Texas high schoolers come together for Ten Commandments painting

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O’DONNELL, TX (KCBD/WCMH) — A group of Texas high school students are rallying around their display of the Ten Commandments.

O’Donnell High School had a painting of the Ten Commandments and a Bible verse in the recently built common area of the school, but when students came to school Thursday morning, both paintings were covered up.

O’Donnell ISD Superintendent Dr. Cathy Amonett says she received a letter from a group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation on Wednesday night.

The letter said they had received an anonymous complaint about the Ten Commandments and the scripture painted on the school wall.

Dr. Amonett says she covered up the paintings to avoid a lawsuit, until a better solution can be found.

The mural was initially covered with black paper, but some students tore that down.

Now, the Ten Commandments painting is covered with an American Flag.

“I made the decision to cover it up until I made a more informed decision about what I should do, because I don’t want to harm the district or cause any controversy or anything,” Dr. Amonett said.

However, covering the painting created a movement in the school. The Ten Commandments were originally covered with black paper, but some of the students tore the paper off.

“Be on your guard, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong – 1 Corinthians 16-3 – meaning we all just need to stand firm; the whole school came together today,” junior Katye Gruben posted on Facebook.

Junior Abby Franklin said she appreciates that Dr. Amonett  has been transparent about the controversy.

“She’s been very calm and very loving towards all of us,” Franklin said. “The first thing she said is, I know you’re all frustrated. I’m just as frustrated as you are.”

Dr. Amonett said she is proud of the way the students have taken their frustration and turned it into a movement.

“I think that they have shown the kind of people that they are. They believe in the Ten Commandments and they want to stand up for it, and I’m proud of them for that,” Dr. Amonett said.

When asked for a comment, Sam Grover from the Freedom From Religion Foundation said:

FFRF takes in thousands of complaints each year from people reporting religious promotion by the government in their local communities. That’s how we learned of the Ten Commandments and bible verse display in this case. We sent a letter to educate the school district on why this display violates the law and to invite them to voluntarily correct the problem. At this point, we hope that the superintendent will do the right thing and remove the religious display, which violates the separation of church and state and also the right of conscience of each student at the school. If the school district chooses to keep the display, it is exposing itself to a potential lawsuit that could cost the school district and taxpayers dearly.”

Texas Sen. Charles Perry issed a statement on Friday, supporting the students.

For years the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” has fought to intimidate Christians into eliminating all public displays of faith from our society.

Last year they unsuccessfully targeted the Kountze Cheerleaders and the Childress Police Department. Today, they are threatening O’Donnell High School with a lawsuit over their display of the Ten Commandments.

I am proud of the hundreds of students at O’Donnell that are standing up for their faith and starting a movement to save the Ten Commandments at their school. Our office is working to ensure the school is in touch with the necessary experts to explain their rights and determine a plan of action.”

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