."

What do you think? Could installing the Ten Commandments outside of every public school in the district truly be for historical purposes? Or is this a case of using a legal loophole to inject Christianity into public schools?

47 comments

  1. Stewart's Avatar Stewart

    Backwoods redneck Christians do not attend church because they believe in god. Its simply that they have been trained and groomed from birth to spout the rhetoric .

    Their grandparents had little or no entertainment than going to church listening to a baboon jump up an down screaming an shouting then they weekly social where they all sat down to a potluck dinner afterwards and socialized . Thus believe its the right way to do things ,dress up show off so all the neighbors could see what a wonderful family you were .

    Then break out the booze an get falling down drunk and beat the wife and kids . Church in the south east has always been more about appearance rather than substance .

    Oh you go to THAT church ....

  1. Donald J Rothschild Jr's Avatar Donald J Rothschild Jr

    George Carlin explains it the best.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CE8ooMBIyC8

    1. Donald J. Robinson's Avatar Donald J. Robinson

      Never saw that one before - outstanding. Thanks for the post.

  1. CB Cuff's Avatar CB Cuff

    I was going to (tongue in cheek) suggest they have the county vote, but then they'd want a recount, accuse the voters of stealing the vote, and take it to the Supreme Court. Rudy? Rudy? Rudy where are you?

  1. Pamela Kay Waters's Avatar Pamela Kay Waters

    Religion is for the churches not the schools since not all kids have the same Religion

  1. Martha Knight's Avatar Martha Knight

    The comical thing about people proclaiming that their powerful belief in Jesus Christ impels them to put The Ten Commandments on display in schools, court houses, public places--- IF they read the New Testament, and what Jesus us quoted as saying, he claimed to be the Messiah, the Promised bringer of the NEW Covenant-- a covenant better than the Mosaic Covenant, the Covenant of Law. The NEW Covenant would be based on grace, not on Law. Jesus declared that he had FULFILLED the Law-- satisfied the requirements of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant had TWO Commandments: Love God with your very self, and love your fellow-humans with unconditional love (agape love, basically wanting for them what God wants for them whatever that might be, and willing to assist with that). Christians are not supposed to be living by Old Covenant rules! However, if we think about it. the TWO commandments subsume all the requirements of the Decalogue, and then some.

    1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      Matthew 5:17-20 says otherwise. Bible interpretation is fun, because with all the editing & mistranslations & censoring & contradictions & factually inaccurate assertions, one can pretty much find justification for any position. Just play nice with others and the woo is irrelevant.

      1. Martha Knight's Avatar Martha Knight

        Yes, Jesus is quoted as saying he did not come to abolish the Law and Prophets, but to FULFILL (the Old Covenant scriptures). What part of FULFILL do people not understand? If he had meant to say the Old Covenant, based on obeying Mosaic Commandments. would continue despite his being the Messiah, or despite his ministry and teachings, he could have said he had come to uphold or affirm the Law. He claimed he would FULFILL the Law. As the sinless Lamb of God, the only acceptable sacrifice, he did exactly that, purchasing the forgiveness of sin for humankind. And, as the promised Messiah, enacted the New Covenant, which had been prophesied by Old Covenant prophets. Part of the message Jesus was at such pains to explain to his closest followers at the Last Supper (as he tried to prepare them for his impending arrest and death by torture) was that henceforth, as they (observant Jews, used to covenant observance meals and still in the Old Covenant) had a meal like that, they would not be ANTICIPATING the Messiah, but REMEMBERING him. They would not talk about the Messiah bread, wrap it up and stow it away again; they would not talk about the Messiah cup, but set it back in its place. That was done to indicate being in the state of waiting for the promised Messiah and bringer of the New Covenant. But THIS time it was actually shared around and eaten/drunk, because the wait was over.

        1. Donald J. Robinson's Avatar Donald J. Robinson

          Martha, thanks not completely true. Jesus changed "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" to turn your cheek. The OLD Testament laws were indeed changed. The old testament has many laws that Orthodox Jews especially follow, and even some that Reformed Jews follow. However, Christians don't even know anything about these OLD Testament laws. Remember, Jesus was JEWISH, the Old Testament was written by the Jewish people and actually so was the New Testament if you think about it. Much changed from Old Testament Law to New Testament, and is frankly still evolving.

          1. Martha Knight's Avatar Martha Knight

            Do you understand the cultural context of the "other cheek"? Or "the second mile"? Most people don't. It's worth checking out. Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah, who was expected to bring a NEW COVENANT which would replace the Mosaic Covenant (Old Covenant, Covenant of Law). His death provided the blood sacrifice required for covenant enactment. Blood Covenant was the basis of law in much of that part of the world then, and has been much more recently. The New Covenant with TWO commandments replaced the Old Covenant, with its TEN. Google for Blood Covenant, or read an account of Stanley's search for Livingston, for insights about Blood Covenant. Or read about the covenants before the Mosaic Covenant-- the Adamic, or the Noah, or the Abrahamic Covenant.

