After receiving word from a concerned parent, national atheist activist group the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent an April letter of complaint to an Ohio school district taking issue with a Ten Commandments plaque display, the Times-Reporter said.
The FFRF took issue with the plaque near an auditorium entrance in Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia, saying the Constitution doesn't allow public schools to advance or endorse religion, the paper said.
So earlier this month, attorney Brian J. DeSantis — who's representing the district — wrote to the FFRF saying the Ten Commandments plaque had been removed and is "no longer on display on district property," the Times-Reporter said.
Christopher Line of the FFRF told the paper that "as far as we're concerned, this situation is completely resolved. We're happy that the district did the right thing by taking down this religious promotion."
Oh, but it was far smooth sailing
But don't think the resolution to this issue was easily realized.
In fact, New Philadelphia Schools Superintendent David Brand told the Times-Reporter that the district disagreed with FFRF's approach.
"Rather than meeting with the District to begin a dialogue, FFRF sent a letter from its office in Wisconsin and then used the local media to further the issue," Brand noted to the paper.
The superintendent noted to the Times-Reporter that the district "gathered more information, listened to interested community members, and reviewed its options" about the plaque, which was a gift from the Class of 1926 and appears to have been on display in the district "ever since" 1927.
"With over 90 years on display, the plaque is recognized as part of the tradition and history of New Philadelphia City Schools," Brand added in his statement to the paper.
But the superintendent said it would have been too costly to fight to keep the plaque displayed.
"Despite offers from local law professionals to help the district, the 'costs' of defending are substantial," Brand told the Times-Reporter, adding that "challenging the issue legally would be an enormous risk and burden to the local taxpayers."
He added that the district will look into donating the plaque.
What else has the Freedom From Religion Foundation been up to?
- The FFRF demanded that a Texas high school remove a Christian flag flying on campus in 2017 — which resulted in some students flying the same flag from their vehicles in the school parking lot.
- It demanded that an Alabama high school marching band cease it's "religious" halftime performances at football games in 2017. The school said it would consider removing some props but that the show would remain the same.
- The FFRF demanded that a different Alabama high school stop loudspeaker prayers at football games in 2017. But after the school complied, students ended up praying out loud in the stands.
- In March 2018, the FFRF said it got rid of prayer by an Oklahoma City pastor for a local high school football team.
- Last fall the group convinced a state college in Utah to remove Bibles and copies of the Book of Mormon from rooms of a hotel it owns.
- In January, the atheist group forced New Mexico Junior College to remove Christian crosses it displayed on campus.
- In April it said it got quick results after complaining that the phrase "God bless America" was stated over a loudspeaker after the daily Pledge of Allegiance at a Pennsylvania elementary school.
- In June, it got word of a student baptism service on Alabama public school property and demanded the school district investigate and not let it happen again.