Cut the Ten Commandments Down to Six?

The federal judge presiding over a lawsuit filed against the Giles County, Virginia School Board over its posting of the Ten Commandments in public school has sent the case to mediation. He wonders if “there isn’t a reasonable compromise” to be had between the parties.

The plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of Virginia; the school board by Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel

That compromise, Judge Michael Urbanski proposes, might just be leaving the first four commandments out.

The plaintiffs, a student and parent at Narrows High School, sued to remove the Ten Commandments because it “makes me [the student] feel like an outsider because the school is promoting religious beliefs that I do not share.” Judge Urbanski had to grant the plaintiffs a protective order “to shield them from harassment by people in the community who have pressed for the Ten Commandments display and showed anger toward those who disagreed with them,” according to the Associated Press. 

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported that “[o]ne online message said the parent and student ‘should (be) ship(ped) overseas to play in the sand with al-Quiada (sic) for a little while,’ while a person identified as a Giles County elementary school teacher sent a message to the Freedom From Religion Foundation reading ‘you folks are allowing Satin (sic) to rule you.’”

What an odd mediation proposal. Does the judge really think people who believe the Ten Commandments should be posted in public schools would be amenable to editing them? And does he think that advocates of the Establishment Clause would find posting an edited version acceptable? Look for this one to be back in court soon.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email