  1. Ronnie Lee Clayton's Avatar Ronnie Lee Clayton

    They can make it perfectly legal to display the Ten Commandments, in my opinion. Let other religions post their own "historical" documents. I believe that would satisfy the law. Either none or any and all.

    But beware. Catholics could provide statues of the saints. Wiccans could provide a pentagram.

    And Satanists will have a statue of Baphomet handy. And when that is rejected, THEY will sue.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    In my opinion, the Cleveland County School Board will face lawsuits from the Freedom of Religion Foundation, as well as the ACLU an others. I think that the proponents are hoping that the far-right Supreme Court will review the case and then, overrule their precedents. This will set off a bunch of cities and states following in their footsteps, as with abortion. I would hope that the residents of the school district revolt against this expensive undertaking in economically distressed Times.

    1. James C Riggle's Avatar James C Riggle

      Bing-go! I think that is exatly what they are hoping for.

  1. Catherine Colvin's Avatar Catherine Colvin

    The Founding Fathers of America deliberately did not establish the founding of this country based on any God or god (whose?). The Iroquois Goddess or Sky Mother, sits atop the Capitol in D.C. for a reason. If that doesn't make the point, what does?

    I don't have a problem with the principles of the Ten Commandments because those are universal, even among other non-christian cultures. What I consider problematic is that any state and / or federally funded public educational organization would attempt to claim the Ten Commandments as belonging to Christianity. I think well intended Christians would readily present Ten Commandments unlabeled as such, instead listed as universal principles without reference to Christianity; perhaps as part of cross cultural studies.

    I wish someone could stop all the petty tomfoolery. Unfortunately, I think it will take many individuals pulling together in the same direction. The sooner we stop pushing personal agenda on other individuals, the sooner there will be less conflict all around.

    1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      "I don't have a problem with the principles of the Ten Commandments because those are universal, even among other non-christian cultures." Well, don't murder, don't steal, and don't lie are fairly universal. The rest is woo and nonsense, relevant only to fans of that particular mythos.

  1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

    IF YOU LIKE THE 10 COMMANDMENTS HANG THEM in YOUR HOUSE, if YOU NEED a REMINDER 24/7 of SAME, THEN YOUR a LIAR and a BIGOT LIKE MAYBE, K K K NAZI WHITE SUPERMAN, MORE THAN LIKELY ALL MENTIONED !

  1. shiningwolf9's Avatar shiningwolf9

    christianism, as it is proffered today, is a dying philosophy, which drives its' cult like followers to keep using their old, outdated psychological, and, once again, threats of torture, and death (maga, white supremacy, naziism, etc.) to regain hold over civilizations. Their time is coming to an end, so stepping up their tactics one more time. They have always been a hateful, torturous, brutal religious society, as have Islam, and the Jewish faith. History bares this out, to the present. Yet, they are afraid of those who choose a truly peaceful, loving way of worship, and living; even though Messiah taught the same. The question they should be asking is, "When Messiah said "make" disciples, was he telling us to force people to believe and worship him, using all the torture, and death we have used these many centuries ? If not, what have we become ?!!"

    1. John Norris Campbell's Avatar John Norris Campbell

      Sounds like you are describing the Roman Catholic Church who's M.O. has always been to inflitrate pagan religions, and give new "catholic" names to their pagan gods, while incorporating their various feast days and other celebrations and then calling it "christian". The RCC is an apostate religion, only using christian ideas when it suits their needs. BTW...I was born and raised Roman Catholic and have been led by the Holy Spirit into the Truth.

  1. BENOVOLENT LIBERATIONS's Avatar BENOVOLENT LIBERATIONS

    Given the fact that there is separation of church and state and that there are many different religions and all aren't that particular one with those commandments, the conflicts of interest and incompatibilities of various religions and adherences to such and the ongoing movements by most to forcefully and coercively convert and make others into agreements and converting abusiveness and adhere to a particular one and their interpretations and variations of them all that so many endure and face so often, ABSOLUTELY NO!

  1. chante's Avatar chante

    They would need to have the original stone tablets that Moses placed in the Ark of the Covenant to prove the claim of historical document.

