O’Donnell Students Protest Taking Down Ten Commandments Painting

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Tuesday night the O’Donnell Independent School District held an open forum for the public to discuss recent controversy surrounding a painting of the Ten Commandments on a wall at the high school. 

The forum was held after the school district covered up the painting when they were threatened by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an advocacy group based in Wisconsin. School officials said the foundation received an anonymous letter from someone complaining about the painting. The F.F.R.F. threatened the school district with a lawsuit if action was not taken. 

Hundreds of students, parents and community members attended the meeting, with most people speaking in favor of keeping the painting. 

“I know they can’t take away our faith technically,” 16-year-old Abby Franklin said. “But it is still hard for us to see them take down our faith. Sometimes you just need a reminder and having them on the walls of your school where you go every single day makes a big difference it changes lives.”
 
Students said the district first put up black paper over the painting, but it was torn down by the students. The school then covered the painting with an American flag. This time, students wallpapered the school with sticky notes and posters with statements of support and bible verses. 
 
Two radio DJs in Lubbock also attended the meeting. Pastor Scott Bailey and Javier Castaneda host a morning show on 87.7 The Fountain. They said they were impressed with how the students were handling the dispute. 
 
“But they didn’t wait for an adult to get involved,” Pastor Bailey said. “They stepped up and they said this is a battle we want to fight and the kids are taking it to it man.”
 
The DJs spent their own money making t-shirts to pass out to the students. On the front, they read ‘You can have the wall, he is in our hearts.’ On the back, the Ten Commandments as well as a bible verse.
 
Castaneda spoke at length to students before the meeting and then once again during the meeting. Each time he expressed the same thought.
 
“Take it off of all those places then you force me to live it,” Castaneda said. “And I wanted these kids to understand no one can take your faith, no one gave it to you it is in you. It is already there.”
 
Everyone who spoke at the meeting spoke in favor of keeping the painting, although one woman warned with the recent renovations done to the high school, the district is not in a financial situation to start a legal battle.
 
The person that wrote the letter to the F.F.R.F. was not in attendance, or at least did not speak. 
 
“As Christians we are here because we are not afraid to tell you that we love the Lord and we are proud to say that we love the Lord,” Franklin said. “And if you are not the big enough man to come and tell us that you don’t want it then why would you even send the email? Why would you even ask someone to help you, if you can’t come to our school and tell us why you don’t want it up here. I am sorry but I can not take someone seriously who can’t do it in person and who can’t come out and say ‘oh yeah, it was me’  I can’t respect you.”
 
Someone who is not staying quiet on the issue is Senator Charles Perry who spoke about the painting at a meeting last week.
 
“This separation of church and state has really been abused in an extended way beyond what it’s original intent,” Perry said. “I can no longer be silent when it comes to Christian faith and the assault there of. To deny the fact that it is happening is to be ignorant. We are to have no federal or state created sponsored original, at the same time we also are a country founded on religious freedoms and our ability to share our faith and have our first amendments and it is part of our culture as a country.” 
 
Perry did not attend the meeting because he was in Austin.
 
The school district would not comment on the issue and did not make any decisions Tuesday night. They said they were still consulting with legal counsel. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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