An Ohio student declared a strike after a Ten Commandments plaque was removed from the wall of his high school. Freshman Anthony Miller said he will continue attending classes at Harding High School. However, he has refused to do homework or participate in school sponsored activities. Miller said the strike will continue until the plaque is returned to the wall.
Marion City School officials said the Ten Commandments plaque was removed to avoid legal issues experienced in other districts. In recent years, numerous legal and civil rights organizations have argued that religious displays do not belong in public schools.
The Anti-Defamation League contends that public schools are prohibited from displaying the Ten Commandments per the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“The Supreme Court has long held that the government may not take any action that endorses a specific religious belief. All of the Court’s decisions banning government support for religious activity have rested on the First Amendment’s requirement of separation of church and state.”
In addition to violating the First Amendment, The Anti-Defamation League argues that religious displays in schools “can lead to the kind of religious divisions within otherwise harmonious communities that our founding fathers sought to avoid.”
Harding High School’s Ten Commandments plaque was gifted to the school by the class of 1953. The plaque remained on the wall, next to the preamble of the Constitution, for more than 60 years. Although school administrators removed the plaque to avoid controversy, the student’s strike has gained national attention.
As Miller has refused to complete his schoolwork, he is in danger of failing. However, the teen said he does not “care about [his] grades right now.” Until his demands are met, the student has refused to participate in “Harding-related activities, any Marion City Schools-related activities. Sports, choir, classes, whatever.” He further stated that he will no longer “wear [his] Harding Marching Band shirt.”
As reported by Marion Star, Superintendent Gary Barber is working toward a solution that will end the student’s strike. Although the Ten Commandments plaque will not be returned to Harding High School, Barber said he is working with “faith-based ministers and others in the community to discuss an appropriate home for the plaque.”
Despite Barber’s commitment to find a reasonable solution, the student plans to continue his strike. In addition to his personal protest, Miller is circulating a petition to have the plaque returned to the wall.
The student said the strike is not meant to force his beliefs on others. In fact, he hopes other organizations will be free to display their plaques as well.
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