  1. Carla J Smith's Avatar Carla J Smith

    Born and raised and still calling North Carolina home. Dear Gods both old and new, you cannot shake the fact that we are living in the Bible Belt (aka the Goddess Girdle). Was raised Southern Baptist. Studied different arms of Christianity. I am an eclectic Pagan Witch ordained by the ULC and my Coven. Salisbury in Rowan County tried the only Jesus prayers at each public meeting. Great Falls SC tried the same thing. I personally know the lady who sued and won that case. Town spent their entire YEARLY BUDGET x 5 YEARS to pay for their beliefs. They lost. Had to reimburse the lady’s legal fees. Dallas Gaston County tried the manger scene on public property but took it down due to media reports. So if Cleveland County thinks the 10 Commandments are HISTORY then perhaps the Temple of Satan will use their statue of Baphomet as he being cast from Heaven started the Jewish religious history.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    Let list the 600 plus commandments that God gave the Jewish people and see how many of those who truly believe in God can live up to them. I have trouble with just the 10.

  1. Robert J Giammarco's Avatar Robert J Giammarco

    IMHO the FFRF and ACLU should also look at the Supreme Court, for the Religious connotation. Bring GOD back to AMERICA. We are all entitled to our own interpretation of GOD.

    1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      You should probably check the Constitution (and relevant case law)....FFRF & ACLU certainly do. As for bringing gods back to America, on my drive today I happened to pass by quite a few places of worship (aka mythology fan clubhouses), so it doesn't appear that we need to bring any gods back. Besides, your statement pretty much tells us that you believe the god you're referring to is tiny and weak, incapable of coming back on their own. So much for omnipotence! As to being entitled to your own interpretation of gods, the only God I know of who supports such an assertion is Tak, and he doesn't even require you to think of him, only that you think. So interpret all you want, but do remember that in the USA you're not allowed to force your gods down others' throats.

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        you should check the cases I posted below as both of them show you are ignorant on the subject as in BOTH cases the 10 commandments were ruled CONSTITUTIONAL

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    The US Supreme Court has already said this is legal in the Newdow decisions where the Athiest Newdow tried to get his daughter to stop saying the pledge (he lost because he didnt have any parental authority as his wife had sole custody so he had no legal standing) Then he tried to get the phrase "in God we trust" take off the money and the Supreme Court blasted him yet again and he lost. Then to add insult to injury, he sued the Supreme Court itself for having the 10 commandments in the deliberation room where they hear arguments. And the SCOTUS slapped him down so hard that he vanished and has never been heard from again. They ruled as long as it shows historical significance it can be allowed to stay or to be put up for viewing. Just like they can have a religious display in a country courthouse and or federal office building. so nothing that is said in the story is fact based as this has already been decided.

    And as for the myth of separation of church and state, all the 1st amendment says is that the Government cannot endorse one religion over another nor make a law that violates a religions teachings. Nothing more. The Constitution was ratified in 1787 people, meaning it became law of the land. After that the ONLY way to adjust or change the Constitution is by a constitutional amendment, not by a letter from Jefferson to his Danbury Baptist Detractors in 1802. According to the US Library of Congress there has been no attempt to make a constitutional amendment saying there is a separation of church and state. And at no time in article 3 (powers of the judiciary) does it give them the right to "interpret" anything they can only go by what is written. If they had this mythical ability to interpret then each new court make up could then re-interpret the law to mean what THEY want it to mean and can you imagine the chaos from that? Even Thurgood Marshall said they overstepped their authority in the pledge case and roe v wade as they had no constitutional authority to make those decisions.

    And remember the 10th Amendment clearly states that unless the Constitution SPECIFICALLY grants a branch of government a power or authority, then they dont have it and never did. And at no time in article 3 does it say any court can "interpret" anything.

    1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      You tried....that's the important thing. Don't let your failure to understand our Constitution discourage you, just try harder.

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        Check the cases from the SCOTUS that I posted Joey, and it willshow your complete and total ignorance on this subject as the SCOTUS ruled the 10 commandments WERE CONSTITUTIONAL

        1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

          If you see a Joey, be sure to not pet it....them buggers'll kick ya back to her nest.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    Oh and let the FFRF try and sue, and they will lose just like they have in the last 35 cases they have tried.

    1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      Try thinking instead of merely believing....if you hope to be taken seriously. ffrfDOTorg/legal/challenges/highlighted-court-successes

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        Sorry Joey but all three of your posts are full of bovine droppings. The Supreme Court has already destroyed this argument and your friends at the FFRF have been thrown out of court in other cities for trying the same thing.

        So you may want to look at Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 (2005) and McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky BOTH US Supreme Court decisions. SCOTUS ruled on June 27, 2005 (in BOTH cases), by a vote of 5 to 4, that the displays were constitutional.

