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Poster Problems: In Giles County, Va., The Unconstitutional Writing Is On The Wall

Back in 1999, we at Americans United got word about a Pennsylvania school district that, after being prodded by a local fundamentalist minister, decided to post the Ten Commandments in a high school.

Members of the school board knew this was unconstitutional, so they tried an end-run: They designated a certain wall a “free-speech zone” and said community groups could post “character-building” material there. Naturally, the first item posted was a Ten Commandments display donated by a local church. Read more

Doe v. Government-Sponsored Religion: Why Plaintiffs Sometimes Need To Be Anonymous

Let’s say you lived in Giles County, Va., a rural enclave of about 17,000 people in the southwestern portion of the state. Let’s say you were a high school student and you were opposed to the school board’s decision to post the Ten Commandments in your school.

Would you be eager to be public about it?

Some people might be willing to stick their necks out and take a public stand. Others might want to remain a little reticent but still look for ways to right this wrong – and they might seek to do so anonymously. Read more

Advice To Giles County: Thou Shalt Not Gamble With Scarce Public School Funds

Across the country, cash-strapped public schools are scrambling to keep it together. In many districts, teacher salaries are stagnant, and class sizes are growing.

This would not seem to be a good time for any public school to risk losing scarce funds by going on a Ten Commandments crusade.

Yet that’s exactly what’s going on in Giles County, Va. The school board there voted 3-2 earlier this week to bring a display of the Commandments and nine other “historic documents” to the district’s schools. Read more

Commandments Clash: Va. County Has One Last Chance To Avoid A Lawsuit – And Should Take It

Public education officials in Giles County, Va., can’t say they weren’t warned.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote to school officials recently telling them to remove Ten Commandments displays from the schools. The officials were also advised by their own attorney to take down the religious posters.

At first, they did. But when members of the community complained, the school board voted to put the Ten Commandments back into the schools. Read more