Magazine article Church & State

Oklahoma Student Foils School Posting of Ten Commandments in Class

Magazine article Church & State

Oklahoma Student Foils School Posting of Ten Commandments in Class

Article excerpt

Officials at a public high school in Muldrow, Okla., decided to remove Ten Commandments plaques from classrooms after realizing they would almost certainly lose if the matter went to court.

Gage Pulliam, a student at the school, protested the Decalogue displays and asked the Freedom From Religion Foundation to investigate. Attorneys with the group, based in Madison, Wisc., wrote to school officials and pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 ruled that public schools may not post the Commandments.

"When it's clearly decided, there's no point in continuing to fight a losing battle," Jerry Richardson, an attorney for the school district, told a local television station.

Pulliam said he decided to speak out because he knew that the display of religious material in a public school was unconstitutional. He originally considered remaining anonymous but later decided to reveal his identity. He said both he and his sister have been harassed.

"I want people to know this isn't me trying to attack religion," Pulliam said. "This is me trying to create an environment for kids where they can feel equal."

Pulliam's protest generated a lot of controversy in the community. Christian groups supporting the Commandments displays began circulating petitions and giving students free t-shirts depicting the Decalogue.

The Fort Smith, Ark., Times Record reported that supporters jammed a May 13 school board meeting.

"We understand the last two weeks have been very difficult for you," said First Assembly of God Senior Pastor Shawn Money. "We support you. We're praying for you. …

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