        So let Mikey and the FFrF try, they will get bounced by the courts faster then the ink dried on their bogus claim

        1. Tom's Avatar Tom

          McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky did establish that Ten Commandments displays in public schools and in courthouses violate the First Amendment's establishment clause, which prohibits government from passing laws "respecting an establishment of religion"

          https://www.oyez.org/cases/2004/03-1693

    2. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      Try thinking instead of believing, you'll be more successful.

      https://ffrf.org/legal/challenges/highlighted-court-successes

    3. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      https://ffrf.org/legal/challenges/highlighted-court-successes

  1. tuppennyblue's Avatar tuppennyblue

    Which of the commandments do the objectors actually disagree with?

    1. Ilmenheru Terikson's Avatar Ilmenheru Terikson

      Well Every so called Christian should disagree with everyone of them, as they all are part of the old way that Jesus specifically commanded to be left behind in the dust alongside his footprints.

      Coveting? Sorry but ultimatelya consensual affair between two adults is always perfectly fine, it needs no justification, and if a grown arse adult cant cope emotionally or let go of unjustified feelings of possession over another being, then they need to seek therapy.

      Stealing? Hell in this world today its ownership that is far greater the crime, as the super wealthy horde more and more, and use it to exert ever greater control and snowball into ever greater wealth as every day roughly 24 million people on this globe go without proper food or water and slowly die of malnutrition. Not because they are lazy, or dont want to work, but because all that there is to use to survive is taken by those in power and only doled out in the most grudgingly granted portions. So at this point theft is basically a survival trait.

      Killing? Yeah right no christian seems to really have an issue with taking life, especially of the hated gays and non whites.

      So yeah all 10 of those BS rules can get left in the dust, just like the J Man said to.

    2. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      There are only three of relevance to thinking people: don't murder, don't steal, don't lie. The rest is woo.

  1. John Norris Campbell's Avatar John Norris Campbell

    The very IDEA!! Why in the world would we want to raise our young NOT to steal, kill, and murder? Where would we get our politicians? With the #1 cause of death in our inner cities of our young teens is by other young teens intent on coveting Air Jordans and willing to kill to get them...why would we want to teach them that is wrong??

    1. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      One doesn't need the rantings of Bronze Age nutters who didn't know where the sun went at night (or even what the sun is) to learn to to murder, steal, and lie. Indeed, one must be dull-witted to need the magical woo to understand such simple concepts.

    2. Joe Stutler's Avatar Joe Stutler

      "With the #1 cause of death in our inner cities of our young teens is by other young teens intent on coveting Air Jordans and willing to kill to get them..." Citations Needed.

    3. James C Riggle's Avatar James C Riggle

      If the parents haven't taught their children not to murder, steal, and then lie about it, then why would posting it in school hallways help?

      1. Donald Walter Schmidt's Avatar Donald Walter Schmidt

        As with many aspects of raising children, some parents just want the teachers to do it all.

  1. Donna Wisdom Ogle's Avatar Donna Wisdom Ogle

    The Bible is a historic document and can be read as such. The 10 Commandments are common sense statements that explain how an orderly society should behave. Even the first one is common sense. If a person is an atheist, should [he] not love [himself] above all others? If a person worships whomever or whatever, should that not take precedent?

    What’s wrong with teaching that it’s wrong to steal or murder? What’s wrong with saying it doesn’t pay to harbor jealousy? What’s wrong with saying you should be faithful to your chosen life-partner?

    This much negative attention drawn to simple common sense statements makes me question the “questioners” intentions.

    Look at these statements as they are not as what other’s interpret them to mean.

  1. Donald Walter Schmidt's Avatar Donald Walter Schmidt

    "Believing" that the Ten Commandments comprise an historical document doesn't make that factual. I would think anyone would have to prove that the Ten Commandments "document" actually existed in its original form before they could claim the document to be historical. Classifying them as historical for the purposes of displaying them under law is akin to justifying displaying Santa's Naughty or Nice list as an historical document because children believe it existed.

  1. Norbert Roy Laengrich's Avatar Norbert Roy Laengrich

    First of all, the Ten Commandments are part of the Jewish religion, only part of the Christian religion as part of the Old Testament that gives the law that Jesus came to fulfill. However, I think the schools should teach morality as defined by the laws of the land.
    Do not murder Do not Steal, Do not lie Respect others property rights Do not commit child abuse etc, etc. Teach the moral principles that lead to a successful society that is able to govern itself. You don't have to call them the Ten Commandments Call them the Principles for a Moral Society.

  1. Rev. Howard Slayton's Avatar Rev. Howard Slayton

    I feel that justice courts should display the 10 Commandments because that’s significant. I don’t think it’s wrong for schools to do it because schools also teach good moral behavior. Bible reading and prayer shouldn’t be forced on school children. But by the same token, a Bible should be accessible to students and students should not be prohibited to pray.

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