, Muskogee, OK

May 15, 2013

Muldrow board approves removal of 10 Commandments

Crowd opposing move gathers at board meeting

Associated Press

— MULDROW (AP) — Plaques displaying the Ten Commandments have been removed from classrooms in the Muldrow School District after its board opted to “honor thy constitution” rather than risk a federal lawsuit.

Board President Scott Chambers said the district had to remove the plaques after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of an unidentified student. Hundreds of school patrons packed Monday night’s board meeting to protest, traveling to the high school cafeteria in vehicles adorned with Christian slogans.

“I think it’s wrong, and we should keep it in our school. It’s what we believe,” said Taylor Middleton, an eighth-grade student who attended the meeting with her mother. The plaques, which had been donated to the eastern Oklahoma district, were put up in the early 1990s.

The Southwest Times Record of Fort Smith, Ark., reported Tuesday that school board attorney Jerry Richardson told the crowd that the board supported displaying the Ten Commandments but that fighting a lawsuit would be a waste of taxpayer money.

Muldrow First Assembly of God Senior Pastor Shawn Money said the local Ministry Alliance was hopeful the plaques could someday return. The Ten Commandments, Money said, are “the thread of the fabric that has held many nations together.”

When he finished speaking, the crowd shouted loud “amens” and gave Money a lengthy standing ovation.

Richardson said a Muldrow student had complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation that the commandments were posted in every classroom. The organization posted a statement on its website, attributed to its co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor, that “We hope the board will honor thy constitution and heed the advice of its attorney rather than to acquiesce to pressure from a religious mob.”

The board lawyer said students could wear items expressing their beliefs if they did not otherwise violate school policies, but that they would not be able to post anything on school property, including their lockers.