MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

May 12, 2013

Ten Commandments plaques in Muldrow schools under fire

— MULDROW (AP) — The Muldrow school board is scheduled to discuss a complaint about Ten Commandments plaques that hang in each classroom in its schools.

The board is to meet Monday to discuss the complaint by an unidentified student that calls for the plaques to be removed on the grounds that they are an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

Shawn Money, the senior pastor of Muldrow First Assembly of God and a member of the Muldrow Ministerial Alliance, told the Times Record of Fort Smith, Ark., that he expects hundreds at the meeting, which will take place at the school, about 10 miles west of Fort Smith.

“We believe the Ten Commandments have a place in our society and are appropriate in our classrooms. ... We felt we needed as Christians to let our voices be heard. ... We feel we have been losing things important to us,” Money said, adding that he realizes the school can’t afford a legal battle and he will support whatever decision the board makes.

Superintendent Ron Flanagan did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Money said school administrators have told him that their legal sources say the Ten Commandments cannot be in the public classrooms and must come down.

In April, commissioners in neighboring LeFlore County decided not to erect a Ten Commandments monument on its courthouse lawn, as commissioners believed that spending money on a lawsuit they “probably couldn’t win” wasn’t a good use of taxpayer dollars.

Haskell County had placed a similar monument at Stigler but in 2009 lost a lawsuit after a resident claimed the monument was improper as a government-endorsed religious expression. That monument was moved to private property about a block away.

And in 2011, a teacher in the nearby Van Buren School District in western Arkansas was forced to remove Bible verses posted in her classroom after parents complained.

A similar monument stands on the state Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City, with its supporters saying it is a historical document, not a religious symbol. It has not been challenged in court.

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