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VA High School Agrees to Remove 10 Commandments in Settlement With ACLU


It seems the saga, at least for the time being, over a framed version of the Ten Commandments at Narrows High School in Narrows, Virginia, has come to a close. In May, The Blaze first reported about the intriguing case, during which federal Judge Michael Urbanski suggested that four commandments be removed to ensure there are no conflicts between church and state. Now, it seems the school has abandoned its fight to keep the image on display.

(Related: Judge Suggests Stripping 10 Commandments Down to 6 to Remove ‘Religious’ Elements in ACLU-Led Lawsuit)

The Los Angeles Times has more about the compromise that has been struck between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Giles County School Board:

A framed copy of the Ten Commandments that had been on display at a Virginia public high school will be replaced by a page from a history textbook depicting the commandment tablets and highlighting their role in the "roots of democracy."

The swap is being made under a proposed settlement of a lawsuit that contended displaying the text of the commandments violated the Constitutional requirement for separation of church and state. [...]

The textbook page, titled "Roots of Democracy," depicts the tablets, followed by the statement: “The values found in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus, inspired American ideas about government and morality.” The page mentions other influences on America, such as the Magna Carta and ancient Greek democracy.

Both sides seem content with the final decision. Rebecca Glenberg, the legal director of the ACLU of Virginia, reports that her clients are happy and that the removal of the document will "make the Giles County public schools a much more welcome place."

Mathew D. Staver, founder of the Liberty Counsel and a legal representative of the school board, echoed these sentiments. He said that the continued inclusion of the Biblical tenets "shows the development of law and government and continues to retain the Ten Commandments as part of that history."

The background of this particular situation is interesting. The ACLU filed the initial lawsuit on behalf of a student (who, along with his or her family will remain anonymous, as per a judge’s order) who wanted to see the display removed. The basis of the complaint was familiar: The presence, those opposed to it contend, illustrates a government endorsement of religion and is, thus, unconstitutional.

The debate over the presence of the Ten Commandments began back in 2010 when the Freedom From Religion Foundation first received complaints about it. Inevitably, the ACLU got involved. After the initial grievances surrounding the Ten Commandments, the list of moral elements to follow was apparently removed and re-posted a number of times. In the end, it was made part of a larger display of historical documents that have shaped American history, the ACLU claims.

Now, the textbook page will continue take the former document's place -- a development that has already unfolded. Urbanski approved the settlement on Tuesday and, thus, dismissed the lawsuit.

(H/T: Huffington Post)

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