The Ten Commandments Controversy - - ABC13

The Ten Commandments Controversy


Photojournalist: David Tate

Pearisburg, VA - A Constitutional showdown is brewing in Giles County.

Thursday, the school board voted to reverse a month-old decision to remove the Ten Commandments from five schools.

The controversy started after the Wisconsin-based "Freedom from Religion Foundation" complained, citing the separation of church and state.

Less than a month ago, after consulting the district attorney, the Ten Commandments were covered up at Giles County Schools.

"He provided us information and based on his advice the decision was to remove those at the time," said Dr. Terry Arbogast, the Superintendent of Giles County Schools.

Now they're being put back.

It was mostly due to a grass roots student movement at Giles High, which culminated in more than 200 people coming out to denounce the decision Monday night.

That decision was unanimously reversed by the five-member school board.

Pastor Shahn Wilburn led the charge to originally have the Ten Commandments posted.

Now he's at the front of the effort to save them.

Reporter - "Are you guys drawing a line in the sand?" "I don't know if we're drawing a line in the sand, but we would stand on what we believe," said Pastor Wilburn.

Wilburn says the commandments are legal, based on the school's right to post historic documents; next to it is the Constitution.

"The legal foundation for our laws is the Ten Commandments," Wilburn said. "I mean it was a legal voice that our forefathers used."

Both documents, he says, create the foundation, the history of the country and therefore are constitutional to hang.

A principle that Wilburn believes would be defended in court.

And judging from the community outpouring, it's a battle he says the people of the county are ready to wage.

"If it comes to that than the price of defense is worth paying," Wilburn said. "There's been a lot of sacrifice for what we have and there's going to be more sacrifices."

The school district originally put the documents up after the Columbine massacre.

Soon, community leaders will propose the school board post a total of five important, historic documents in the schools, including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

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