The little town of Muldrow, Okla., is in turmoil after a national nonprofit organization reportedly threatened a lawsuit if postings of the Ten Commandments aren't removed from the walls of a public high school.
A letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FRFF) was sent to school officials after an anonymous student contacted the organization about the postings of the Ten Commandments at his high school, according to multiple reports.
Update (May 15, 2013): The school has pulled all the plaques off the walls in order to avoid a legal drama, according to News on 6. "When it's clearly decided, there's no point in continuing to fight a losing battle," Muldrow Schools Attorney Jerry Richardson told the local channel.
In the letter, the nonprofit group, which advocates for the separation of church and state, asked the school to pull the postings down. The foundation indicated that a lawsuit would result if the school refused, the Sequoyah County Times reported Friday.
Ever since the letter arrived, the community has been up in arms.
Multiple petitions have been signed by hundreds of people, pray-ins have been held at the school, pro-Christian messages lit up Twitter with the hashtag #FightForFaith, and church officials and politicians have railed against the request to remove the religious postings.
"A nation that refuses to allow educators to teach children right from wrong will become a corrupt nation, where sin prevails, evil abounds, and everyone does as they please," said Republican state Rep. John Bennett, according to the Sequoyah County Times.
"It's Christianity under attack," Muldrow First Baptist Church Pastor John Moore inveighed. "It was promised in the scripture [that this would happen].
The school, for its part, reportedly said students who wore the shirts would be forced to turn them inside out, the Sequoyah County Times reported.
Meanwhile, the anonymous student who first contacted the FRFF took to Reddit to lament that his classmates have "started to figure out" it was he who sent the letter.
"All I have received [since then] were dirty looks and an argument with a rather large linebacker," he wrote. "I am not upset at that because I expected that, what I am upset about is the fact that my little sister has been yelled at by a school bus full of brainwashed children."
Yet in spite of the backlash, it appears the Ten Commandments will probably have to come down.
Muldrow school administrators who consulted legal experts said that a 1980 court ruling meant the plaques would likely have to be removed, according to the Southwest Times Record.
In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Kentucky statute that had mandated every public school classroom have the Ten Commandments posted on its walls. The ruling has been interpreted to mean public schools cannot have the Ten Commandments on display year-round.
The First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," a statement that has been interpreted through the years to prohibit governmental preference of one religion over another.
The Muldrow School Board is scheduled to meet Monday evening to discuss the matter of whether or not to remove the Ten Commandments from school walls, according to the Southwest Times Record.
CORRECTION: A previous headline of this article stated that the lawsuit had already been filed; it has only been threatened.
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