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Atheists win Ten Commandments battle

A Kentucky school district is yanking down multiple displays of the Ten Commandments after an atheist organization sent the county a letter warning the plaques were unconstitutional.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, or FFRF, a Wisconsin-based organization of “freethinkers” – explained on the group’s website as atheists, agnostics and skeptics devoted to spreading nontheism – told Kentucky’s Breathitt County School District it had received complaints about the displays.

Earlier this week, the district agreed to take down the displays, which had reportedly hung on area high school, middle school and several elementary schools’ walls for years.

The school district’s decision to comply with the FFRF letter has upset some area residents.

“I am totally against it,” Mary Campbell told WYMT-TV of Hazard, Ky. “I think that we need the Ten Commandments in the schools. I think all kids should learn it. It is everybody’s choice what they believe.”

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“They shouldn’t have [taken] them down,” agreed Julia Watts. “I had them when I went to school at Breathitt High. I think they should stay up.”

The Kentucky Board of Education, however, released a statement affirming the district’s decision.

“The display of religious materials, such as a painting of a religious figure or a copy of the Ten Commandments, in a public school violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the establishment or endorsement of religion by a public agency,” the state asserted. “A school or district that displays copies of the Ten Commandments without the inclusion of other historical documents and not as part of a historical/comparative display is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”