Outrage ensues after a plaque containing the Ten Commandments was removed from Murphy Park in Steubenville, Ohio following complaints by Church-State separation groups. A Christian persecution support group has been vocal about their wish for the decision to be overturned and the plaque returned to the park.
The Freedom From Religious Foundation (FFRF) complained that the display “violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment” and shouldn’t be permitted in the public park. A letter from the group stated that “[t]he government has no business telling citizens which God they must have, or that they have any God at all.”
The plaque with the Ten Commandments was placed there by the local Baptist Church after the church adopted a section of Murphy Park.
Hendrik Storm, CEO of the Barnabas Fund, which works with persecuted Christians, said that the Ten Commandments are merely a “basis of morality” and urged the city to “reconsider its decision.”
According to Mr. Storm, the Barnabas Fund was deeply saddened by the removal of the plaque from the Steubenville, Ohio park following complaints from the pressure group, FFRF. He says, “The United States of America was founded upon and guided by Judeo-Christian principles and these form the moral basis of the American Constitution. Furthermore, the Ten Commandments were well-known by all the founding fathers, and were assumed to be the basis of morality, and not an endorsement of religion by the State. Consequently, it was etched in many places in the building that houses the US Supreme Court. Laws cannot be passed requiring particular religious beliefs as per the Constitution, but this does not negate having a basis of morality anchored in the Ten Commandments.”
As a representative of the Barnabas Fund, Mr. Storm urged the city to reconsider its decision and return the plaque to its former location within the park.
On August 14, 2018, following complaint from atheist-led FFRF, Jim Mavramatis, the City Manager, removed the plaque from Murphy Park in Steubenville, Ohio. FFRF claimed that the plaque as unconstitutional and demanded its removal.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Co-President, was happy about the banishment of the Ten Commandments display. “We comment the city for taking swift action to correct this violation,” she says. “Removing the bible plaque ensures that Murphy Park can be a welcoming space to all citizens.”
The same organization caused the removal of another biblical plaque at a Minnesota courthouse earlier this year.
The Ten Commandments play an important role in both Judaism and Christianity as a set of biblical principles and moral truths that are the basis of any ethical foundation for all humankind.
By: Laurie Esposito Harley